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I Am Number Four (2011) Print E-mail
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
Image"I Am Number Four" is D.J. Caruso's latest sci-fi/action/suspense/thriller.  With Caruso's career his products have been hit or miss.  "Disturbia" was a pleasant surprise.  Though the plot was fairly predictable, especially given that it was based on Hitchcock's "Rear Window."  Then "Taking Lives" fell flat.  "Eagle Eye" was more of a mixed bag, remarked as brilliant by some and horrible by others.

"I Am Number Four" lands more in league with "Eagle Eye."  Teenagers will likely find the film to be exciting.  However, the film does fall prey to incredibly slow first and second acts.  Every time it seems as if the action is going to break out on screen the reigns are pulled in and the scene falls flat on its face.  This continues until the climatic battle in the final 20 minutes or so, when it appears that producer Michael Bay stepped in and insisted on a full out battle, with all the bells whistles.

The film follows a fairly typical sci-fi action plot.  An extraterrestrial was sent to Earth as a child along with a protector.  The child, along with a few others are the soul survivors of a destroyed planet.  Kind-of Superman-ish.  A group of destroyers from the home planet followed the survivors to Earth, hell bent on killing each and every one, in order.  One, Two and Three have all been killed.  Thus we are introduced to Number Four, known only as John Smith (Alex Pettyfer).  When his third scar appears he draws attention to himself, forcing his move from a Hawaiian paradise to Paradise, Ohio.

In this small town, John still refuses to stay low and invisible, almost begging for the assassins to come and get him.  The town follows a typical setup.  There is the jock group of the high school who has it in for the new guy.  There is the girl that the lead jock is hung up on that finds romance with John.  John refuses to keep moving because of the girl that he met just days before.  So on and so forth.  It is predictable who will die and who will live.

So, is there any suspense?  Well there are a few mysteries, but many are simple and others are left unexplained even at the end of the film.  You should know going into this film that if you don't like unanswered questions at the end of a film then this isn't going to be the movie for you.  It is like a back-story story, setting us up for the real film, which has yet to come.  Given the moderate success of this film there certainly isn't going to be a part two to this film.  Well, may a made-for-TV film someday. "I Am Number Four" needed to accept the type of film that it was designed to be, a sci-fi action film.  There are nine, well now six beings from the foreign planet, yet this is the story of just one.  That is fine.  However, the film would have had a bigger payoff if there was a journey to find the remaining five people of his kind, bring them together and then defeat the too many to count different kinds of bad guys.  Instead we only get a glimpse with the random appearances of Number Six (Teresa Palmer), who by the way has much cooler superpowers than the primary hero of the film.  Number six has the power of the Nightcrawler's dissaparating, Spider-man's senses and any number of superheroes' forcefield protection power.

Ultimately, the film simply bounces along without much draw for the audience.  The writers have taken the characters and plots in all the wrong directions.  "I Am Number Four" falls victim to backing itself into a corner.  For example, John Smith shows up at a house party, walking through the entire house so that everyone can see him, keep in mind he is a wanted criminal, and then has the nerve to act surprised when the cops show up for him.  But somehow the writers had to get John and his girlfriend, Sarah (Dianna Agron) reunited so she could tag along as Number Four and Number Six take on a slew of bad guys.

"I Am Number Four" does have its moments.  For those that can stay tuned during the slow moments will find some fond relationship moments.  The climatic battle does have some impressive visual effects thanks to the designers at Industrial Light & Magic.  John's dog is as cute as could be, until he turns into a monstrous beast.  You'll understand when you see the film.

The cast is another problem for "I Am Number Four."  It hurt the film for it to not have a big star as the lead role.  If the script had been stronger then it would not have mattered.  Also, the film needed a bigger female star.  While Teresa Palmer does make a great southern Number Six with a great accent, she appears all too briefly in the film.  Dianna Agron does a decent job but she just doesn't have the pull to keep the audience tuned in.  Timothy Olyphant portrays John's guardian and plays it about the only way that he could.  Jake Abel appears as the high school jock that still pines for Sarah.  His character lacks transformation motives and simply jumps all over the place.

"I Am Number Four" comes to Blu-ray with a solid 1080p, AVC video transfer with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  In the end the video quality is not going to dazzle videophiles, but it will certainly please fans of the film.  The largest problem with the video quality is what haunts most films, the nighttime sequences.  Dark sequences result in crush and poor shadow delineation.  Much of this can be attributed to the cinematography and the lighting.  However, when shots linger almost pure darkness the problems only haunt the image more.  Aside from that the details in the nicely lit shots are exquisite.  Textures of the landscape and the characters' costumes are nicely rendered.  Edge definition is some of the best that I have seen in a while.  The image is pleasantly absent of noise reduction and compression artifacts.  Slight banding does pop up here and there, but it is never intrusive.  Colors are decent.  They are not saturated so that they pop from the screen and they never bleed.  Contrast and brightness in the fully lit sequences are accurately balanced.

In all honesty, I was expecting a lot more from the audio quality of this transfer.  Most of the issues I have with the audio track falls with the original sound design.  However, I think the line in critiquing audio quality between the original audio and the disc's transfer has become somewhat blurred.  The dialogue is nicely prioritized.  It lacks some weight, but it is never unintelligible.  However, a few lines by Teresa Palmer do fall by the wayside.  However, if you think for a moment you can discern what was said.  The music is rather lackluster.  You can get through the entirety of the film and then try to think of whether or not there was even music in the film.  Trevor Rabin's score just doesn't have any standout moments.  The LFE channel does its job when called upon.  It is not as consistent as with the recent Harry Potter or "Tron: Legacy," however it does fill out the action sequences.  The rear channels are my biggest disappointment.  The envelopment is good, but directionality is quite poor.  Discrete sound effects in the rear channels blur together, leaving the surrounds a mess.  Panning between the front and rear soundfield is spotty, falling prey to spectral splitting on several occasions.  For most listeners the surround sound is going to be just fine, but for those that really begin to listen well certainly find the surround channels to be lackluster.  Ambience is decent but could have used a bit more level.  Dynamics are a bit reserved for a film dealing with romance and action.  Given this is a 24-bit track this likely lies with the original sound mix.  The audio track with suit many listeners just fine, but it won't jump to the top of many lists.

Despite its three-disc packaging, "I Am Number Four" offers little in the way special features.  There are six deleted segments, each is introduced by Caruso.  "Becoming Number Six" is a guided tour through the stunts and special effects by Teresa Palmer.  Lastly, there is a blooper reel and a few trailers.  The package also contains a DVD Copy and a Digital Copy.

"I Am Number Four" was a bit disappointing overall.  It certainly had potential, but fell short on all accounts.  The video and audio qualities will suit most fans, but lack the ultimate in high definition.  I would suggest probably a rent.

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