Netflix UK film review: I Am Number Four
Ivan Radford | On 22, Oct 2014Reading time: 3 mins
Director: D. J. Caruso
Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Callan McAuliffe, Dianna Agron, Kevin Durand
Watch I Am Number Four online in the UK: Netflix UK
It’s not easy being an alien. You want to blend in at high school and be all hot, blonde and good-looking, but you’ve got special powers and you’re on the run from evil aliens with sharp pointy teeth. On top of that, you’ve only got Timothy Olyphant for company. How could things get worse? I Am Number Four does a great job of finding out.
John Smith (Pettyfer) is a Lorien, from the planet Codswallop. He is one of nine young teenagers who all have special powers – mostly the power to be really, really good-looking. But since their world has been destroyed, the super-hot super-teens have fled to Earth to stay alive. Three of them are dead. He is Number Four, he tells us, in a dramatic voice-over.
Trying to kill him are the Mogadorians. You can tell they’re nasty because they have gills, tattoos, no hair and wear hoodies. Assigned to protect John from the Oogaboogaboogas is an experienced, battle-hardened warrior. His name is Henri (Olyphant). Together, they move between towns whenever their location is discovered, mostly thanks to photos of John that are put on Facebook. (Why these ultra-advanced beings don’t just raise their Facebook privacy settings is obviously beyond the comprehension of us mere, average-looking mortals.)
Inevitably, something happens to John: he falls in love with that girl from Glee (Agron). But when Loriens fall in love, it’s not just for plot twists and sexy babies. It’s for life. Cue lots of high school antics, from beating up bullies to making friends with the resident UFO nerd, Sam (McAuliffe). Gradually, Number Four learns to control his powers, which mostly seem to involve his hands lighting up like he’s got two bright iPhones strapped to them.
After an hour of him pretending to be normal and trying to hide his shiny hands, the Megawotsits catch up with Number Four and the film enters Silly CGI Climax Mode. “Silly”, though, isn’t really the word for D. J. Caruso’s sci-fi. Based on something written by James Frey and Jobie Hughes, I Am Number Four isn’t just daft. It’s bonkers. It’s more mental than Knowing. And that had Nic Cage in it.
Still, if it’s a mess of a movie, at least it looks good. The effects are over-the-top in a Michael-Bay-produced-this sort of way – every time something blows up, ultra-babe Number Six (Palmer) turns up to walk away in slow motion. Meanwhile, Pettyfer pouts for most of the movie with his out-of-this-world cheekbones, while Glee’s Dianna Agron does the job as token eye candy. But despite a solid Timothy Olyphant and the likeable Callan McAuliffe, there are no real characters here. There’s certainly no plot. Unless by ‘plot’, you mean ‘shape-shifting dog’. Ridiculously stupid and stupidly ridiculous, I Am Number Four is garbage-level nonsense.