So apparently this is based on a book or something? I had no idea and had never heard of it before it existed in movie form, but I did become suspicious when they ending was left so wide open you could drive a fleet of sequel trucks through it. I’m somewhat curious about the book now, if only to discover if it’s as badly written as the movie. I need to know which writers to throw constructively critical bricks at.*
Anyhoo, I Am Number Four is a sci-fi alien movie that has a mini-crush on Twilight. There are nine refugee alien children on our planet, you see, on the run from the other aliens who exterminated their species. You can tell the refugee aliens are “good” because they look exactly like humans (except, you know, impossibly good looking) and that the other aliens are “evil” because they look like giant tiger shark-people in black overcoats. The nine kids, now teenagers, each have their own protector to keep them safe until they reach adulthood, at which point the children will gain awesome super-powers.
This is handy, because the protectors don’t seem to have any powers whatsoever, unless you count getting the crap beat out of them whilst holding blue-glowing mini-scimitars. One of them even gets beaten up by a couple of fat computer nerds, for God’s sake. Anyway, for reasons that are never explained, the nine are being killed in a specific order. So when Number Four (Alex Pettyfer) has a vision confirming that Number Three is dead, he knows he is next on the Big Mean Alien Hit List. Immediately he and his protector (Timothy Olyphant) flee, with their hunters in pursuit.
How the evil aliens find their quarry is never explained, presumably because writing is hard. This became more and more evident as the movie progressed. Most characters spoke and acted in that peculiar and specific manner that movie characters sometimes have. You know what I mean — an important question is asked and instead of answering it with words, like a normal and considerate person, the character will remain silent, staring meaningfully at the asker before heavily breaking eye contact to gaze soulfully out the window even if they don’t know the answer to the question one way or the other. It sounds like a nit-picking complaint, but it’s annoying because nobody really has a conversation like that. And if they do, it’s usually followed with, “Hey asshole, I asked you a question” or something equivalent.
And it’s not just the dialogue. The whole movie seems to service the plot, which would be good if the plot bothered with things like logic and realism. For example, at one point Number Four is fighting a big scary creature, when another creature shows up to help him out. Instead of tag-teaming the monster, which would probably take less than a minute and end up in guaranteed victory, he runs off to help someone else who’s doing just fine on their own. Why? Because it would be really cool for the audience to see a big monster-on-monster fight right now, that’s why.
That being said, the fights in the movie actually were pretty cool. The last 20 minutes of the movie had an awesome action scene that I enjoyed. But as Mister Number Four struggles to fit into his new school while keeping a low profile and controlling his strange new powers I was only mildly interested; and when they got into the prerequisite love story aspect of the plot I felt only a mixture of painful boredom at the material and wry amusement that the movie seemed to expect it to be romantic. But it’s not romantic and it’s not relatable, because the actors talk like they’re reading lines out of Movie Romance Dialogue 101: The Teen Angst Edition.
I Am Number Four is not completely without merit, but not really worth spending money to see either. It’s hard to tell if the lack of explanation in the story is due to sloppy writing or if the many unanswered questions are designed to be answered later in the series, but it’s disorienting regardless. And when the only character that has any personality or entertainment value in your movie is the main villain and he’s only onscreen for about six minutes, you need to reconsider a great many of your choices.
*Not a metaphor. Actual bricks with things like “Better dialogue next time” and “Explain things better” on them.