No, I Am Number Four is not a sequel, nor is it the fourth film of a franchise. It’s a semi-children/adolescent sci-fi film based on the first (and currently only) book of the new hot novel series by Pittacus Lore (pen name of Jobie Hughes and James Frey — yes, that James Frey of A Million Little Pieces infamy) that attempts to cross-appeal to the general population (in the vein of Harry Potter, Twilight, etc).
I can’t speak for the book because I’ve only had a cursory glance of it in a bookstore, but if the movie is any reflection then it can’t possibly be very good. The story feels strangely familiar: aliens destroyed by other evil aliens send 9 gifted children to Earth; the evil aliens chase and start killing the kids off, one by one. Guess which one they are up to?
However, the premise is not the issue here, because any premise has potential — it’s the characters and the development of the story that lacked punch. Alex Pettyfer, who plays Number Four, is not a bad actor, but his character is not particularly likable or sympathetic. As of now, the character is just not very interesting. He needs more charisma, more heart — he needs to be more than just your typical angst-driven teenager. Maybe we’ll get to see more of that if this film does well and they decide to continue the series.
The love interest, Sarah Hart, is cringeworthy not just because her character is a horrible cliche, but it’s also because the actress playing her, Dianna Agron, has little more in her repertoire other than a flirty smile. Aussie Teresa Palmer, who plays Number Six, put on the absolute worst American accent I’ve ever heard for a mainstream movie. Why can’t she just be Australian? As for Timothy Olyphant — he’s still rather serviceable, but is it just me or was he Hitman not that long ago? And now he’s already the greying, ageing babysitter for the protagonist?
Anyway, I Am Number Four is adequate in some respects — the action sequences and the special effects are fairly good — but it’s still a somewhat uninspiring film that is more Percy Jackson than Harry Potter (and at least Percy Jackson had that whole Greek mythology thing going for it). The characters and the way the story unfolds is all very ‘cookie-cutter’, and I longed to see something I didn’t expect. It didn’t happen.
I could be wrong, but right now I just can’t see this film franchise coming close to replicating the success of Harry Potter or Twilight, or even Narnia. The second book (and potentially second film) would have to take it to a whole new level for that to be remotely possible.
2 stars out of 5