At first glance, I AM NUMBER FOUR looked like a sure fire hit. Director D.J. Caruso helmed the Shia LaBeouf star-maker, DISTURBIA, and demonstrated that both he and LaBeouf had action chops in the action/sci-fi EAGLE EYE. Screenwriters Alfred Gough and Miles Millar are veterans of SMALLVILLE – the ultimate sci-fi ode to teen alienation. And producer Michael Bay is, of course, the TRANSFORMERS director. There’s obviously a lot of Hollywood starmaking power behind this movie.
But I AM NUMBER FOUR is a disappointing plodding movie that wallows in teen angst for over two thirds the way before the action gets good. British newcomer Alex Pettyfer stars as “John” aka Number Four – the fourth alien on Earth being hunted down by some mysterious alien army called the Mogadorians. Timothy Olyphant co-stars as John’s protector. Dianna Agron is the local high school girl, Sarah, who falls for the mysterious new student, John.
Faster than you can say URBAN LEGEND/FRIGHT NIGHT or any episode of SMALLVILLE, I AM NUMBER FOUR becomes a music video with fast cut scenes of John’s pained face as he looks around the latest small town he’s escaped to. All he wants to do is belong. All he wants to do is to share his secret with the girl he loves.
If Caruso and Bay wanted to launch the next Shia LaBeouf, they misfired with the stiff and charmless Pettyfer who resembles a young Jude Law, but looks way too old and worldly to be playing an American high schooler. Agron gets the “Chloe” role from SMALLVILLE – the outcast girl too smart for the cliques. And one bright light in the cast is Aussie Callan McAuliffe, who plays John’s friend and confidante – he’s good sidekick material.
Poorly paced, I AM NUMBER FOUR is also pretty blatant setting up a sequel. There’s a mysterious box from John’s real father, and the Clark Kent moment when John discovers his real destiny on our tiny blue planet. Let the box office do the talking – no one should be clamoring for I AM NUMBER FIVE.
MORE of Alex Pettyfer on Brave New Hollywood, CLICK HERE