"It’s not a bad film, not by any means. For what it is, it’s basically what you would expect."
To fully comprehend and enjoy a film such as I am Number Four, you have to hold back any of your preconceptions of what is billed as a teen sci-fi, and put yourself in the mindset of the target audience for whom the film is intended. However, having done so, I still struggled to really enjoy the feature.
It’s not a bad film, not by any means. For what it is, it’s basically what you would expect. It’s a film about an alien called ‘Number Four’ (Alex Pettyfer). He is one of nine (it’s all in the name really) aliens from a planet now extinct – and he is the only surviving member, or so we’re led to believe. As a fugitive, desperately trying to escape from the enemies who are trying to track him down and kill him, just as they did with the previous three, he has to change his identity and move all over America attempting to simply blend in and remain unnoticed. He moves to Ohio and he tries to be a normal kid and go to high school, with his minder Henri (Timothy Olyphant) on his back. With an abundance of special powers at his disposal, the re-named Alien now goes by the name of the very inconspicuous John Smith.
Essentially, it’s the bad guys trying to find and kill the good guy; all quite straight-forward really. Until Number Four falls in love with arty student Sarah (Dianna Agron), which only confuses matters. And then we meet Number Six (Teresa Palmer) which proves there are more of Number Four’s fellow inhabitants alive, which is what allows the film room to manoeuvre and a sequel certainly beckons.
So, as the film ends on somewhat of a cliff-hanger, it allows for the film to develop and become the latest movie franchise, although it remains to be seen whether it can reach the dizzy heights and receive similar acclaim to that of the Twilight or the Transformers series, but it certainly has some potential.
When it comes to film series, much of their appeal and what allows the films to expand and develop as a franchise is the strength of the characters. In order to want a sequel and to want to see how the characters have come along over time, you need to feel a fondness towards them and you need to have a genuine desire to find out what has become of them. However, the lead roles in I am Number Four are devoid of any real personality. The part of Number Four himself hasn’t really got much to him. This isn’t a criticism of Alex Pettyfer, in fact I believe he has a very bright future ahead of him in Hollywood. At just 20 years of age, the British-born actor has years ahead of him to prove himself on the grandest of stages, and with an extremely convincing American accent, and the looks to go with it – I am sure he’ll go far. He has everything in place to become a teen heartthrob, however, the part he is playing in this particular feature lacks charisma, and is deficient of any true personality.
I suppose he could be excused for not really having any charisma or appeal, being an alien. But it is a film – and as an audience we want to connect with the lead part and we want to like him and feel compassion towards him. But it’s hard to be fully empathetic for Number Four, and as a result, it’s difficult to suggest that the franchise is completely attainable. I suppose its target audience is young teenagers, where the action and simply the characters’ good looks come into the equation with far more emphasis, but I just felt that the real lack of depth to any of the characters makes it hard to really feel attached to the film.
But if you’re a young teenager, then this film certainly has its appeal, which, in essence, is what really matters. It has an intriguing story-line, with many twists and turns, including some fun and exciting fight sequences. And to summarise it's probable success as the latest big film series, it’s certain to release a set of action dolls – which is when you know you’ve really made it.