Feb 26, 2011

Movies: I Am Number Four

So here is why this is complicated. First, there was the trailer, and it looked cool. But then there was the other information - the cast, the story, the actual target of the movie - and there was no way in hell I Am Number Four wouldn't suck. But then there was my gut feeling. I have those, occasionally, and they are hardly ever wrong. So my gut feeling told me that the movie would be bad, but still a lot better than people with actual decent tastes and some semblance of critical thinking would expect. It also told me I would enjoy it. And as is usually the case I was right.

The story is basically Twilight with aliens. John (Alex Pettyfer) is a hot young alien who - in the best Superman traditions - is completely indistinguishable from humans, except for his awesome powers. He is among the last survivors of his homeworld which was invaded by the evil Mogadorians (and trust me - they are very evil. I mean, they kill people for fun!!!). However, even among his kind, John is special. He is one of the Nine - children with amazing abilities, destined to be protectors of their race (and by extension - of goodness, rainbows and unicorns). The Mogadorians are hunting down the Numbers which - for reasons that remain completely unexplained in the movie - can only be killed in a particular order. I Am Number Four begins with the murder of Three. Our boy John is next, so his protector Henri (Timothy Olyphant) moves them from Florida to Paradise, Ohio (which is in no way to be mistaken for Bella's move from Phoenix, Arizona to Forks, even though yes - John does have an internal monologue during the move...) where our boy goes to a new school only to meet the beautiful yet quirky outcast Sarah (Dianna Agron). But of course, the Mogadorians are on to him now, and there is also a deadly hot chick in black leather (Teresa Palmer) on his trail.

You see how easy it is for this movie to suck. And suck it surely does, only - not enough to prevent you from enjoying it. First of all, Dianna Agron is gorgeous (as anyone watching Glee would already know). Talented, beautiful and charming, she gives Sarah way more life than the flat character actually deserves. Alex Pettyfer's performance, although hampered by clunky writing, is actually rather decent too, so the two leads are already head and shoulders above poor Bella and Edward.

The love story is severely less prominent than the action is, which is also rather awesome, and the action itself is really spectacular. Soon after he arrives in Paradise, John realizes that he has become stronger and faster, and that strange stuff is coming out of his body (I know, I know, every puberty joke ever...). At first it is just weird light (that he hilariously uses mostly to illuminate dark places), but then telekinesis kicks in, followed by forcefields, energy beams - the full X-men package. He doesn't get Edward-fast though, for which I feel weird gratitude. Also, the Numbers' "legacies" are different, so when we get to see another one of them (oops! Spoiler alert!), their abilities are refreshingly new.

Now for the bad stuff. First of all, the story is all over the place. The bad guys are bad because they kill kittens, and their agenda is never explained. Why did they invade John's planet in the first place? Why are they after Earth now? Why can't they kill the Numbers in any order? WHAT'S WITH THE RETARDED TRENCH COATS?! Whole lot of questions, no answer whatsoever. Even the leader of the group hunting John - who even speaks English if you can imagine - never even gets a name of his own, the poor dear.

Then there is Tymothy Olyphant. The fact that the guy can't act to save his life is not really the issue here. The problem comes from the complete inadequacy of his Henri, who is supposed to be John's protector, but ends up being completely overpowered by two random hicks off-screen. Also, what's with the flashlight dagger, dude? The Mogadorians come at you with microwave-sized blasters and you're fighting them with a dagger?! Seriously? And it's not like the good guys don't have blasters (as seen towards the end - and they shoot Goodly Blue rays, as opposed to the evil guys' Wicked Red rays!!!), so if that rebellious teenager is that important to you, maybe up your game a little bit, play with the big toys maybe? Sheesh...

But in the end, I Am Number Four is good entertainment. It sure beats the crap out of the Twilight movies, opting for fast pace (except for the middle which drags a little) and cool superpowers shown in well executed and unchaotic action scenes. Which is, of course, why it will fail miserably and never get even remotely close to the sparkly vampires in terms of popularity. Still, I hope it does well enough in the box office, because as shallow and whatevery as it is, I would love to see the sequel.


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