DVD REVIEW: I Am Number Four

A column article, Shot For Shot by: The DVD Squad
The DVD Squad

Jason Sacks: So... I Am Number Four. It got 31% on Rotten Tomatoes from the critics but 63% from viewers. Are we cup half full or cup half empty on this movie?

Justin Carmona: I am exactly down the middle with this one, but the cup is slowly leaking the more I think about it.

Danny Djeljosevic: I think it is quite awful and artificial, but amusing depending on how much you value your time.

Paul Brian McCoy: I had moderate hopes, given the talent involved, but it wasn't until it turned into a big stupid action film that I started enjoying it.

Carmona: It has a pretty good (but by no means original) premise. And the film just didn't have that jaw-dropping moment for me that would propel it into the "really great movie" catagory.

McCoy: Of course, I liked it SO MUCH BETTER when it was Syn-bionic Titan.

Sacks: Was it just me, or did it feel an awful lot like a ScyFy channel pilot?

Carmona: I felt kinda like one of the Twilight crowd when watching this. And I hate Twilight. LOL!

Djeljosevic: I Am Number Four's first act lasts 90 minutes, and there is no second or third act. It's all set-up.

McCoy: LOL! Well, it was based on the first of a proposed six novel series (only the first of which is even out yet).

Djeljosevic: Yeah, this was made by James Frey's young adult novel ghostwriting factory. Do you guys know about this?

Sacks: I didn't know that, Paul. It makes a lot more sense when you look at it in that light.

Carmona: Never heard of 'em.

McCoy: Yeah, Frey's kind of poisonous, but I have to admit I liked the core idea.

Djeljosevic: Here's the story. It's really fascinating.

Djeljosevic: Basically, James Frey, that guy who wrote the fake memoir A Million Little Pieces, hires creative writing MFAs to write what he thinks will be the "next big thing" in young adult novels. He pays 'em like bucks, I think, and the contracts are so draconian that the writers have no claim to the rights of the thing and cannot talk about their involvement at all. They get really screwed over in the process.

Sacks: This article looks like a great read.

Carmona: Shit. I don't know about you guys, but I can use three grand if that means I don't really have to try.

Djeljosevic: I'd half-ass a novel for three grand, but there are so many stipulations that it's not really worth the money.

Carmona: The only thing I really enjoyed about the film was Timothy Olyphant. I had no idea he was gonna be in this. It was a very nice surprise.

Djeljosevic: Timothy Olyphant is having a ball in that role, as the only real actor in it.

McCoy: Kevin Durand has fun as the Mogadorian Commander, even if you can't tell who it is under the make-up. And given what he has to work with.

Djeljosevic: Yeah, when the Mogadorian guy's talking to the bully kid, I wished the entire movie had them showing personality.

Sacks: Did you guys watch the extended scene with the Mogadorian guy and the UFO conspiracy guy? That was great fun.

Carmona: Ugh... those are some of the lamest villains I have ever seen. Every time they were in a scene it was like witnessing a puppy being crushed. I cringed every time, it was so horrible.

McCoy: It's hard to show a lot of personality when you're engulfed in high school clichés. For the better part of the film, anyway.

Djeljosevic: The Mogadorians seemed borrowed from Dark City. And, just like that movie, the protagonists are blank slates.

Carmona: Every time he spoke it was like he had to blow his nose. I just wanted to jump in the movie and hand him a tissue.

McCoy: My favorite thing about the whole experience was probably listening to D.J. Caruso explain why those extra scenes were cut. It made me think there was actually some thought being put into the production.

Sacks: The Mogadorians were way too easily beaten. They were pathetically easy to beat in a battle.

Djeljosevic: Even worse, the bad guys die like Buffy vampires.

McCoy: To be fair, we don't really see any tech or get any sort of establishing of the back-story beyond "We were conquered and our secret weapons are hiding on Earth (for some reason)".

Carmona: Dark City. Now there's a film. But I digress...

McCoy: Love Dark City. First Blu-ray I bought.

McCoy: They're just generic thugs is the problem.

Carmona: And out of all the tech these alien races have, you mean to tell me that the protectors or whatever they’re called, all they had was some fancy blade that lit up at the hilt? C'mon.

Sacks: I think there was a lot of thought in this movie. Unfortunately I think a lot of the thought was of the type of "Let's create a new Twilight-like franchise."

Carmona: Exactly Jason. This was totally aimed at the glittery vampire crowd.

Djeljosevic: Yeah, this whole movie feels engineered instead of crafted. From the cool alt-rock soundtrack to the generic high school trappings (thanks to a screenplay written by the creators of Smallville). I half-expected SOMEBODY SAAAAVE MEEEE to play.

Sacks: LOL Danny.

McCoy: I'm going to credit Marti Noxon with all the good stuff.

Sacks: Right Paul - and that was one of the real flaws to me. We're told there's a threat and a reason for Number Four to run, but we're not shown anything substantial.

McCoy: It didn't really do much of anything to establish the world these characters inhabited.

Carmona: I hated that clichéd scene that number 6 or whatever her name was (that's how memorable this movie is) I hated when she walked away with her back to an explosion. How many times have we seen this in a movie?

McCoy: Number Six made me go from indifferent to wanting to like the film. Embrace your clichés!

Djeljosevic: I feel like you can never fault screenwriters who have to adapt YA novels like this. Look at poor Melissa Rosenberg, the Dexter writer who has to adapt all the Twilight films. They just have NOTHING to work with.

That explosion scene was hilarious because it was set to a soulful Adele song, which is the opposite of an explosion.

McCoy: I wanted more ridiculousness!

Carmona: I really enjoyed the haunted carnival ride scene. Not the fight, but the actual haunted ride itself. It looked like fun.

Sacks: Yeah, that was nicely ridiculous, I thought.

McCoy: I just wish the haunted carnival ride had been one of those "You're Going To Hell" rides instead. Something a little different. Abortions being performed, underage drinking, disobeying parents, etc.

Djeljosevic: Yeah, that would be really small-town appropriate.

McCoy: It was Ohio.

Carmona: And I couldn’t get over Number Four's flashlight hands. It was waay too absurd. LOL!

Djeljosevic: Maybe the aliens are space-ravers.

Carmona: LMAO! Good one, Danny!

Sacks: Why did his hands start glowing during class when he was being harassed? Did I just miss the explanation?

McCoy: It wasn't a sex-ed film was it?

Djeljosevic: His X-gene was finally exhibiting?

Carmona: He's like the Hulk. Don't make him angry or he'll blind you to death with his powerful flash light palms.

Sacks: Not the flash light palms! Eek!

McCoy: It's all about the hormones, people.

Djeljosevic: "We'll be able to see in a dim room!"

Carmona: Bet it makes for some interesting masturbation with the lights out.

Sacks: LOL! That section felt a bit like an X-Men origin to me.

McCoy: I'm sure it was supposed to.

Sacks: The harassed teen who suddenly manifests his powers...

Djeljosevic: We mock, but imagine how easily he'll be able to find his car keys.

Carmona: He can work on an airport runway!

Sacks: I wish my wife had glowing hands. That would be fun, and she'd never lose her keys.

Carmona: You know, that actor is the same one from that Beastly movie. I only know this cause I IMDB'd him.

Djeljosevic: Alex Pettyfer MORE LIKE ALEX PRETTYFUR AM I RIGHT? I am not.

McCoy: I knew him (Alex Pettyfer) from Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker.

Carmona: Dude's typecast. Don't be surprised if he shows up in the next Twilight.

Sacks: He's prettier than either of the girls in the movie.

McCoy: I'm not sure why I knew him from that. Surprisingly, he younger than either of the girls. That was a surprise. Thus, "surprisingly". Um...

Djeljosevic: All these beautiful outcasts. Diana Agron's character used to date the quarterback, but now she's a deep, introspective photographer? I call bullshit, movie.

McCoy: To be fair, everyone's beautiful in this film. Even the nerd isn't ugly.

Carmona: I wished I was as good looking as the nerd guy back in high school. Wait. The bully's dad was ugly. Guess they needed a token ugly person in this film.

Djeljosevic: Parents are allowed to be relatively unattractive. But never the teens!

Sacks: Never a pimple on a teenager's face! It's forbidden!

McCoy: Especially parents who are cops.

Carmona: Just noticed that ILM did the visual effects. Interesting. That whole dog creature of Number Four's, that whole scene made me think of the first Harry Potter movie for some reason.

Djeljosevic: It's all the same generic Star Wars cartoon beast CGI. I think the same beast shows up in Thor, pretty much.

Sacks: The critic from Washington Post called the actors plucked from an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog.

The CGI beasts looked really generic and unconvincing, yeah.

McCoy: If only Number Four's pimples had lit up.

Carmona: Or his nipples.

Sacks: You know what character I loved? The dog.

Djeljosevic: I'm going to remember I Am Number Four as a series of dog reaction shots.

Carmona: Yeah, the dog was awesome in cute little dog form.

McCoy: It's easy to love the dog. It doesn't have to deliver any horrible lines.

Sacks: He was clearly the smartest character in the movie.

Djeljosevic: The scene at the end where the injured dog comes back like a cop's partner in crutches had me howling in laughter. That dog has a future in movies, I tell you. Hopefully he'll get his own saccharine dog movie. I Am Number Woof.

Sacks: groan

Carmona: Enter price is right losing sound effect.

Carmona: Other than Olyphant, the dog was the best actor in the whole film.

Sacks: Olyphant was so wasted. I know how much you love his work, Paul.

McCoy: Olyphant didn't really do anything special here. He was just Olyphant. Who doesn't love Olyphant being Olyphant?

Carmona: Yeah, but he's freaking Olyphant!

Djeljosevic: Maybe Timothy Olyphant can be in the movie with the dog.

McCoy: Deadwoof.

Sacks: I just want another season of Deadwood.

McCoy: Hah! Too quick!

Sacks: Well done, Paul.

McCoy: One man's well done is another man's oh please.

Carmona: So did this movie actually make any money?

Djeljosevic: Yeah, $120 million worldwide

Carmona: I only ask because does this mean we are gonna see a sequel?

Djeljosevic: It debuted at I Am Number Two here in the states.

McCoy: It almost made back its budget in America. No sequels.

Sacks: Disney Channel TV show?

Carmona: Thank God. I didn't want to have to meet 7-9.

McCoy: It opened with less gross than both Jumper and Percy Jackson. Both opened the same weekend previous years. No sequels all around!

Djeljosevic: But seriously, this is the kind of movie I can't stand, where they just adapt the first book where nothing happens and there won't be any sequels. People are going to remember the early '10s as an era full of incomplete stories.

McCoy: That's what the start of a century is for.

Djeljosevic: I almost feel the same way when I review the first issue of a comic book. "Yep, this first film is all set up, but it might pick up in the sequels."

Carmona: Damn you Kevin Smith and Daredevil The Target! Sorry. The subject of incomplete stories made me think of that.

Sacks: Are we ready to rate this puppy?

Sacks: I go . It wasn't horrible, just kind of meh for me.

Carmona: I give it . The second bullet is for the dog and Olyphant.

Djeljosevic: I give it , because, for all the derivativeness, it made me laugh. Would make fun of again.

McCoy: Aside from an exciting opening scene, the entire first half of the film was a waste of time. I was ready to turn it off. However, once the action started, especially the arrival of Number Six, I started digging it. Enough to make me want to see more, even. I'd give it a very generous .

Carmona: Generous.

Sacks: Any final thoughts we want to share on this flick?

McCoy: The bloopers made me laugh.

Carmona: If you're a twelve year old girl who loves Twilight, Justin Bieber and cute puppies, then this movie is for you.

Djeljosevic: This is a disappointing sequel to Push.

McCoy: Now Push is a film I'd like to watch sometime.

McCoy: We should have a CB film club.

Carmona: Bieber fans will love this! Not the film club. The movie we were just discussing.

Djeljosevic: Same here, I've always been curious about it. I would like to recommend this film directly to Justin Bieber.

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