08 September 2011

Movies: I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1464540/

Action(ish) Sci-Fi(ish) Thriller(ish)

Some aliens called Mogadorians wiped out the beings on another planet, except for a group that relocated to hide on Earth with their guardians. So the Mogs show up on Earth and hunt them down, one by one, to wipe them completely out of existence. Apparently this is taking years to accomplish. We join the story as Number Three's number is up, and we follow Number Four as his time approaches. We quickly learn Number Four and his guardian have to move often to try to escape Mog detection. Four goes to his new school, makes friends with a geek, falls in "like" with a girl, has the Jocks hating him for being the new guy and liking the head jock's ex-girlfriend. Blah blah blah. Lights and explosions.

Think the same story as "Footloose". Except with worse dialog, alien powers instead of dancing, and explosions.

Stars some guy I've never seen before as Number Four. #4's bodyguard is played by Timothy Olyphant, that Ryan Seacrest lookin dude from Justified and a few other movies. Kevin Durand, who was Keamy in Lost, is the head Mog.  And some cute young actresses I've never seen before too. I suppose if I watched "Glee" I'd recognize Dianna Agron, she plays 4's love interest.

For me this film seemed like someone had a halfway decent core story idea and it probably got rewritten a few times to fit into a marketing box resulting in what finally ended up on screen. I noticed Marti Noxon is the last credited of the 3 screenwriters, which means she was probably brought in near the end to punch up the script. Her name is familiar from such projects as 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and 'Angel', and pretty much anything else that has Joss Whedon alums working on 'em.

Lightweight in the Sci-Fi department. About the only sci-fi(ish) thing about the film is it involves aliens that look like people, more or less, and they have seemingly otherworldly weapons and powers. Lightweight in the Action and Thriller departments too. CGI monsters look like old-school CGI monsters, complete with appearance in darkish scenes to try to hide their CGI-ness. They don't integrate with the real world well at all.  I don't understand the alien death results- both alien races turn to dust when they die. Maybe Noxon brought in that detail? Doesn't make sense. It isn't the weapon that does it - at least one of the deaths doesn't involve an alien weapon and the end result was the same.

Seemed more targeted to a "Twilight" audience than to sci-fi fans. For some reason it also reminded me of "The Covenant", which is a film I can't remember a thing about except that I didn't particularly like it and had completely forgotten until I saw "I Am Number Four" (IAN4). Crazy, right? I'm supposing because the way it is targeted to a younger audience where someone has decided that flashing lights and explosions and 20+ years old "teenagers" running around "discovering" their new powers trumps any need to have a good story or dialog. Perhaps tossing the viewing experience for IAN4 into the mental dustbin shook up some vestigial recollections of "Covenant" out or something.

I can't bring myself to blame Noxon, nor Olyphant or Durand for the end result. Those folks signed on and did their jobs best they could with what they had to work with. I think this was produced to death with goals in mind that probably gutted any bits of a good story to target the "Twilight" audience. 

If you don't mind watching the same story as every other "new kid in school makes the wrong friend likes the wrong girl so the big bad jocks turn on 'em" film with a sci-fi(ish) spin with alien powers and explosions, go for it. Not nearly as bad as, say, "Mega Python vs. Gatoroid", but lacking in MPvG's train-wreck entertainment value. If you're a nerd for sci-fi you'll probably be disappointed.

If you've seen it - what was up with that box? Did I blink and miss its significance? And what was with the protector's weapons? How were they significant beyond their glowy handle?  Ugh my brain hurts thinking about it.

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