In I Am Number Four Alex Pettyfer is an alien living in America. No, not an illegal alien from south of the boarder, but one from a distant planet. He’s one of nine special beings with unique powers living on Earth. The race that destroyed his planet is actively hunting the nine teenagers, and John (as he is going by in Ohio) is next in line.
John is being protected by a warrior guardian from this planet named Henri (Timothy Olyphant). He goes on to prove himself as being typically overprotective and even had a way of erasing John’s image form the Internet. Playing the role of the new kid in town, John attends school and falls hard for Sarah (Dianna Agron). Unfortunate for John he’s going to have to juggle fighting her ex-boyfriend along with the intergalactic evildoers.
Director D.J. Caruso puts together and attractive film. The effects are mostly believable and meet industry standards. There might have been a few acrobatic moments that I could have done without. I Am Number Four appears more attractive than its plot and screenplay deserve. There are numerous movies and TV series being served up for a total ripping off. There are clear cases to be made for Star Wars, Critters, Terminator 2, Smallville, and Twilight. The last of which is the most aggravating because it’s sent is thrust across the others. So now we know what happens when you involve space creatures with all the joys of teen romance aimed at tween girls.
The cast is attractive. Dianna Agron is eye candy on Fox’s Glee, and here she’s a little different than her TV cheerleader. Teresa Palmer has a deceptively small role as Number 6, basically a female Arnold Schwarzenegger from the second Terminator. The lead, Pettyfer, however dashing he may be, doesn’t have much in the way of personality. I’ve been cursed for a perceived monotone delivery for years, but this guy surely bests me. He’s trying so hard not to break his American accent that he can’t raise his Alex from Apple OS X Snow Leopard voice.
There’s plenty of unbelievable to go around in I Am Number Four. The big example I want to pull from the hat of plot holes is the dog issue. On leaving Florida a lizard is seen sneaking into the family car. When they get to the new home in Ohio this lizard climbs out, then heads for some bushes for what is presumed to be an off-camera metamorphosis. Noises are heard by John and Henri, and this prompts them to open the door of the house to see a small dog outside. Here’s the important part. John wants to keep the dog, and Henri does not. Later on we find that the dog has special traits which indicate that it came with John and Henri when they left their planet. How the two didn’t know this goes unexplored. The whole situation is even more vexing when you consider the dog’s objective: protecting John. Somehow John and Henri are two of the last from their planet and were unaware for 17 years of any other creatures they brought to Earth, and they were fortunate that this dog wants to protect John.
We aren’t done with this just yet. Eventually the dog finds some true usefulness by defending John from some hulking beasts. John, in his continued act of selfishness, flees the scene and never returns to check up on his pet protector. Cut to the end of the film where all the remaining friends converse atop a hill, and the limping canine hero musters the strength to join them. Congrats dog, you returned to protect someone who didn’t know you exist for a number of year nor really cared. This illustrates how empty the universe of I Am Number Four comes across. Instead of exploring the sci-fi and fantasy elements, time is wasted on brooding teen angst. *½