Tuesday, February 22, 2011

‘Four’ scores, just a little

“I Am Number Four” feels like TV shows “Roswell” and “Smallville” rolled into one, mainly because of the recycled super-alien teens hiding amongst humans concept. Its screenwriters Alfred Gough and Miles Millar are the latter’s co-creators, while director DJ Caruso also did episodes of “Smallville” and “Dark Angel.” So the team already has ample experience with contributing to misfit superteen sagas.

Now, the alien designated Number Four a.k.a. John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) isn’t as distinct as Kal-El or even Max Evans, but his life is less comfortable than theirs. Transplanted on Earth, he and his assigned protector (Timothy Olyphant) hide and quietly flee from violent aliens bent on their extermination. The cycle stops in a small town in Ohio, where he befriends and bonds with an aspiring photographer, Sarah (Dianna Agron).

Again, we’ve seen the human-alien attraction angle before, over and over, in the previously mentioned shows. The movie spends more time telling than showing; we don’t really see the hunted aliens’ culture or anything, and it doesn’t even bother with explaining the science of Number Four’s abilities or the alien tech. Most of the characters are two-dimensional and disaffecting clones we’ve seen countless times before.

If anything, the fantasy flick has a few action scenes that look cool, made flashy by simple effects and decent fight choreography. Pettyfer and Agron are hotness squared, distracting enough to keep you from minding their characters’ predictability too much. The identities and powers of the other alien survivors aren’t all revealed, so the partially solved mystery keeps things a bit intriguing. That should be explored properly, and more creatively, in the sequel.

“I Am Number Four” opens Feb. 23 in Metro Manila.

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