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I AM NUMBER FOUR

SYNOPSIS:
John (Alex Pettyfer) is a unique teenager, with extraordinary powers. He looks human but ...he is the fourth in a series of sentinels from another planet, sent to protect Earth from the other aliens, the vicious destroyers, the Mogadorians. Guarded by Henri (Timothy Oliphant), John finds it hard to blend in as they move from one community to another. But to avoid detection by the Mogadorians, that's what he and Henri have to do. When in the latest town he falls for pretty Sarah (Dianna Aragon), it's hard to hide his real identity - with all its powers. When he stand up for bullied schoolmate Sam (Callan McAuliffe), John triggers the enmity of the bullies, lead by Mark (Jake Abel) who was recently dumped by Sarah, which makes things worse. As the Mogadorians close in, John has to make some tough decisions about his future, and is supported by a surprise ally (Teresa Palmer).

Review by Louise Keller:
It may not be Terminator 2, but Teresa Palmer's line 'Hit me with your lemon; I need to power up' has a certain ring about it. Palmer, wearing black leather, crimped blonde hair and an over-the-top demeanour as Number Six is not the only Australian in this genre film; Callan McAuliffe is darned good as the nerdy UFO-believing Sam, who befriends the film's protagonist John Smith, played by Alex Pettyfer. There are some good things about this sci-fi teen thriller-cum-creature feature that promises to spawn its own franchise, delivering a combo of scares, cheesy moments and slew of special effects.

Some script elements let it down and it doesn't rate high in the originality stakes, but director D. J. Caruso keeps it on track and generally speaking it will meet the expectations of its young target market that knows what producer Michael Bay, who specializes in excess, delivers.

A place is only as good as the people you know in it is the general theme of the film, which after a couple of teases, begins in earnest as John and his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant) relocate to Paradise - the Ohio version. John, who comes from the planet Lorien and has a legacy of functions that give him strength, speed, dexterity and powerful lights that glow from the palms of his hand, is told not to draw attention to himself. As fate would have it, his torch-like hands start to shine right in the middle of the movie screening in the darkened classroom. Invisible he is not. And with alpha male bullies at his new high school and a pretty girl called Sarah (Dianna Agron) who sees better through the lens of her camera (and puts here photos online), there is no chance he will be unnoticed.

Pettyfer plays John Smith in brooding style - a bit like Edward in Twilight without the charisma, as he discovers his physical powers and the effect he has on Sarah. The romance between John and Sarah is nicely done - like the faithful Edward, aliens like John only fall in love once (romantics take note). The evil alien Mogadorians with their sharp, discoloured teeth, acute sense of smell and conspicuous head markings are the villains intent on killing John (and his numbered counterparts), but somehow things get a little muddled when an army of deformed monsters are let loose. Nonetheless, they keep the special effects department busy and make for colourful conflicts, if you don't analyse any of it too much.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The producer is Michael Bay. You hardly need to know much more, but here it is anyway.

I Am Number Four is promoted as a teenage sci-fi action thriller; it's true, that's what is the film's outer shell, but at its core, it's a Romeo & Juliet love story which has been shoehorned into the sci-fi thriller genre. In this film, Juliet is an ordinary American teenager who has just woken up to the fact that her bully boyfriend, Mark (Jake Abel) is an idiot. She has taken up photography while he's taken up nothing.

When she meets her Romeo, John (Alex Pettyfer), she finds a sympathetic teenager closer to her sensibilities. But - he's from another planet. He has hot palms which beam like spotlights. He can stop objects with invisible force. And Mark has it in for him. John is chasing forbidden love with Sarah, because he mustn't get involved with anyone. Too risky. And another thing, the likes of John (real name unknown) fall in love only once and it's forever. That's as romantic as Twilight, and with as much unsatisfied longing.

But Michael Bay doesn't produce wimpy, romantic films. The action gears up as the film moves into fifth gear, with Mogadorians wielding massive guns, fighting John and his superpowers, while Sam (Callan McAuliffe) tags along looking for his missing father, a man who knew the truth was out there.

There are no fights unfought in this film, and just when you thought the firestorm is over, along comes another. It's everything a teenage audience wants, with some romantic cues to ensure the boys bring the girls. It's very well made, with D. J. Caruso inspirational as the team leader directing traffic, and everyone gives it all they've got, from the cast to the department heads. Not my bag, but well done.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

I AM NUMBER FOUR (M)
(US, 2011)

CAST: Alex Pettyfer, Dianna Agron, Timothy Oliphant, Teresa Palmer, Kevin Durand, Jake Abel, Callan McAuliffe, Judith Hoag

PRODUCER: Michael Bay

DIRECTOR: D. J. Caruso

SCRIPT: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Marti Noxon (novel by Jobi Hughes, James Frey)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Guillermo Navarro

EDITOR: Vince Filippone, Jim Page

MUSIC: Trevor Rabin

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tom Southwell

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 24, 2011 (Sneaks February 18 - 20, 2011)







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