Fight Film Friday: I Am Number Four

Posted: February 19, 2011 in fight film friday
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I Am Number Four
USA, 2011
Genre: Action, Science Fiction
110 minutes

A teen with strange powers hides out in a small Ohio town, where he begins to unravel his mysterious past.

Based on the novel of the same name, I Am Number Four is a pretty typical piece of young adult science fiction brought to the big screen like other cash-in projects before it. As a film it’s well made enough, I suppose, but everything about its production is so unremarkable that I doubt it will be any kind of blockbuster. The look works fairly well most of the time, but there were definitely some poor choices by the cinematographer, especially in regards to the handheld camera scenes. The special effects were decent by themselves, but the art direction was so uninspired and genre typical that it takes away any punch that the flashiness may have had.

The actors do what they can with the material given them, but not all the blame can be placed on the clichéd dialogue or contrived plot devices. Even though the script was about as bland as they come, the performances were equally as superficial and boring to boot. Alex Pettyfer and Timothy Olyphant have pretty good chemistry as a father-son duo, but their scenes with just about everyone else in the cast is so woefully vanilla that it’s like watching reruns of any Disney channel original movie with a sci-fi twist. The premise of the film is interesting enough, but everything about the execution is just so plainly teen drama that it removes any possibility of a substantive narrative.

As I mentioned before, the effects themselves are pretty enough, and the same could be said for the action sequences peppered throughout the story. There isn’t really enough action to keep your attention anyway, but they do put at least some effort into the scenes at the climax of the movie. The hand-to-hand fights are actually pretty neat, but generall aren’t shot very well and thereby lose a lot of the energy. As video games strive to be more like films, we can see the parallel as films try to look more like video games, to the medium’s detriment.

Honestly, it’s pretty apparent that I, and probably not anyone reading this review either, am definitely not the target audience for this series and its likely sequels. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that this movie is insipid and completely unimaginative, meant to be a bridge in the gap between teenage girls looking for a sweet and funny romance and teenage boys looking for a flashy action adventure movie. For anyone above the age of sixteen, I can’t imagine I Am Number Four being worth the price of admission.

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