Buff Review Show is Definitely A Four, Not a Five, Except On Fridays
One of my colleagues at work has been talking about this film non-stop since it came out. So as the DVD is out on Monday, here is my review for ‘I Am Number Four’, a supernatural “thriller” for the Twilight generation…
I Am Number Four
‘I Am Number Four’ is a strange title on the whole. Considering it is likely there will be sequels to this one, the mind boggles as to what they will call the next one and how they will number or otherwise label it. Both ‘I Am Number Four 2’ and ‘I Am Number Four The Second’ sound strange, and even after watching the film it really seems impossible to work out where they want to go next with the naming and numbering malarkey.
Anyway, mathematical ramblings aside, the ‘Four’ in the title relates to the fourth alien, of nine, sent from a planet far away to Earth when the alien’s home-planet was destroyed many years ago. These nine gifted children, plus their warrior-bodyguards who are lessgifted, are scattered across the globe because… well we’re not really certain why. We know they had to flee their former planet, but what makes Earth so special? The weather is frequently terrible, nobody gets along, and everyone still seems oblivious to the presence of alien life-forms in the universe. However, the voyage to Earth is made and “The Nine” are sent into hiding, until the day they can… do something or other. Again the film really isn’t clear on this matter.
The film kicks off with the demise of number three, whom is attacked by a creature which can only be described as a cross between a grizzly bear and a flying squirrel on steroids. When the great beast isn’t mauling aliens it’s probably an entirely adorable space monster. Number Four, whom is enjoying a swim on the beaches of California, starts glowing and gets a burning sensation on his leg. We see a new scar appear in the shape of the talisman that belonged to Number Three, joining the scars from Numbers One and Two. This unfortunate occurrence forces him and his guardian to move from their beach-bum lifestyle to somewhere soggy and grey looking.
So after a particularly dodgy looking dye job that I cannot stop staring at for the entire film, Number Four and his warrior counterpart, masking as father and son, disappear and head for a new location to start a new life again. The usual rules of “stay hidden and remain inconspicuous” are meant to apply here, but are soon abandoned when he is wooed by the swooning maiden of the film.
The whole film is a little predictably structured: accompanying Number Four on his ventures are the gorgeous girl, the geeky sidekick whose Dad was somehow involved with the aliens and mysteriously disappeared a few years previously, the school jock who ticks every box on the “How To Be A School Jock For Dummies” checklist, and the femme fatale whose accent I cannot fathom out- she is either doing an irritating impression of an Australian accent throughout her time on screen, or she is just Australian.
I briefly mentioned the baddies earlier, and they really should deserve just a brief mention. They have this weird gruff, yet high pitched, voice, like if Joe Pasquale did the voices for the demons in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not to mention they look like roadies fresh off of the latest Marilyn Manson tour, right down to the big black boots, the weird fetish for facial tattoos and body mutations, and some rather fabulous black leather jackets which would make even the cast of The Matrix blush. None of them are ever particularly menacing, more bumbling at time when they repeatedly fail to capture the kids.
What this film lacks is a “head-baddie”, whom I presume they are saving for the aforementioned likely sequel ‘I am Number Four: 2 :Who is Number 5?’ And with this lack of a main baddie, we just have the goth-brigade and their pet flying bear beasts.
The special effects are well done, but it surprises me that they haven’t either made the film in 3D, or tacked it on in post-production, because this seems to be one of those rare occasions where the 3D would have worked quite well. All those flashing light pulses and laser beam weapons, not to mention the final set piece of the film, would have looked phenomenal in 3D, but alas, film producers will get it right one day.
‘I Am Number Phwoooaar’ is a little underwhelming and “tweeny” for my liking. It adopts the Twilight approach to things, although fortunately isn’t nearly as angsty as that series, all the better for it mind you. It has a somewhat more comic tone, which works much better. It’s far too polished and pristine and put-together, as if it came out a flatpack from Ikea and it is mostly there, but is missing a few nuts and bolts.
Nuts and bolts in this case referring to the missing bad guy, and a sense of purpose for why they are all here. We know that the baddies are here to kill the numbered aliens, but there is no real reason ever mentioned why, that I can remember, other than the fact that they don’t like them. They are mindless goons doing the bidding of some higher power, and in any other film the higher power would let the goons take centre stage for 75% of the film. Then, after a half dozen bumbling attempts at doing their job, the “big boss” will step up to the plate and try and do it himself. And if the “big boss” doesn’t make an appearance in I Am Number -insert-roman-numerals-here I will be highly suspicious of this franchise.
The whole thing comes across as an old Scooby Doo episode when the gang are attacked by measly, bumbling idiots for the first ten minutes, and then they all just go off for malt shakes and sandwich eating contests for the rest of the show.
‘I Am Number 5-6-7-8- My Rootin’-Scootin’ Baby is Driving me Ker-razy…’ just feels like part of something bigger, as oppose to being able to stand as a film on its own. I just hope that it does well enough at the Box Office, and doesn’t go the way of the Alex Rider or Eragon films, because I genuinely would like to see what happens next as it is an interesting premise, if just handled a little bit lazily. I just don’t think it is something I would ever consider to be a real DVD purchase, but I’ll await a sequel for some time in 2013.