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I Am Number Four

a film by D.J. Caruso

I suppose when one says a movie is good for the kind of movie it is, one is actually saying that said movie really isn't all that good when compared to anything else. As far as what it is - the hopeful beginning of a long and lucrative teen-driven sci-fi franchise (think One Tree Hill meets The X-Men) - the rather inanely titled (and inanely plotted I might add) I Am Number Four sounds all the proper bells and blows all the correct whistles in the seemingly ubiquitous genre of teen-driven sci-fi, and therefore is good for what it is - or at least isn't all that bad for (again) what it is. The only problem (well, its main problem anyway) is that it never goes any further than those aforementioned proper and correct bells and whistles, opting instead for cautious PG-13 moneymaking security over any sort of artistic merit - what artistic merit there is in such a franchise (there I go again).

As far as story goes, I Am Number Four is about nine alien children who have escaped the near-complete decimation of their home world, only to find themselves on Earth, hiding from the world-devouring Mogadorians in what basically amounts to an alien witness protection program. The opening shows us the death of Number Three, and since, for some odd, unexplained reason, the Mogs, as they are referred to, are hunting their prey in numerical order, our intrepid hero and titular protagonist is next on the space-travelling hit list. Taken to a new town by his guardian/protector, once his powers are found out, Number Four becomes the quaintly named John Smith. After this, he enrolls himself in the local high school of his new home, the equally quaintly named Paradise Ohio, and promptly pisses off the school bully, befriends the bullied-upon nerd and falls head-over-heels for the bully's ex-girlfriend. So far, so by-the-book - and trust me, it never gets off page even for a second.

Ending with the proverbial bang (its big climactic battle is actually rather enjoyable, all things considered) and following that up with the inevitable sequel-setting coda (with the ostensibly titled I Am Number Five surely on the bleak Hollywood horizon), this movie franchise-in-the-making is at least competently made, if not just as standard issue as the rest of them, with its formulaic style and studio hack D.J. Caruso at the supposed helm. I suppose what I am trying to say is, for what it is, I Am Number Four isn't really all that bad after all. Of course, with semantics being what they are, this is just another way of saying it is not all that good either. [02/22/11]

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