Four-gettable: Review for I Am Number Four

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In all honesty, I Am Number Four should have been a made for television movie that would end up airing on the Disney channel. But, because Michael bay enjoys explosions and big budget effects, this one got sent to the theaters. This dry, forgettable, hopeless piece of nothingness is barely enough to stay in my memory only a day after having watched it. It was that unexciting.

As bad as that sounds, I Am Number Four isn’t abhorrent. It isn’t even disgustingly bad. It was just so unnoticeable and common and conventional, it’s not worth your time to hate it. Martian boy John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) must run from new place to new place much like someone in the Witness Protection Program. And, in alien terms, that’s exactly what he’s in. Part of a secret clan called “the Nine”; a gang of villains called the “Mogdaloriens” are hunting down the remaining aliens one by one, and in numerical order.  And John Smith must go by wonderfully creative aliases to get by. Did I bore you yet?

Much of the problems that this movie presents is that, not only is it deathly conventional, but it takes itself way too seriously. Normally, coming from a formulaic Disney movie, we can count on it being so un-serious that it weighs the movie down. This works conversely here. Every line is strained and brainless and sounds so deeply obnoxious that one can’t help but cringe. And yet, everything seems halfhearted at the same time. It’s an overall maddening experience.

Pettyfer can’t act and his main purpose seems to be “just stand there and look pretty”, which he does excellently, as evidenced by his place on my man crush list, despite his inability to act. Dianna Agron is sweet and I suppose one of the few ultimately tolerable things about the movie. She plays Sarah, the troublemaking photographer of Paradise High. Her Glee goodie goodie preps her excellently for this role, and, in essence, she doesn’t really have to strain for much else in either situation. Teresa Palmer has a very underwritten role as Number 6, and her job is also “just stand there and look pretty”, or rather, “bad ass”. While she has some kick ass action sequences, she doesn’t get much else, except for scenes when she’s just brooding. Timothy Olyphant (FX’s Justified) is Henri, basically Number 4’s bodyguard, though he assumes the role of the father. He’s fine, but as with the rest of the cast, nothing to really write about. There is no urgency or emotion or believability in these role, and even when the actors strain to get emotion, they do so unsuccessfully.

Michael Bay, who seems to me to be evil incarnate, produced this lousy movie. So did, strangely enough, Steven Spielberg. One usually depends on names like Spielberg to bring them top notch movies, but in this case, this is a huge letdown. It’s so forgettable, I’m having trouble mustering enough disdain for it. It was just so unoriginal and so boring. There’s a line in Casablanca where Peter Lorre asks Humphrey Bogart, “You despise me, don’t you?” Bogart replies fittingly, “If I gave you any thought, I probably would.”  The same goes for this movie; if I gave it any thought, I would probably despise it.

Grade: C-

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