Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I am Number Four
Legacies can make you or break you. they can give you an instant 1-up on the social Pyramid or they can put you in the catacombs below. And others will just plain kill you, or at least they'll try to. For Number Four and his guardian, thats no joke. Fugitives from the planet Lorien, Number Four and his guardian were sent to earth along with 8 other gifted children (all numbered 1-9) and their guardians after the ruthless Mogadorians decimated their planet. These 9 were meant to be raised in hiding and reunite to destroy the Mogs (as the Mogadorains have been dubbed).
That plan is sort of going down the tube though. The Mogs, after all, have snuffed out Numbers 1, 2, and 3, along with their guardians. And on this happy note, we meet Number 4.
Number four doesn't know what normal life is. He doesn't remember his home planet, his parents, or the last time he's stayed in one location on Earth for more than a month or two. All he's had is his Guardian, Henry, and the Jeep that is their getaway vehicle. And quite honestly, he's getting towards the end of his rope with that. Add in the searing scars that have followed the death of each of his predecessors, and this is one legacy he really doesn't want.
So when he and Henri find their place of hiding for the time, in Paradise, Ohio, and he meets a troubled guy like himself and falls in love with a girl in his class, you can guess what begins to happen: As Number Four (who's now going by the unoriginal alias John Smith) finds his niche in life and a place where he belongs, he's a little less heeding of Henri's orders to stay invisible. And when the Mogs catch up with John, there's a guarantee for a showdown that will bring out the mettle in our young hero.
I am Number Four is a coming-of-age story that carries messages of true friendship, bravery, and dedication, as well as the values of family and home. Sarah, our love interest here, is a caring and compassionate girl with a penchant for taking some darn good pictures. Through her, John/Number 4 sees the positive affects of a family and a home. And while Sarah's parents are slightly aloof and clumsy, John simply enjoys his brief experience with family life. Henri is like a surrogate father to John, helping him through his legacies (random instances in which his powers show themselves without him even realizing them) and respecting his drives to stand against the Mogs and fight for what he believes in. We could even say there's a message about loving our enemies, as both John and Sarah forgive the jerky Football Jock at school who causes them plenty of trouble throughout the story. And, at the very least, I found the characters VERY likeable and 3 dimensional (even if the movie wasn't hallelujah).
All good things said, however , this was not the stock PG-13 thriller I was expecting in concerns to content. While my only branching out from safe PG-13's is the Passion of the Christ, some of the content definitely seemed a little much for the audience (teens and pre-teens) this movie is being aimed at. Director D. J. Caruso is well known for his work in such films as Disturbia, an amped-up remake-type film based on the idea behind Jimmy Stewart's 50's murder mystery Rear Window. His style is indeed dark and heavy at times. A scene in a haunted house tractor ride goes awry when (after many fake yet gory looking horror set-ups) afore- mentioned Jerky football jock and his buddies ambush John and Sarah. The following sequence is a lot of running around in the dark,, and for younger viewers it's a frightening sequence. The Mogadorians, aside from being Grotesque in their own appearances, have some pretty harsh weaponry and ways of dealing with things. Worst of all, however, for me, was the language. Just because a movie is set in High school doesn't mean you have to have that kind of language.
If it weren't for these things, I am Number four would be a perfect Matinee thriller. But what is even more heart-breaking is that the film was clearly made with the intention of sequels. being as most of the viewers detected this gimic, however, seems to have sealed I am Number Four's fate.
Writer Paul Asay of PluggedIn.com concluded his review of the film with this quote: "Number Four, the character, may be willing to give up much for us. Number Four, the movie, just wants to take … two hours of our time."
That, unfortunately, just about sums it up.