Residing on Earth after the destruction of their own planet, Lorien, nine young aliens are in danger as they are picked off one by one and in numerical order by the Mogadorians. After Number Three is killed, Number Four and his guardian, Henri, must leave their current home and settle elsewhere. Ignoring Henri’s advice to stay anonymous, Number Four (now known as ‘John Smith’) enrolls himself at the local high school where he meets Sarah and Sam as well as a few bullies. John suddenly develops powers which he finds difficult to control and keeping a low profile becomes more and more difficult as the Mogadorians close in on his whereabouts.

I Am Number Four (2011) – Director: D. J. Caruso

Is I Am Number Four appropriate for kids

Rating: 12

Running Length: 109 mins

Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, Action

 

REVIEW

Loosely based on the novel of the same name by Pittacus Lore, ‘I Am Number Four’ follows a young man on the run from those who wish to harm him. Being a movie aimed at teens, this could quite easily have been another ‘Twilight’ wannabe but instead manages to retain its own identity and is a surprisingly well-made movie. John could have been an angst ridden teen full of hate for his surroundings and an inability to change them, however other than a few rebellious tendencies, he has a sensible head on his shoulders and deals with his problems like an adult. ‘I Am Number Four’ therefore is not necessarily a ‘teen’ film as it is also accessible to adults who enjoy an action based movie.

While it sometimes takes itself a little seriously and the characters are somewhat stereotypical (the nice teen, the nerdy teen, the quirky loner girl and the football star bully), ‘I Am Number Four’ ticks all the boxes for an enjoyable story-led film. The movie takes a little while to get going and those expecting all-out action could be disappointed, especially as the Mogadorian antagonists are not properly introduced until around half way through. There is also a feeling that a large amount of the source material is sorely missing from the story as several interesting concepts are introduced but never properly explained, e.g. why do the Lorien’s have to be killed in sequence? There are a number of criticisms which can be levelled at ‘I Am Number Four’, however on the whole it is a perfectly watchable and well acted movie which can be enjoyed by a family wanting a bit of excitement in their entertainment.

IS ‘I AM NUMBER FOUR’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

The opening is set deep in a jungle where Number Three and his guardian are sleeping in a cabin. A noise outside wakes them up and the guardian walks towards the door and looks outside. As he doesn’t see anything he relaxes and turns around but is then grabbed by tendrils which pull him backwards. Number Three then runs for his life but is soon caught. A very intimidating man grabs him by the throat and lifts him up. Number Three lurches as he is stabbed and when he dies, his body turns to dust. Later, when Number Four is swimming at night with a girl, he is dragged under the water and sees images of the killing and when stabbing Number 3, the killer says ‘I want you to feel this’. The killer then looks at Four saying, ‘This is what’s coming for you’.

The bullies at the school particularly dislike Sam and he is the subject of their abuse. They push him into lockers, hit him with a football and load his locker with paint so that it sprays out when he opens it. This last prank is especially hurtful as it covers a photo that Sam has of his father who has gone missing. He is clearly upset by this and lashes out at the bullies. Shortly after he is seen to wash the paint off the photo with water and it does not seem too badly damaged.

When at a night-time fair, Sarah and John go on a haunted trailer ride. They pass realistic looking heads on spikes which have fake blood all over them and their eyes are rolled back. There is also a dummy on an electric chair and as they pass it, the sparks shoot out and the dummy lurches with the electric shocks. When going through a tunnel, men in costumes chase them with chainsaws although this is all part of the fun and other than a few squeals, neither character is at all distressed by what they see. However, they are soon attacked by men wearing hoods and masks. John fights off most of them but one takes Sarah away so that another character can talk to her. Once he has fought off the others, John quickly catches up to Sarah and ensures that she is safe.

The Mogadorians are very intimidating; they are very tall, wear long black coats, have black eyes, gilled noses and sharp, jagged teeth. They kidnap Henri and when John and Sam go to save him, the Mogadorians attack them. These aliens are very strong and hard to kill. Once this fight is over, the Mogadorians surround two men who have helped them; after a brief exchange, the leader holds a small whirring machine and puts it into one of the men’s mouths. He struggles against them and cries out in fear as they approach him. Shortly afterwards, a body bag is being wheeled out of the house and a nearby reporter is heard to say ‘the mutilated bodies of two paranormal website operators were just found’. The Mogadorians are seen to attack and threaten other characters during the film, however we feel that this is the strongest that the violence gets.

The Mogadorians also have two large beasts that are hinted at throughout the movie but only seen properly towards the end. There is a particularly intense scene with one of these monsters when it attacks John at the school and he struggles to defeat it.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

I Am Number Four’ has its flaws but on the whole is a good movie. Although its target audience is teenagers, it is a perfectly good film for adults to enjoy as well. We feel that due to the violence and frightening scenes, this movie should be appropriate for kids aged 9 and over.

  • Violence: 3/5 (most of the violence is quite tame however there are a couple of moments which could be distressing for younger viewers. Towards the end of the movie, John runs into the school and passes a man who is cleaning the floors with a machine. A little while later John looks out into the corridor, the man is gone but the machine is still moving and there is a pool of blood on the floor)
  • Emotional Distress: 3/5 (a major character is killed and those who care about them mourn for them. An animal that belongs to John is badly injured towards the end. They whimper, limp and then lie down however they are later seen to be alive and ok although the injuries are still apparent)
  • Fear Factor: 4/5 (the Mogadorian’s are extremely menacing and relentlessly pursue John throughout the movie)
  • Sexual Content: 2/5 (some teenage boys are seen to admire a teenage girl who is wearing a bikini)
  • Bad Language: 3/5 (several uses of mild to moderate cursing and blasphemy)
  • Dialogue: 1/5
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of realising your destiny, protecting the people you care about and fighting against evil.

Words by Laura Record

I Am Number Four [Blu-ray]


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