I Am Number Four [Blu-Ray] DJ Caruso

I Am Number Four [Blu-Ray] DJ Caruso
Let's look past the questionable nature of I Am Number Four's source material (look up Full Fathom Five, if you want the scummy details) and consider it just as a film. DJ Caruso (Disturbia, The Salton Sea) has delivered a slightly above-average teen fantasy/sci-fi flick, periodically boosted by a pair of strong performances from the veterans of the cast. Story-wise, I Am Number Four is a grab bag of familiar ideas smooshed together into a whole that feels vaguely cool. After a fairly tense chase through the jungle, introducing a super-powered teen and a mostly unseen beast, a humanoid alien knifes the kid, his body dusting like a Whedon vampire. At the same moment, across the world, a pretty boy is hanging at a beach party with a pack of douches and his leg bursts into blue light, branding a third symbol into his flesh. His friends flee, crying, "Freak!," the spectacle forcing him and his guardian to move and try to become invisible in a new town and school. Any minor Whedon-isms ― that's Joss, television geek-god and creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer ― aren't likely incidental, as frequent Buffy scribe Marti Noxon had a hand in the screenplay. That's not to suggest any comparable degree of depth or cleverness, but there's at least a small attempt to say something about feeling alien among the social hierarchies of high school. Settling temporarily in Paradise, Ohio, Number Four (Alex Pettyfer) goes by the name John Smith. Don't worry if the visual cues don't explain the convoluted mythology, Pettyfer gives a voiceover on the drive to Paradise, explaining that he's an alien survivor from the planet Lorien, and among his people, he's one of nine special children who gain powers called "legacies" as they mature. They are being hunted down by world destroying aliens called Mogadorians and must be killed in a specific order due to one of a zillion special mystical items or conditions that have no meaning beyond the surface. The bulk of the film takes place as John navigates the traditional trials of high school: stepping in to protect the prime geek from the alpha jock, attracting the attention of the socially ousted former cheerleader at the expense of the aforementioned jock rage. Pettyfer's apparent inability to comfortably relate emotion sort of works in his favour, or at least it's easier to understand the casting decision, though it'd be a more enjoyable film if the protagonist had presence. Being an alien doesn't hurt Timothy Olyphant's ability to be one charming and compelling son of a bitch as John's guardian Henri, even when the former Deadwood star is forced to utter inane dialogue. Likewise, Kevin Durand (Lost, 3:10 to Yuma) makes the most of his role as the Mogadorian commander, gleefully finding unexpected terror and humour in the character. He's a delight every moment he's on screen and thankfully, there's an extended version of his rant on our culture's obsession with excess and impracticality that's more pointed, threatening and hilarious than any moment in the movie. The other deleted scenes, with introductions by DJ Caruso, don't much matter, but the blooper reel is surprisingly funny, thanks entirely to the contributions of Olyphant and, especially, Durand. Much like the rest of the marketing materials, the special features are focused on Australian hottie Teresa Palmer's Number Six, who's barely in the film until the climactic action scene, but admittedly does kick ass when she shows up. She's treated to a behind-the-scenes look at her training, stunts, action choreography and some special effects composite breakdowns. I guess that's what happens when the side characters are the strongest elements of a picture. By no means a must-see, I Am Number Four is a fun and attractively shot enough diversion worth the time investment for Kevin Durand's wacky scene chewing. (Buena Vista)