Hollywood’s recent penchant for interspecies teen romance is one of modern cinema’s most worrying trends. Twilight paired human with vampire, then human with werewolf (and if you haven’t read all the books, the next one is where it gets properly batshit). Now, I Am Number Four (which is blatantly pitched at the aforementioned films’ audience) unites human with alien. It’s an area of filmmaking that’s long been catered for – normally within seedy, unspoken of circles. Rarely – as is the case with Four – by Disney.
Not that D.J. Caruso’s adaptation of Pittacus Lore’s (the pen name of authors James Frey and Jobie Hughes) young adult sci-fi novel is particularly illicit. For the large part it’s just dull. It takes an eternity to get going, when it does, it quickly becomes a confusing mush of high-octane fights and chases (perhaps predictably, Michael Bay produces). There’s some curious casting going on too; the hero, young British lead Alex Pettyfer, certainly has the face for teenage girls’ walls. Sadly, the void where his charisma should be suggests his natural home may well be the bin. Pettyfer is often so dislikable, you often wonder whether he’s supposed to be a villain. More often than not, you just wonder whether he’s still breathing.
Stylistically it’s a mess too. The film contains little, at source, that is its own. It takes the teen angst of TV’s underrated Roswell High. It borrows a scene from Jaws. It’s pseudo-rebellious stylings owe a debt to John Carpenter’s infinitely superior Starman. There’s also a scene where bald aliens feed frozen turkeys to a space monster that… no, actually, that’s all I Am Number Four‘s own. Then there’s the glum, pouting Twilight factor. What’s more unnerving than Hollywood’s new thirst for interspecies sex? Well, the constant promotion of sadness as cool to the young, for one.
I Am Number Four is the first of six proposed films. WELL, THAT’S A TOTAL SHITTER ISN’T IT.