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Review: I Am Number Four

Feb. 18, 2011by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is the fourth survivor of an alien race, called the Lorians, who, as children, escaped a massacre brought on by an evil alien race called the Mogadorians, and have taken refuge on Earth. Of the nine survivors, three have so far been killed, and John is next on the Mogadorian hit list. Along with his warrior protector, Henri (Timothy Olyphant), John takes refuge in a small town, where he falls for a local beauty, Sarah (Dianna Agron) and tries to lead a normal life- all the while the Mogodorians, led by their blood-thirsty Commander (Kevin Durand) close in on their prey.

REVIEW: I AM NUMBER FOUR has to be one of the most cynically packaged blockbusters I've seen in a long time. I AM NUMBER FOUR is based on a book by the so-called Pittaccus Lore, a pseudonym for A MILLION LITTLE PIECES scribe James Frey, and Jobie Hughes. NUMBER FOUR was the inaugural book in Frey's 'Full Fathom Five' publishing company- a company whose mission statement is apparently to duplicate the success of the TWILIGHT franchise, by starting a whole slew of young adult sci-fi series, in the hopes that one of them hits and makes everyone a boatful of money.


Of course, film versions are bound to follow, and I AM NUMBER FOUR is the first. When I say it's a cynically packaged film, I say this because it's all too apparent that the only goal anyone had in mind with this film was to make a lot of $$$$. It's slick, Disney product, and the filmmakers have filled it to the brim with every ingredient they think will make this into another TWILIGHT. It's got a good-looking, heartthrob lead in Pettyfer, an oh-so hip, Pitchfork approved indie soundtrack, a chaste teen romance, a convoluted fantasy mythology, and most importantly, a good dose of sci-fi action to bring in the male audiences. Oh yeah, there's also a cute puppy that gets endangered enough to bring out a few awwww's from time to time.

Sound like fun? Well, it's not. The reason it isn't is that for all its bombast and slickness, there isn't a single thread of originality. Say what you will about the TWILIGHT franchise; anyone who's ready my reviews of that series can plainly see that I'm not a fan. But, at least TWILIGHT has a voice in Stephanie Meyer (for better or worse). I AM NUMBER FOUR has no voice, as the people behind it don't give a damn whether or not they're telling a good story, as their only goal is to make money. That greedy, transparent vibe carries over to the film version.


There's just nothing even remotely interesting going on here. Basically, they've taken TWILIGHT, a bit of THE TERMINATOR, and some STARMAN, thrown it into a blender, and called the result I AM NUMBER FOUR. It seems like no effort whatsoever has been made to distinguish the film from any other shitty genre film that we've been bombarded with over the last few years, with the filmmakers obviously thinking, if it worked for TWILIGHT, it'll work for us.

There's so much wrong with I AM NUMBER FOUR, I barely know where to begin. For one thing, the dialogue in the film is atrocious, especially when delivered by Timothy Olyphant, who's normally a solid actor, but seems embarrassed here. When he says Lorians love forever, the audience I saw this with burst into hysterics. I honestly have no idea what possessed Olyphant (other than a paycheck) to act in this film, as he gets virtually nothing to do, except deliver a lot of dopey exposition about Lorians and Mogodorians while trying to keep a straight face. I consider myself an Olyphant fan (he's terrific on "Justified"), but it's clear the guy does not suit fantasy (or at least this cheesy kind) one bit.

As for our pretty-boy hero, Alex Pettyfer, truth be told, he's not all that bad. I'm sure he'll quickly make his way onto the covers of Teen Beat and he's no worse than someone like Taylor Lautner, or Robert Pattinson. For a twenty-year old actor headlining his first big-time film (although as a youngster, he played Alex Rider in the flop STORMBREAKER), he acquits himself well. That said, he's done no favors by the ludicrous premise and constant stream of mind-numbing dialogue he has to sprout. Pettyfer's already got at least one more film (BEASTLY) in the can, so I suspect we'll be seeing a lot of him in the next few years regardless of whether or not this is a hit. Dianna Argon, from GLEE, makes a cute (and chaste) love interest, but their's no heat whatsoever between the two, although I suppose that's the point, as no one in TWILIGHT ever had any chemistry either.


I AM NUMBER FOUR runs under two hours, but I defy anyone watching this not to be looking at their watch every ten minutes wondering when this is going to come to a merciful end. For the first ninety minutes, I really wanted to be anywhere else. The only thing that keeps it from being a total disaster is the last twenty minutes, when we FINALLY get a few good action scenes. The climax, featuring a scene-stealing turn by Aussie-Goddess Teresa Palmer (complete with a shamelessly cheesy walking away from an explosion shot), is actually fun. I've got to give director D.J Caruso credit, between this and EAGLE EYE, he's shown that he can direct the hell out of a good action sequence. However, twenty minutes of fun does not excuse ninety-minutes of agony. If some effort had been made to give the rest of NUMBER FOUR the kind of energy the last twenty minutes had, it might have excused the complete lack of originality.

I really hate writing these kind of super-negative reviews. I feel like I've been writing a lot of them lately, but I assure you, I do not walk into a film like I AM NUMBER FOUR wanting to hate it. I really hoped it would be a fun ride, like Caruso's EAGLE EYE or DISTURBIA (although THE SALTON SEA remains his only truly good film), but, other than some cool action towards the end, it was not fun in the slightest. If you want to see TWILIGHT all-over again, albeit with aliens, than by all means, see I AM NUMBER FOUR. If, like me, you like even the tiniest shred of originality in your films, than skip this entirely. Don't reward Hollywood with your hard earned dollars to see a soulless retread, which, in the end, is all this movie really is.

Extra Tidbit: For a really good, if depressing, look behind the scenes of James Frey's Full Fathom Five outfit, this is a must read: http://nymag.com/arts/books/features/69474/
Source: JoBlo.com

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11:42PM on 05/11/2011
Im surprised by the low ratings; guess Im glad I didnt fork out the cash to see this in the theaters. I work for DISH Network so they set me up with a nice HD system where I will still be watching this film in HD on May 24th. I hope the HD graphics make up for any mushiness this movie may portray.
Im surprised by the low ratings; guess Im glad I didnt fork out the cash to see this in the theaters. I work for DISH Network so they set me up with a nice HD system where I will still be watching this film in HD on May 24th. I hope the HD graphics make up for any mushiness this movie may portray.
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2:46PM on 02/25/2011

This is NOT Twilight

I am pretty sick of people labeling this movie as a Twilight clone. It is obvious to any nerd worth his or her weight that it is far more comparable to something like SMALLVILLE. Please check out my review at the link here to get a more positive take on this film. [link]
I am pretty sick of people labeling this movie as a Twilight clone. It is obvious to any nerd worth his or her weight that it is far more comparable to something like SMALLVILLE. Please check out my review at the link here to get a more positive take on this film. [link]
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12:53PM on 02/20/2011
For the record I despise anything Twilight. They made vampires sparkle and Warewolves turn into giant puppies.

I read the book and seen the movie yesterday and I have to say I really liked "I Am Number Four". I would compare this movie hade far more in common with a good episode of Smallville then the Twilight Saga.

Loved it and am looking forward to the sequel in both book and movie form.
For the record I despise anything Twilight. They made vampires sparkle and Warewolves turn into giant puppies.

I read the book and seen the movie yesterday and I have to say I really liked "I Am Number Four". I would compare this movie hade far more in common with a good episode of Smallville then the Twilight Saga.

Loved it and am looking forward to the sequel in both book and movie form.
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3:21PM on 02/19/2011

Actually saw this yesterday.

I give this ** 1/2. Except for some hokey parts, it was surprisingly good. It was better than "Twilight" will ever be. Hope this does somewhat descent numbers to warrant a sequel.

Prediction range: $23-25 million.
I give this ** 1/2. Except for some hokey parts, it was surprisingly good. It was better than "Twilight" will ever be. Hope this does somewhat descent numbers to warrant a sequel.

Prediction range: $23-25 million.
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11:50AM on 02/19/2011

thank you

And do keep up the good work. next time you want to write a more positive review go in to the cinema expecting complete bullshit, then the movie might just surprise you, even mildly.
And do keep up the good work. next time you want to write a more positive review go in to the cinema expecting complete bullshit, then the movie might just surprise you, even mildly.
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8:58AM on 02/19/2011
Its funny because i was kinda hoping this might be a fun flick (although as soon as i saw the 'walking away from an explosion with their back to it' scene pretty much told me it was bad..As far as i know ALL films including this shot are bad) Im reading a james frey book right now -'My friend Lenoard- and on the cover it has quotes stating 'mesmerising' 'Brilliant' etc- and Ive got about a hundred pages left and its so dull,the dialogue is cringeworthy, its ripped off of so many other
Its funny because i was kinda hoping this might be a fun flick (although as soon as i saw the 'walking away from an explosion with their back to it' scene pretty much told me it was bad..As far as i know ALL films including this shot are bad) Im reading a james frey book right now -'My friend Lenoard- and on the cover it has quotes stating 'mesmerising' 'Brilliant' etc- and Ive got about a hundred pages left and its so dull,the dialogue is cringeworthy, its ripped off of so many other ideas..the book is that patronising ive actually started to detest the author and now i hear he wrote this turd of a movie.
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5:31PM on 02/19/2011
You know the story behind that, right? He made all that shit up and passed it off as his memoirs. All the positive reviews come from when people though it was true. I still dug A MILLION LITTLE PIECES though- but I HATE his writing style.
You know the story behind that, right? He made all that shit up and passed it off as his memoirs. All the positive reviews come from when people though it was true. I still dug A MILLION LITTLE PIECES though- but I HATE his writing style.
5:04PM on 02/18/2011

lol

I just knew this movie was going to be awful when i saw the trailer which kind of sucks because i like DJ Caruso. Hopefully this a lesson learned for him to which hell leave the teenager franchise alone and go more adult next time.
I just knew this movie was going to be awful when i saw the trailer which kind of sucks because i like DJ Caruso. Hopefully this a lesson learned for him to which hell leave the teenager franchise alone and go more adult next time.
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2:19PM on 02/18/2011
It's kinda funny that you guys bashed this when pretty much everyone involved with the film gave you an interview. I guess it's nice to see that Joblo's opinion can't be bought with a few minutes of face time. However, I do think youre being a little biased. This isn't a movie for you, it's a movie for a completely different demographic. I hate Twilight too, but if this movie is ANYTHING like Twilight then its a well-done movie.
It's kinda funny that you guys bashed this when pretty much everyone involved with the film gave you an interview. I guess it's nice to see that Joblo's opinion can't be bought with a few minutes of face time. However, I do think youre being a little biased. This isn't a movie for you, it's a movie for a completely different demographic. I hate Twilight too, but if this movie is ANYTHING like Twilight then its a well-done movie.
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5:34PM on 02/19/2011
I dunno if I buy that I'm not in the right demographic. I'm 29, and the trailer seemed like it was going for the young males- 12-25, so I'm not THAT far off. There[s such a thing as good teen flicks too. THE LOST BOYS is pretty rad, and more recently THE LOVED ONES kicked my ass- and that even had a TWILIGHT actor in it!
I dunno if I buy that I'm not in the right demographic. I'm 29, and the trailer seemed like it was going for the young males- 12-25, so I'm not THAT far off. There[s such a thing as good teen flicks too. THE LOST BOYS is pretty rad, and more recently THE LOVED ONES kicked my ass- and that even had a TWILIGHT actor in it!
1:24PM on 02/18/2011
Typical Hollywood teen fest.
Hope this doesn't turn aliens into the next sparkly vampires.
Typical Hollywood teen fest.
Hope this doesn't turn aliens into the next sparkly vampires.
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+8
1:19PM on 02/18/2011
Hollywood's too venal...flicks are for kids!
Hollywood's too venal...flicks are for kids!
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12:51PM on 02/18/2011
it looked awful so.. not all that surprised.
it looked awful so.. not all that surprised.
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12:45PM on 02/18/2011

I hope it tanks

because this kid, Pettyfer, is a spoiled, shitty person. And I find it funny that the review says that he and Agron have no chemistry... since they're a couple.
because this kid, Pettyfer, is a spoiled, shitty person. And I find it funny that the review says that he and Agron have no chemistry... since they're a couple.
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11:41AM on 02/18/2011
Did anyone really think this was going to be any good ? Crappy films smell bad months before their release, yet people still manage to be disappointed. I dont understand.
Did anyone really think this was going to be any good ? Crappy films smell bad months before their release, yet people still manage to be disappointed. I dont understand.
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+8
11:18AM on 02/18/2011
If you though Eagle Eye was better than this, then it must REALLY be terrible.
If you though Eagle Eye was better than this, then it must REALLY be terrible.
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+8
10:05AM on 02/18/2011
Actually Chris I think you're review has been pretty consistent with other reviews that I've read for this movie. I've read that its unoriginal, corny in the love deep, include that awful puppy scene, and the only good parts in the film come an hour and half into it. Also that Timothy Olyphant is criminally underused. Your review pretty much solidified all the other I've read
Actually Chris I think you're review has been pretty consistent with other reviews that I've read for this movie. I've read that its unoriginal, corny in the love deep, include that awful puppy scene, and the only good parts in the film come an hour and half into it. Also that Timothy Olyphant is criminally underused. Your review pretty much solidified all the other I've read
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10:01AM on 02/18/2011
I'm sure you're right and the film is awful, but it's not Alex Pettyfer's first lead role, just saying.
I'm sure you're right and the film is awful, but it's not Alex Pettyfer's first lead role, just saying.
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12:01PM on 02/18/2011
Yeah, thumbs down it all you like, he still edited the article to reflect what I said, fuckers.
Yeah, thumbs down it all you like, he still edited the article to reflect what I said, fuckers.
5:36PM on 02/19/2011
Yeah- I fixed my error. I'll admit it. That's why I like getting comments- helps me fix my own screw-ups, of which I'll admit I make plenty.
Yeah- I fixed my error. I'll admit it. That's why I like getting comments- helps me fix my own screw-ups, of which I'll admit I make plenty.
-30
9:16AM on 02/18/2011
I'm sorry Chris but it sure sounds like you went into this film wanting to hate it and anything that in your mind rings of Twilight you always go ape shit on. Perhaps step off these films next time and let someone with an objective view review these films.
I'm sorry Chris but it sure sounds like you went into this film wanting to hate it and anything that in your mind rings of Twilight you always go ape shit on. Perhaps step off these films next time and let someone with an objective view review these films.
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12:14PM on 02/19/2011
Here here!

DarkElfa fuck 'em. You're on the money. Bumbray is more a Expendables type a guy so reviewing a movie like this is not really fair.

Where the fuck is JimmyO?
Here here!

DarkElfa fuck 'em. You're on the money. Bumbray is more a Expendables type a guy so reviewing a movie like this is not really fair.

Where the fuck is JimmyO?
5:20PM on 02/19/2011
Here's an idea guys: what don't you actually go see the movie and make up your own minds before slamming me for not liking it! Just a thought.
Here's an idea guys: what don't you actually go see the movie and make up your own minds before slamming me for not liking it! Just a thought.
9:13AM on 02/18/2011
I knew from the moment that I saw the trailer that "I am number 4" would be a total "number two"
I knew from the moment that I saw the trailer that "I am number 4" would be a total "number two"
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