18 March 2011

I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four

Starring Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron, Kevin Durand, Teresa Palmer, Callan McAuliffe, Jake Abel
Written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Marti Noxon
Based on the novel "I Am Number Four" by Pittacus Lore
Directed by D.J. Caruso
Release: 18 February 2011
DreamWorks, 114 mins., Rated PG-13

It’s no shocker why Alfred Gough and Miles Miller were recruited to pen this adaptation of another teen sci-fi drama, after all, this movie could be mistaken for a SMALLVILLE episode from the earlier years, a show telling the tale of Superman in high school being forced to control his “abilities” or “gifts”. Instead of recognizing they’re working with a honest-to-God movie, where the possibilities are nearly limitless, Miller and Gough literally regurgitate characters, plots, subplots, scenes, and dialogue from not only their own television series, but countless other superior books and movies and shows. As for the presence of Marti Noxon, she of BUFFY fame, I can only imagine she was the voice of reason attempting to add in clever dialogue here or there with little success; or perhaps it was she that saved the movie from completely sucking.

Yes, indeed, even with my huge lack of love for I AM NUMBER FOUR, it is surprisingly not entirely the worst conceivable movie. But I won’t get into that right this second. Instead, I’m going a different route. It dawned on me today the similarities between I AM NUMBER FOUR and the movie adaptation of ERAGON, and thought I would share a few:

Both Eragon and I Am Number Four, the movies, originate from books that have the minimalist of originality in them, just enough to save themselves from being prosecuted for blatantly stealing plot, scenes, and even dialogue.

Both Eragon and I Am Number Four feature a brilliant older actor (Jeremy Irons, Timothy Olyphant) as the younger characters’ master or tutor or protector or a combination of all of ‘em.

Both Eragon and I Am Number Four have youngish lead actors, Edward Speelers and Alex Pettyfer, who have an inability to emote or display any facial expression save one stern glare.

Both Edward Speelers and Alex Pettyfer are miscast and actually end up feeling like caricatures.

Both Eragon and I Am Number Four boast directors that seem more comfortable with the special effects, big explody action scenes than any potential dramatic moment between characters.

Both Eragon and I Am Number Four lack any emotional connection from the viewer to what’s happening onscreen, instead becoming a feature length eye-rolling fest of ‘C’mon! Really, movie, really? I’ve seen and heard this a hundred times before!’

Yes, Alex PrettyFace isn’t Tom Welling, who can take the atrocious dialogue and make it work. Diana Agron, gorgeous as she may be, nonetheless plays the cliched girl who used to be popular but now spends her time looking at the beauty of the world, which must obviously attract PrettyFace.

The real goldmine of the movie is the super awesome, CGI-heavy battle in the end at your standard high school, as Number 6 blasts up some bad alien guys and Number 4 does stuff with his blue hand light thingies. Lots and lots of explosions, bat/dog hybrid creatures that are far too bloody awesome for words. It’s pretty much just a really super awesome battle, and will definitely keep your interest…as opposed to the hour and a half before it.

I know, I probably shouldn’t be raging on I AM NUMBER FOUR as much. After all, it’s not the worst thing in the entire universe. So what if the characters aren’t really characters but placeholders and ghosts of characters you’ve seen a thousand times before? So what if there is no substantial emotional connection to the heroes, the jerks, or the bad guys, who have no dimension other than ‘we destroy’? So what if the movie really is a bloated television pilot that is, more or less, a waste of our time and Hollywood’s money?

At least it ain’t as bad as TWILIGHT. Now there’s a commendation, innit?


David Bishop said...

I actually kind of enjoyed Eragon (the book. Hated the movie), but even I can recognize it's Star Wars in Dragonlandia, and Star Wars itself is a copy of many sci-fi and adventure stories.

The comparison to Smallville is apt. After I saw this movie, my thoughts were something to the effect of "If that was an episode of Smallville, I'd probably be pretty pleased, but as a movie, it really sucked."

Jack L said...

I can't stand all these formulaic prefabricated teenager films. Their mediocrity annoys me like nothing else.
I would much rather watch a crappy B-movie made on a tight budget than watch something no mind-numbingly mediocre despite it's enormous budget, one gets the sense the film makers purposefully aimed for mediocrity to appeal to the maximum amount of people.

Sorry for the rant but these films do annoy me...
I won't be watchign this film, and I hated Eragon, so badly adapted from the book.

Great review Andy!

Andy the Time Lord said...

David - I was mostly making comparisons with the ERAGON movie than the book, but even so, Paolini's book - and especially ELDEST - are not my cup of tea. Yes, STAR WARS uses the same monomyth, but it's all about execution, making something interesting and at least quasi-original out of it, but ERAGON felt far too cut & pastey with LOTR/HP.

Jack - I frankly could not have said it better myself, mate, LOL. Now you mentioning B-movies really makes me wish theaters played old flicks. How cool it would be to experience a Roger Corman produced/directed movie with stadium theater seating and delicious theater-made popcorn. Awww.