I Am Number 4 Review
By Bret Dorman
Back in high school I basically spent every moment not paying attention to any teacher or subject and off in my own fantasy world where I was a badass superhero or 50’s style P.I. I didn’t learn much about the Reconstruction Period or Calculus, but I did learn how to daydream like a pro.
Even now, at work, most of my time is spent daydreaming about being anywhere else other than at work doing anything else other than work. It makes the day go by, well, not faster, but easier. Besides, at work I take pictures of tourists, then sell them back at overpriced amounts. Who wouldn’t rather be battling Ninjas to save a beautiful Princess? Oh yeah, and I have a rocket launcher.
In fact, most of anything I do is spent daydreaming instead of doing what I am actually doing. The only times I’m not daydreaming are when I am watching movies (which are other peoples daydreams on a giant screen) or doing improv (which is just enacting daydreams with other people).
I Am Number 4 is a daydream. Only instead of anything cool happening, its just some loser who got picked on in high school a bunch daydreaming about being cool when in fact he is not in real life or fantasy land.
The Story: The new kid in town goes to high school to learn that jocks are mean (but one always has the capability of changing his ways), nerds are people too, and artsy quirky chicks are like, way totally cooler than cheerleaders, given that they are just as hot. Also, he is an alien who has to stay away from other mean aliens.
I can’t tell if a teenager wrote this or if it was written for teenagers. I mean, all of the characters are 1 dimensional and uber cliches. The love triangle of main character, quirky chick, and jock doesn’t even make sense. When its introduced that artsy chick and jock boy used to date it is as if they put it in the script but didn’t bother to give any build up or hints to it. I’m pretty sure this movie was a first draft.
But before I go on about how bad this movie was, let me say that for being an action movie, there are no good discernible action scenes until the very very end. The first 15 minutes of the last 20 minutes has the final confrontation between bad aliens and our hero guy. And for being bad stupid characters that I didn’t care about, they actually got one thing right. Attitude. When the main hero guy decides to start trying to be cool and use his telepathic powers, he actually shows us some glimmers of hope. Some moments of little nuggets where he telepathically throws a chair just the right way or looks at a character with a certain glance.
Its amazing how this terrible terrible movie can do this one thing right. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the movie and the action itself is horrible-to-slightly-bad at best, but they actually did get the one thing right that if other action movies could do, would make them one notch better.
But other than getting that one tiny aspect right for less than a quarter of the movie does NOT redeem this from sucking. When I go see a stupid action movie like this I’m not looking for genius writing or memorable characters, but some attempt to show us something new would be kind of cool. Or at least nice.
Instead, this movie was written by people who lack any real imagination. Let’s see some of the things this movie has:
– New kid in high school who gets picked on for being different
– ‘Artsy quirky’ chick whose ‘quirk’ is photography
– Nerdy kid who is into space and has a mean step father but whose real father was super cool!
– A climactic fight scene at… a fair…
– A tough body guard who is just trying to look out for the main character
– A tough “badass” (I use this term VERY sarcastically) biker chick who has to save the main character and spouts out super corny one liners because she is three steps ahead of him on ‘The Hero’s Journey’
– Mean aliens who don’t know how to be nice and act funny because they are aliens!
One of ‘the big action beats’ is just the main character running ALONE in the woods. That’s not cool or exciting. That’s desperate. That’s putting in ‘action’ for the sake of action and failing completely. Every action beat until the final one makes any scene from a newer Straight-to-DVD Steven Seagal Movie look like a John Woo-esque Masterpiece.
One of the big ‘daydream’ fantasies comes in the form of a bunch of jocks picking on the nerd by throwing a football at him and knocking him down (its actually a pretty funny ‘America’s Funniest Videos’ hit in the head type moment) and then the hero guy takes the ball and SUPER DUPER throws it back and knocks down one of the jocks who tried to catch it. OMG! Like, he’s so totally strong because like, he’s an alien! And like, he totes just pwned that jock. U had to be there…
Also, it breaks my heart to see Timothy Olyphant in this. Of course he had the best role (bodyguard) and the best action moment. He was the only part of this movie that was worth paying attention to but then again, he’s innately badass. Wish he could of spent his Justified hiatus time doing something more note worthy.
In Conclusion: Its crappy action movies like this that give big budget action fests a bad name. With no real passion or innovation in any area of this movie, one has to wonder… why did they pick February to release the first (and hopefully last) of a special effects driven outer space franchise thats based on a book no one read? Nothing about that makes sense…
Final Grade: D (not an F because that one section bumped it up a notch.)