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Movie Review: D.J. Caruso’s ‘I Am Number Four’ On Blu-Ray

“I Am Number Four” was released Feb. 18, 2011 in the U.S. and I’m reviewing it now. I know. Days late, dollars short. However, I was so disappointed with this film I felt a need to share my grief with all those who read the book, all those who enjoyed the story so much. Maybe you’ve seen the movie and were disappointed. Maybe you haven’t seen it yet. My advice, read the book and skip the film. I am thankful I didn’t waste a ton of dough seeing it in theatres.

So, I read the book last year and wrote a review, which was published Aug. 10, 2010 on www.iconvsicon.com. I summarized the book as:

In “I Am Number Four: Book One of the Lorien Legacies,” nine infant humanoid aliens and their guardians, the Loriens, travel to Earth after their planet is ravaged by the Mogadorians, a violent species. After reaching Earth, the Loriens discover that the Mogadorians are on their trail, planning to annihilate them, and eventually humans, in order to plunder Earth’s resources.

The Lorien guardians keep the children hidden and help them develop their superhuman powers, also known as Legacies (what’s an alien without superhuman powers?) so that they can one day defeat the Mogadorians and go back to their home planet. Each child is assigned a number and, because of a charm cast when leaving Lorien, the children can only be killed in order of their numbers provided that they keep away from one another.

The story is told from the first-person perspective of John Smith, also known as Number Four. Upon discovering that Number Three has been killed, John and his guardian, Henri, move to Paradise, Ohio. Although John usually keeps to himself and has no friends since he is always on the run, he soon finds himself infatuated with a fellow student for the first time (Sarah, the cliché former cheerleader and former girlfriend of the football star). John also makes his first friend (Sam, the cliché nerd who wears NASA T-shirts daily).

I understand some changes will be made to this story in order to mold it into a film. Some things from the book, pieces to the ultimate puzzle, might not translate onscreen and with only so much running time (109 minutes), some things may be left out. You want a good return at the box office, especially with all the special affects “I Am Number Four” producer Michael Bay is known for. OK. I get it.

But, really? Really? So many important parts of the book were left out, so many! A story, whether it’s told by way of movie, TV show or book, has glue binding key chunks of the plot together. The glue gives context to the chunks of the story.

The problem with the movie version of “I Am Number Four” is, to save time, they took out a lot of the glue. There was no context for why the aliens were on Earth, they glossed over the part about their planet being destroyed by Mogadorians, who were hungry for natural resources, which some may say is a metaphor for what may happen to Earth if we keep eating up oil, polluting, etc. like it’s going out of style. They decided to gloss over it because, to them, it wasn’t important.

There was a pivotal part of the story where John (played by Alex Pettyfer in the film) is developing his powers, which they glossed over to almost not including at all. Yeah, he’s in school and finds out the hard way he has supernatural powers but that was all the movie decided was important. In the book, he works with Henri (played by Timothy Olyphant, my super secret crush since the days of “Go”) to become stronger and learn to harness his powers. It’s a difficult process. His powers, in the book, are confusing and hard to control because they evolve. He’s coming of age, as an alien. It takes time for him to become powerful enough to even fathom taking on the Mogadorians. During this development in the book, John is able to open the mysterious box Henri has kept under wraps. Although part of the film on the small scale, John’s opening of the box is not included. The box is essentially a legacy that was left to him by his parents and grandparents, a history of his people, his family and his race. It also included an explanation of the history between the Loriens and Mogadorians and why his planet died and his people had to leave. I guess they decided this wasn’t important and, to save time, they could just insert bits and pieces along the way.

Alex Pettyfer … I believe you are of age so I, as an older woman, am allowed to say this. You are gorgeous. An absolutely gorgeous hunk, which, as a former model, makes sense. Good for you. Way to go. However, in the role of John, you are not suitable. John wasn’t supposed to be some beefcake. You are a physical heartthrob and it makes no sense for you to be a loner at your previous school — which also wasn’t good enough for the people behind the film, instead, making him to be Mr. Popular with the hottie-in-a-bikini ready to go the distance. When the captain of the football team, Mark (played by Skinny McGee Jake Abel), (who happens to be the former boyfriend of John’s love interest, Sarah [played by Dianna Agron of “Glee” fame who was perfectly cast] who hasn’t gotten over their breakup yet) taunts John and gets in his face, it is comical. Pettyfer is simply too beefy and it’s ridiculous to think he couldn’t beat the crap out of his taunters, especially Mark. When he starts becoming powerful, harnessing his powers, it should be shocking but it’s not since he’s already ripped!

Also, the end of the book is rushed, Mark isn’t a part of the action but yet, at the end, there he is shaking hands with John, all buddy-buddy. And what about Pittacus Lore? He was mentioned at the end for, what, a second? His significant role in the book series was reduced to a mere second in the film.

I’m going to stop while I’m behind because, obviously, I could go on and on and on to ad nauseum. I’m going to do what I did halfway through the film and come to terms with the fact this isn’t like the book and will more than likely continue on its trail of not being like the book. More things will be glossed over or completely absent, so I should deal with that or turn it off.

So, I took what enjoyment I could from the typical Michael Bay film, i.e. sexy women (Dianna Agron and dark hottie Teresa Palmer), explosions, fighting and all out Bay-hem!

I’m ranting, which equals anger, so, I will end my rant with the one item angering me most. This book fell in my lap as a review from HarperTeen. As in, please review this book most likely unknown to you. I read it and loved it! It was exciting and fun, feeding my interests in science fiction and romance. Bravo HarperTeen and authors James Frey and Jobie Hughes.

I would hate for someone to watch the film first before reading the book. Please, the book is awesome and it’s the first in a serious of six books! Don’t believe the hype! Don’t let the movie turn you off to the Lorien Legacies. I would hate for someone to watch the movie first and hate it. Or, even if they loved it, it’s simply not true enough to the book. In the movie credits I would have preferred “loosely based” on the novel, emphasis on the loose! — Kate Vendetta