Film: Alien vs passiveness

Title – I Am Number Four

Director – D.J. Caruso

Starring – Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant and Dianna Agron

Release Date – February 25th

I am Number Four is a typical teenage coming-of-age film: boy lives alone with his father, boy moves from town to town regularly, boy meets girl and falls in love, boy is an alien with flashlights for hands. Ok, so maybe it’s not all that typical.

Alex Pettyfer (Stormbreaker) stars as John Smith in this film, which has been adopted from Pittacus Lore’s eponymous novel. John and eight other children were forced to escape their home planet before it was destroyed (in a very, very Superman-esque fashion) when they were infants. These children look identical to normal humans except for superhuman powers that develop as they go through puberty.

As the film opens, we see a child running from unseen pursuers, who is eventually caught and killed. This child was third of the nine, and it is revealed that the same aliens who destroyed their home planet, have tracked the children to Earth. John realises that as number four, he is next on the list and goes on the run. He is not alone however; his guardian, Henri, played by Timothy Olyphant (Hitman) accompanies him and they start a new life.

As for the aliens who are supposedly hunting down these children, a less intimidating bunch of people could hardly be found. Apart from one particularly unsettling scene, the aliens have little to do besides very slowly track down these children and kill them. In fact, they aren’t even given names – even the main alien, who has significant screen time, is rather pathetically credited as ‘Mogadorian Commander.’

This sentiment is carried on throughout the film, with no real evidence of character development. There are some moments of dialogue between John and Henri that buck this trend, but these are exceptions. Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, creators of the television show Smallville: Superman, the Early Years, wrote the screenplay for the film and it seems as though they still have to get the hang of writing emotional conversations.

With all its faults however, it is not a bad little film. The action scenes are well paced, and the visual effects, while not mind-blowing, are competent and decent throughout. Just don’t look for anything revolutionary.

In a nutshell: It’ll keep you busy for an afternoon, but don’t expect it to change your life.