I Am Number Four lacks character

The teenage sci-fi flick misses the mark with its alien-human relationships.

The cash-potential of a gender-neutral Twilight at least explains the incentive to make I Am Number Four. It will help if its audience of boys and girls doesn’t ask questions. John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) has the kind of history that should make him more interesting than the name he’s given. An alien from planet Lorien, John’s species is hunted by the Mogodorians. Three of his kind have been killed. He knows he’s going to be number four. I’m not sure how he knows he isn’t number five, but the title and John’s voiceover narration sound pretty certain. He tries to be inconspicuous at his high school by wearing a hoodie. He protects the school nerd Sam (established by crude graffiti of Saturn on his locker) from bullies with his extra-human strength. John’s so stone-faced, he’s barely an outsider symbol, and he’s even less of a character. The only reason to tell this story (beyond Twilight dollars) is the social experiment of swapping John’s alien struggle with the common struggle of teenage life. But John never appears surprised, or really interested, in the world around him. His friendships with outcast Sam (Callan McAuliffe) and love interest Sarah (Dianna Agron) miss the connective fascination of the human-alien bonds inE.T. and Starman. In turning from his previous Hitchcock updates (Disturbia, Eagle Eye), director D.J. Caruso finds neither warmth or purpose in this blonde oppression fantasy. It’s all just set-up for the climactic action scenes, which hit after the will for excitement has drained.

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