Blu-ray Review: ‘I Am Number Four’

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I Am Number Four
QUICK THOUGHTS:

I Am Number Four follows a very human-looking alien played by Alex Pettyfer as he travels around Earth and adopts names like “John Smith” in an attempt to stay under the radar of another race of aliens that strangely look an awful lot like Pettyfer’s character from Beastly. Being a teen movie, things get a bit more complicated when John falls for a cute girl (Dianna Agron of “Glee”) in the latest small town where he and his guardian (Timothy Olyphant of The Crazies and TV’s “Justified”) set up shop. Sure it sounds preposterous and, quite frankly, generic, but the movie is actually quite fun.

A fan of the film will likely be pleased with how this Blu-ray looks and sounds. The special effects are rather impressive given the film’s modest $60 million budget, particularly after Number 6 (Teresa Palmer) and a couple of fearsome CGI creatures come around for the finale. The score is interesting enough, but the real fun, audio-wise, is with a soundtrack that that swiftly moves from Kings of Leon to The Black Keys to Adele. The alternative/indie selections are far from the only page borrowed from the Twilight handbook as the film does little to deviate from the familiar formula of brooding voiceover narration and love triangles amongst impossibly good-looking high schoolers.

Yet, Number Four seems refreshingly self-aware and even has some fun with the genre’s conventions. “Gotta love the classics — homecoming king vs. the science nerd — just get better with time, don’t they?” jokes the film’s requisite geeky best friend character Sam (Flipped‘s Callan McAuliffe), just before getting plunked in the head with a football. The acting across the board is far more credible than what you’d see in a Twilight movie. Not being a “Glee” follower, I was most pleasantly surprised at the charms of Dianna Agron. Her character is just the latest in a long line of artsy loners who are far too attractive to ever attain such an “outsider” status in a real high school, but Agron plays the part with far more conviction than most.

SUPPLEMENTS:

Among the bonus material is “Becoming Number 6,” a 12 minute featurette that goes behind the scenes of some of the climactic action sequences and works to hype the character for the sequel we’ll likely never see.

The six deleted scenes each feature an introduction from director D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye) explaining why each scene was eventually taken out of the movie. This offers a nice insight into the filmmaking process and is something I wish a lot more directors would do.

Lastly, there’s a three minute blooper reel comprised mostly of actors messing up and a dog doing, well, cute doggie things. And as usual, you also get a DVD copy of the film and a digital copy disc (aka “coasters,” as they’re more commonly referred to in my home), though a single-disc Blu-ray is also available if you want to save a few bucks.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I Am Number Four was clearly positioned as a franchise starter and sets up nicely for a sequel. For my own selfish reasons (the film intrigued me enough to want to stick around for a sequel, but I’m afraid the $144 million worldwide gross alone won’t offer DreamWorks enough encouragement), I’d love to say this set is worth buying. The lack of special features probably makes it better suited for a rental though.

Caruso often seems rushed into covering a lot of ground over the course of 100 minutes with so much of Number Four’s ability and mythology still left to be explored. I’m sure this universe features a number of interesting characters who could have been introduced and developed sporadically, making the material better suited for a television serial. A full 12-episode season (or several of them) could have also given these relationships and conflicts more breathing room. It seems like a natural fit for The CW, but I’m sure NBC could just have easily plotted it into the old “Heroes” time slot. As it stands, I Am Number Four will make for a fun lazy Sunday watch when it starts playing on cable in a year or so anyway.