Movie Review: I Am Number Four (2011)

Synopsis: John Smith is one of nine aliens who, along with their guardians, are hiding on Earth from a hostile alien race that destroyed their planet. Despite his guardian's objections, John chooses to pose as a high school student, a task that grows increasingly more difficult as his alien powers start to emerge. Things become more complicated when he begins seeing a fellow student, Sarah, drawing the wrath of her ex-boyfriend.

Who's in it? The movie stars Alex Pettyfer, Dianna Agron, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer and Kevin Durand.

Review: I added this movie to my library several weeks ago but held off watching it because I wasn't completely convinced it would be a film I would enjoy. I finally decided to watch it last night and this morning and, after seeing it, I ended up liking it a lot more than I was expecting.

When I first started watching the movie, I was a bit concerned it would end up being a little too similar to the film Twilight, with an alien instead of a vampire. The movie even had some similar themes, including John (Pettyfer) trying to hide his superpowers while his classmates did their best not to notice when he pretty much failed (I mean, seriously, did nobody in the classroom notice his glowing hands?). As the film progressed, however, I did think there were enough differences to make it much more unique.

I thought the relationship between John and Sarah (Agron) was intriguing. This wasn't just because of who he was and the difficulty of keeping his secret from her, it was also because he was on the run and would either eventually need to leave again or would put her life in danger. It was unclear which he would choose to do and how it would affect their relationship, especially once she figured out the truth. And, I have to admit, her reaction to learning he was an alien was pretty much the opposite of what I was expecting.

I also liked how the movie had a couple wildcards with his friend/conspiracy theorist, Sam (Callan McAuliffe) and Sarah's bully ex-boyfriend, Mark (Jake Abel). Mark was an obvious potential threat, both because he likely suspected something wasn't quite right with the new kid and because of Sarah. Sam, however, was a fairly meek character and someone that seemed like he would turn on his friend if he was threatened even a little bit or if someone offered to help him find his father (who he believed was abducted by aliens). In fact, I fully expected Sam to be the one to betray John, whether it was intentional or not.

I didn't care for John's guardian, Henri (Olyphant) at first but he was a character who grew on me because it was easy to tell he cared for John like a son, and, as the movie progressed, it became easier to understand just how difficult his job was. The character that really impressed me though was No. 6 (Palmer), who was just a bad ass. That scene with her walking away from an exploding building toward the beginning was a bit cliche but she made it work. I do, however, kind of wish the movie would have given her more screen time.

I even found I enjoyed the movie's ending. The climax had quite a bit of action and the film does a good job setting up a potential sequel while still providing enough closure to make the movie feel complete on its own. I wish more movies would do that.

My only real complaint about the movie, other than No. 6 not being a bigger part of the movie, is I thought the main bad guy (Durand) and his henchmen were kind of wimpy. I feel like the movie might have given John a few too many powers because, even when he was outnumbered, I never felt like he faced any sort of disadvantage. If anything, I feel like the movie went to great lengths to stretch out a fight he should have won in a few seconds, especially since he had help.

Final Opinion: I don't know if there is anything about this movie I would describe as particularly memorable and there are parts, especially in the beginning, that remind me of other films. However, I did enjoy watching this film and would recommend it as a result of that.

My Grade: A


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