Wednesday, 15 June 2011

“You have no idea what I’m capable of”

I Am Number Four directed by DJ Caruson; written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
       
I Am Number Four approaches the story of its protagonist’s (an extra-terrestrial warrior of some sort) on-going attempts to avoid assassins from his home planet with such a great amount of seriousness that the film eventually seems to be so sombre in tone that you begin to wonder why a film about a teenage would-be superhero feels so gloomy. And, that’s just only of the anomalous things about I Am Number Four.


A fine example of the unnecessary bleakness occurs when in school John Smith (a pseudonym) becomes increasingly agitated and learns that in addition being on the run he also harnesses supernatural capabilities. There’s little urgency in the revelation so that the quest of John to keep his powers hidden seems especially lacking in urgency even amidst all the gloominess that commands the film. Earlier in the week I was referring to the general cheerlessness of Rango and it’s the same with I Am Number Four, but worse. You could, perhaps, explain away the faux-sombre attitude of Rango as evidence of its interest in spoofing the spaghetti westerns of yore, but I Am Number Four – a story about its teenage hero’s fish-out-of-water experiences develop in an attitude that’s completely devoid of charm, humour or earnestness. And it doesn’t help that the entire thing is buoyed (or bogged down, I suppose) by a string of tire genre clichés.

The extended metaphor of Dianna Agron’s Sarah (our hero’s love-interest) and her “all-seeing” camera is terribly awkward to watch especially when you get the sense that they’re trying hit home that “I see you” concept popularised in Avatar. Although she and Pettyfer, with their matching blonde locks, seem comfortable in each other’s presence the “romance” feels exceptionally forced. As does the unnecessary aggression Jake Abel puts into his arrogant jock (which becomes hilarious considering the sudden change of heart, which ensues as the film nears its end). Teresa Palmer’s fellow alien follows the same route of unnecessary bravura making her more annoying than cool and Callan  McAullife plays his doormat role so well his presence becomes difficult to discern. Of course, Olyphant is his usual dependable self as John’s mentor. Although, I do wonder if a sequel does surface how it will develop without him. Then, there’s Pettyfer…
It’s during one of the action sequences near the film’s end that it strikes me as to how difficult it is for young actors breaking into the business. Take Pettyfer, for example. In a matter of months he’s starred in the abysmal Beastly, and the not quite as abysmal I Am Number Four. It’s easy to imagine him doing these two for the pay check with hopes of proving his “talent” afterwards. He has a strong enough screen presence that I wish that the film had a stronger interest in being more than just passable. Maybe I’ve overreacting and Pettyfer has no legitimate interest in pushing himself, but there are enough spurts of goodness in the film to make me think otherwise.
The film is mounted credibly, I suppose. The visual effects are as interesting as they need to be and really the story, though hardly revelatory, has enough scope to be at least entertaining – which I can’t say for this instalment. Maybe next time? Not that I want a sequel, though. I’d like Pettyfer to be free of it so that maybe he can realise whether or not he’s got a great performance somewhere hidden.

D+

3 comments:

TomS said...

Sounds like you would have re-named it "I Am Number Two"....

5plitreel said...

Didn't this guy (Pettiferfyrfarfir) basically get banned from ever appearing in a movie again for being a total creep? Maybe that shines through too much. And to imagine I was once excited to see this!

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

tom ha. very slick.

5piltreel really? i'm ashamedly oblivious to almost everything that goes in. he seems generally okay to me.