Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I am Number Four

Waited a long time for this after reading the book and yup i finally get to see it not in theater but on the internet and it definitely proved to be a good entertainment under the young adult category where i fall in. 

Anyways whats done is done lets get on with the plot now shall we,

The movie springs up from the book by the same name by the duo James Frey & Jobie Hughes written under the pseudonym of Pittacus Lore who coincidently happens to be a character in the novel but we don't see him on the film. Directed by D.J. Caruso, got to givee it to him, he sure knows a thing or two about finding and cultivating young talent. In 2007, he picked a fresh from Disney Shia Labeouf to headline his Rear Window homage Disturbia, which sent him on a path to super stardom. Now four years later he’s doing the same with British actor Alex Pettyfer who stars as the title character in his sci-fi action flick I Am Number Four.

What’s interesting with this bit of backstory is that Dreamworks bought the film rights to ‘I Am Number Four’ before a final draft was completed of the actual book. They wrote various versions of the script which they shared with Frey who wound up using many of their ‘suggestions’ to put into the final version of the book, so for those who think the film followed the book faithfully, it’s more that the book followed the movie version more faithfully. Interestingly enough, even the ending was Dreamworks idea which wound up becoming incorporated into the final book so having a pseudonym for this book series is smart since it sounds like many hands are in the pot creatively saving Frey more embarrassment of not having written them all himself. 

Let's break it down now shall we,

John/Daniel/Number 4(Alex Pettyfer), a mysterious teenager who is smart, brooding, handsome and athletic but doesn’t fit in at his new school. He and Henri (Timothy Olyphant), who poses as his father but is in reality his alien warrior/ protector, have just landed in Paradise, Ohio. It is a small town where they hope to exist under the radar and evade their enemies, Mogadorians, a group of space assassins in long black coats and deeply scarred and tattooed heads. 

John and Henri constantly change their identities; that’s life on the run. They do their best to appear normal, a tough gig considering that they look perpetually freaked out and behave in a hyper vigilant manner. 

Three other beings like John have been killed and John is Number Four, and will be the next to go in the mythic order of things.  Pettyfer and Olyphant carry it off well.

Back at school, John is bullied, and despite his spectacular physique and mad fighting skills, allows it.  I don’t know I’m buying what they’re selling, but nonetheless this is the position in which he finds himself.  John befriends the perpetual bullying victim Sam (Callan McAuliffe, an Australian who also scores with a Yankee accent) who becomes his warrior in the soon-to come epic battle against the Mogadorians.
John meets and falls for Sarah, played by Glee’s Dianna Agron who also doubles as Pettyfer’s real life girlfriend(although there have been recent news that they broke up). Sarah is a loner who obsessively photographs her environment and the people in it. But his opening up to her seems to give him special powers. He can manipulate matter with his powerful, glowing hands.

Sarah puts John in a difficult spot by taking his picture and posting it online.  The Mogadorians are tech savvy (who would have thought) and John knows that if they find his pic online, they’ll be able to locate and kill him.  BTW there is enough texting and internet surfing here to satisfy the most hardened screenager.

Australian actor Theresa Palmer (an Australian who lets her accent fly) arrives on the scene, a sexy super-powered motorcycle mama who reveals herself as Number 6 and a capable fighter.  The battle with the Mogadorians is on.

Alright lets look over some Good & Bad points of the flick:

So Pettyfer and Agron hardly turn in Oscar-worthy performances. They are sufficiently moody, rebellious and moony-eyed to get the point across. Certainly, they’re more believable than Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson were in the Twilight installments. Sorry to all those Hardcore fans out there but its true (yes i also like the twilight novels but their chemistry doesn't really appeal to me very much).

Next up on the good point is Olyphant, now none of the characters in this film have any real substance and Olyphant’s Henri is the closest we get to someone likable. The role was previously supposed to go to Sharlto Copley,but Olyphant was definitely the better choice. Not every actor can take cheesy dialogue (more on that below) and make it somewhat tolerable. Then comes the action sequence (that definitely was the best part) Caruso did a great job of directing those scenes because there’s a lot going on but you can actually see what each person is doing. The fights are actually comprehensible. The CGI looks pretty good and the fight choreography is great.

Lets highlight some bad points; first up in line are the few gaping plot holes that have obviously been left open in the hopes of a sequel. Millar and Gough never explain, for example, why the Mogs hunt the kids in order. This one point is such a pivotal storytelling device that it is unforgivable to not explain it. While we’re asking questions, how did the Loriens come to choose Earth as their new home? Why do they look so much like humans, albeit preternaturally attractive ones? Other than surviving, did the nine have a mission?(although yes a lot of these points have also not been addressed in the book, clearly left the more novels to come in the future). Then comes the editing, there are a lot of continuity issues in this film. There are several sequences where people go from point A to C, and they never explain what happened to B. Sometimes that can work and as a viewer you can piece together how someone got to where they were, but that isn’t the case here. It looks like the editor took out chunks of shots to save time and it’s extremely obvious.

So on the whole only Alex Pettyfer and Timothy Olyphant are able to present believable characters  and they should being the ones on whose shoulders the plot rest. A likable teen oriented film that’s contemporary enough to be interesting to the kids, whether they’ve read the book or not. It’s no classic, but it’s fun and an eyeful.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...