Monday, 21 February 2011

Film Review: I Am Number Four

Starring:

Alex Pettyfer, Dianna Agron, Callam McAuliffe, Timothy Olyphant and  Teresa Palmer.

Directed by: D.J. Caruso

Synopsis:
Extraordinary teen John Smith (Pettyfer) is a fugitive on the run from ruthless enemies sent to destroy him. Changing his identity, moving from town to town with his guardian Henri (Olyphant), John is always the new kid with no ties to his past. In the small Ohio town he now calls home, John encounters unexpected, life-changing events-his first love (Agron), powerful new abilities and a connection to the others who share his incredible destiny. Walt Disney Pictures
Review:
Stepping inside the cinema I knew nothing about the premise on which this movie is based upon.  My knowledge could be encapsulated into four throwaway facts: 1) Alex Pettyfer is pretty, 2) Dianna Agron is the least talented singer on Glee (but probably the most act-capable), 3) DJ Caruso directed Suburbia, which I quite liked and 4) the book in which this film is based was written via James Frey's writing sweat shop.

My expectations were low.  Not just low, Twilight and Sex and the City 2 low.  I left the theatre surprised.  Not JJ Abrams' Star Trek surprised but pleasantly surprised.  The story isn't anything new - outsider falls in love with a girl who is anything but the ordinary she pretends to be.  Outsider has an epic responsibility and finds that anything is possible with the support of friends.  End scene.  I Am Number Four is in a nutshell a terribly bland premise with blue hand lights.

And yet, unlike many other paranormal bent teen movies/books this cast can act.  Pettyfer wrings all the emotional beats out of a pretty ordinary screenplay but can't ever lift it out of mediocrity.  Agron is rowing hard in the same boat and also has to struggle with her arty girl character's propensity for hats.  The chemistry only ever truly sparks when there is snoggage - otherwise it doesn't necessarily ring true.  Callan McAuliffe does a credible job at both the American accent and finding some nuance in the sidekick role.  Teresa Palmer brandishes her Australian accent and ass-kickery to fulfill the role of unexpected hot blond girl.  Timothy Olyphant phones in the role with his grimaces and quirky eyebrows but still eats his co-stars up with room to spare.

The effects are passable.  The stunts are impressive.  Nothing can really be said other than the evil jock could not have been more cliched if they had tried.  It does its job well.  It crafts a tolerable story with a likeable cast and a certain visual panache.

Buy / Rent / Ignore

**If you like the idea of PSnark being a place to view YA film reviews tell me.  I've been flirting with the idea as I will no longer be posting book reviews.

20 comments:

Braiden said...

I also am tempted to review YA films.

I actually enjoyed I Am Number Four. It wasn't great but it was average. The cliché cast of characters still hurts me. I think if you have read the book you would enjoy the film a bit more. But otherwise those who love it only love it because of Mr. Alex.

I found Teresa Palmer couldn't control keeping her natural Aussie accent. It seemed to go Texan at times which was annoying. What I didn't like was that there were random scenes woven through showing her path of freedom and the life. In the book you don't get much until when she actually meets John (as the book is from his POV).

I liked the action sequences...better than more mature action films these days. CGI were great too. But I was trying to follow the book's plot which the film didn't do at times.

Aaron Vincent said...

Yes to YA film reviews! That's really a good idea! I'd recommend Tomorrow, When The War Began. I read the book and watched the movie. I wasn't disappointed with either of those. What with all the film adaptations being planned/produced, you can have plenty of films to review! I really love the idea.

The Crooked Bookshelf said...

Yes to YA film reviews!

Audrey (holes In My brain) said...

Yes, review more YA films! :)
The thing that makes me have terribly low expectations is that YA movies usually have less-than-stellar (see: cringe-worthy) acting but it's nice to know this one doesn't :) thanks for the review! and I agree, Alex Pettyfer is *pretty* xD

Sassy CC said...

Yes review YA films or films in general. I think I just like reading your ideas on something and if it can't be books than movies shall do.
I really want to watch this and though your review wouldn't change that, I am pleased that you were surprised in a good way.

Alex Bennett (Electrifying Reviews) said...

I thought the book was decent. I'm going to check out the film just because I like to see YA books on the big screen.

Harry said...

Great Film review !

Ronnica said...

I've seen several reviews, and you all have convinced me that I do want to rent it when it comes out. I liked the book (I listened to the audio).

Allison said...

Glad I wasn't the only one who thought it was an okay movie! If you can deal with the fact that it's a mashup of a bunch of YA tropes, then it can be a perfectly decent viewing experience. :D

LinWash said...

Yes to YA films. But I'm sad that you are no longer reviewing books.

Anna said...

Awww, I was looking forward to going to see this movie soon for the Alex Pettyfer goodness, but maybe now I'll just rent it instead. It sounds like a good movie to pass the time though but yeah, not something I have to see right now. Reviewing YA films sounds like a great idea!

Megan Swicegood said...

This is kind of how I felt about it. I had read the book (with mixed feelings) but I didn't have any expectations of it. I was surprised by Alex Pettyfer's chops - I knew he was pretty (and man is he pretty) but that was it, I was pleasantly surprised at how talented he is. Funny too, good comedic timing. I thought Sam stole the show though - he was great.

thatcovergirl said...

Pretty Boy went and saw this on his day off today. He said he enjoyed it and that it was very entertaining. We went to go see a screener for Disturbia years ago and really liked DJ Caruso's work. I of course didn't have high hopes for I Am Number Four and sort of laughed through the entire trailer. But with you and Hubs both giving it a nice little nod, I may just have to change my mind. ;)

Maree Kimberley said...

Yes to YA film reviews from me, too. Look forward to reading some more.

Danie47 said...

Great review. Guess I'll have to Netflix it. Yes to the YA film reviews too.

Lana said...

Definite yes to the YA film reviews! I'm a big fan of the movies (almost as much as I love books), and am always glad to hear what gems others find :)

Okie said...

Thanks for the review.

I'm intrigued by the concept of the book/movie but haven't been driven enough yet to get the book or see the movie.

Still, I'm glad to hear that it was better than expected. That tips it a little farther forward on my "to read/see" list. :)

Thanks again.

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

Haha! I love your comparisons. Twilight and Sex and the City 2 low-that's pretty low so I'm glad the movie at least was better than that. (And Star Trek is a good high surprise bar-I really loved that movie and was very surprised).

I wasn't a huge fan of the book, but it was OK-I thought it mostly read like a movie novelization, cause you know, it kind of was. It's one I'll most likely rent but not watch in theaters.

And yes, do movie reviews-LOVE the idea!!

john said...

Reviews are a lot more entertaining to read when they are scathing or applauding. Not the reviewer's fault that the film is banal, though.
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Jess the Reader said...

Love to see more YA film reviews, please!