I Am Number Four
I Am Number Four 2011
This was a movie that I never really paid much attention to other than I’ve seen it float around occasionally on other people’s superhero movie lists. I always thought it was more of a sci-fi movie based off a YA novel following the Twilight trend. Instead of vampires and werewolves, they used aliens, and for the most part, that’s what this is. Though there is a slight difference with the ending of this as there is an element of saving the world which brings the movie just over the line for me into superhero territory. Especially as they are aliens with super powers. Unfortunately, most of the film doesn’t care about the alien super powers and instead is focused on the ultra generic high school romance complete with the group of football player bullies, the quarterback who used to date the girl the hero likes, and they pick on the UFO obsessed nerd who becomes the hero’s friend. There are a few moments at the end that try to make up for it, but it’s too little too late.
The sci-fi elements of this movie are rather obtuse and don’t make a whole lot of sense. There’s this alien race that have sent their children to Earth and there’s a second race that wants to colonize Earth or just take all of the resources. It’s not entirely clear and/or barely explained over the course of a dull voice over at the beginning of the movie. The hero aliens each have different abilities that are supposed to be able to go against the villain aliens and they’re also numbered and can only be killed in numerical order for some reason. We’re introduced to number three in the opening in a random jungle and he does Yoda-style flips that are just as ridiculous looking while our hero who eventually goes by John Smith has a light up leg in the middle of the ocean. The hero aliens also each have a guardian who don’t seem to have the same powers, they just have some alien weaponry. And the villain aliens have giant alien beasts as pets/hounds, bald heads with tattoos, and a set of gill-like slits on either side of their nose.
The evil alien Mogadorians were hit and miss throughout the movie. For the majority of the run time they were just basically empty vessel threats that floated on their weird look to get them through but didn’t really have any personality to them. There were just a couple scenes in the third act where the head Mogadorian got a couple moments to really shine in a weird way where he has this very unusual way of speaking as he talks about a comic book with a couple of conspiracy theory nuts and when he confronts the stereotypical bully with his sheriff father. There was one odd scene in the middle of the film that didn’t make any real impact to the plot or the characters where the Mogadorians are driving down the highway and there’s a fat kid in a vehicle next to them and one of the aliens in the passenger seat pulls his hoodie back to reveal his tattooed head and snarls at the kid to scare him. It was weird, and the scene added nothing to the movie whatsoever.
The worst part of the film was the extremely stereotypical high school stuff. John Smith comes into a new school where he’s introduced as the new kid and immediately notices the quirky cute girl that he eventually starts dating, runs afoul of the football bullies, and befriends the outcast nerd that the bullies go after. It’s frustrating how predictable all of the high school relationships are, especially as the head bully used to date the quirky girl. It doesn’t help that Smith’s guardian mentions that when their race finds a mate, they mate forever, which adds that mythical sense of forever love to a high school puppy love situation. There’s the typical meet-cute and the bully the bullies situation. And of course there’s a random house party filled with drinking for no reason whatsoever. And to top it all off, at the end of the movie, the bully turns around and acts like he’s friends with Smith just because of the big alien battle despite no real reconciliation between them.
The other halfway decent part of the film are the few action scenes. Despite the fact that Smith’s main power makes no sense as the power that he most often displays are blue lights shining out of the palms of his hands which are typically more of an inconvenience rather than a benefit. At least until another alien comes into play and that’s part of his ability to transfer energy from himself to another alien. The other alien is Number Six played by Teresa Palmer and she’s the other good part of the movie as the requisite badass good girl who shows up and saves him before they ride off into the sunset to find more of their kind to battle the villain aliens. She’s pretty great but in a very limited role, and she’s also introduced in the beginning of the movie with a random cool chicks don’t look at explosions moment. The special effects in general with all the action scenes are fairly mediocre considering the fact that this was a theatrical release. There’s a dog that turns into an alien beast and it barely looked any better than the Hulk dogs from Ang Lee’s movie in 2003 which was nearly ten years earlier than this. All in all, this felt like a YA cash grab to try and jump on the Twilight bandwagon but it didn’t have enough meat on its bones to make a worthwhile story. None of it was cohesive and all the teenage stuff was overly stereotypical. The overall concept could be taken into an interesting place, but as it is, it’s pretty skipable. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.