REVIEW: I Am Number Four

25 05 2011

If you are willing to get over the initial corniness of the plot of “I Am Number Four,” you might find that it’s not so bad.  In fact, it’s actually quite enjoyable.  The movie is high-octane action with plenty of noise, but there’s something there that I can’t quite enumerate or describe.  It’s a movie I kept telling myself I shouldn’t like (I mean, it IS a Michael Bay-produced venture) – yet I wound up having some of the most fun I’ve had at a sci-fi movie in a long time.

The story isn’t anything spectacular: Number Four (Alex Pettyfer) is an alien on earth hiding from the Mogadorians, a hostile tribe that invaded their home planet and intends to kill the nine toddlers who escaped.  But here’s the catch – they can only be killed in sequence, and three are dead.  Masquerading as John Smith in Paradise, Ohio, Number Four tries to blend in to the high school crowd to lay low, befriending the conspiracy theorist Sam (Callan MacAuliffe) and wooing the big jock’s girl, Sarah (Dianna Agron from TV’s Glee).

On paper, it actually sounds kind of stupid.  The acting isn’t exactly spectacular, nor does it provide any profound insights into alienation or bullying in modern high schools.  (Trust me, I just finished four years of high school.)  But even though on paper, “I Am Number Four” doesn’t seem to work, on screen it actually does.  Why is that?

I think it has to be because of the energy that D.J. Caruso endows the movie.  Just like his previous helming efforts, “Disturbia” and “Eagle Eye,” there’s an electricity and excitement that bursts through the screen and infects the viewer.  He keeps the movie running at a perfectly paced clip, adeptly balancing human elements and big bangs.  Caruso takes the audience on a roller-coaster ride, that although familiar, still provides a walloping dose of fun. B+