I Am Number Four Reviewed

This month we check out the latest film franchise which combines love, superpowers and aliens. We review, I am Number Four!

The Plot

John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is an alien from planet Lorien who was sent to Earth as a child alongside eight other toddlers to escape an invading race, the Mogadorians, which destroyed their home planet. He is protected by a Guardian, Henri (Timothy Olyphant), and has developed superpowers due to his alien nature, such as enhanced strength, speed and agility, telekinesis, resistance to fire and heat and the power to generate light from his hands.

The Mogadorians, led by the Commander (Kevin Durand) eventually find out about the nine toddlers and come to Earth in search of them. They can be only killed in sequence, with three of them having already been slain. John is Number Four. Knowing this, he and Henri move from Florida to Paradise, Ohio, where John befriends Sam Goode (Callan McAuliffe), who is devoted to conspiracy theories and believes in aliens; and falls in love with amateur photographer Sara Hart (Dianna Agron), whose ex-boyfriend, Mark James (Jake Abel) is a bully who often torments both John and Sam.


Film producer and director Michael Bay brought the manuscript of the teen book, I Am Number Four, to Stacey Snider and Steven Spielberg at DreamWorks. A bidding war developed for the film rights between DreamWorks and J.J. Abrams, with DreamWorks winning the rights in June 2009, with the intention of having Bay produce and possibly direct the project The rights were purchased with the hope of attracting teenage fans of the Twilight saga films, and the potential of establishing a film franchise, with at least six more installments planned by the book's publisher.

James Frey is the co-author of the book, along with Jobie Hughes, a graduate of Columbia University's creative writing program. Al Gough and Miles Millar, the creators of the television series Smallville, were hired to write the screenplay in August 2009. Marti Noxon, writer and producer for the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, also contributed to the screenplay. D. J. Caruso was brought on to direct in early 2010, after Bay opted to focus on directing the third film of the Transformers series. Caruso had been selected by Spielberg to direct Disturbia and Eagle Eye for DreamWorks, and had success with both films. Caruso had less than a year to prepare, shoot and edit the film

Steven Spielberg contributed to the film's characters, but is not expected to take a credit on the film. It was the first DreamWorks film to be released by Disney's Touchstone film label, as part of the new 30-picture distribution deal between DreamWorks and the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group. The film is also the first release for DreamWorks after the studio's financial restructuring in 2008.

The Verdict

It's a case of Roswell meets Smallville. Not so emo like Twilight but they do use the same romantic template to appeal to the female audience. Sarah and Number Six do more than enough to get the boys packing into the cinema and the Michael Bay brand of action sets the stage for a possible film franchise.

The young actors deliver fine performances and you can see that they are committed to their roles and are perhaps the only people involved in the production (other than director DJ Caruso) who are sincere about their investment in the project. The film is well-made just as much as it is being well shot, with well-done effects work and strong action sequences.

Screenplay writers Gough and Millar worked in concurrence with Hughes and Frey in order to construct a unified version of the book and the film, with each informing the other, rather than adapting the film from a book which was created organically, with story in mind first and foremost.


3.5 Stars out of 5

Although it might seem like a good mix of different franchises but it's got a good sense if originality in it. Definitely worth giving it a try.

I am Number Four opens in cinemas February 24

POPCulture Online March 2011 All Rights Reserved

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