‘I Am Number Four’ familiar plot, different hero

“I Am Number Four” is a movie that has played in theaters time and time again. A teenage protagonist struggles with high school life, either gains or discovers abilities that set them apart from their peers even further, the teenage protagonist struggles with their powers and then ultimately must use those powers to stop some sort of villain.

However, in some cases like this, the over-used plot line serves as the backbone for a decent movie.

John Smith (Alex Pettyfer “Tormented”) is a teenage fugitive on the run with his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant “The Crazies”). They change their identities each time they run. When John and Henri settle in a small town in Ohio, John falls in love with Sarah, (Dianna Agron “The Hunters”) and discovers that he possesses powers.

Other than the identity changing and constant running, the movie plots plays out a little reminiscent of the first “Spider-Man” movie with Tobey Maguire back in 2002.

What “I Am Number Four” has that “Spider-Man” doesn’t however, is an engaging and captivating main protagonist. No offense to the Peter Parker character, but he isn’t much to look at (not that Maguire is ugly, but Peter Parker has always been a nerdy looking character), he’s whiny and even as Spider-Man looks less than heroic. The John Smith character, as portrayed by Pettyfer, is charming, visually attractive and his voice doesn’t make viewers cringe.

Pettyfer’s acting is pretty believable too. It’s good to know that he can accurately portray a conflicted teenager, since he’ll be playing another one in “Beastly,” a modern high school take on “Beauty and the Beast” that comes to theaters on March 4.

In addition to Pettyfer’s acting, another thing to be commended about this movie are the special effects. In a sci-fi movie of any kind, effects play a large part in immersing the audience in the world of the movie. They are meant to not only make the movie look more exciting, but also to make anything unreal look more like it belongs. That being said, the effects in “I Am Number Four” are fantastic; any movie that can make bright blue glowing hands look natural and cool rather than cheesy is doing its job right.

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On the negative side, “I Am Number Four” is painfully predictable. The formulaic base plot aside, even the little things are easy for the audience to foresee. There are no real surprises to keep us wondering until the very end, when someone thought to be dead is seen alive and with an attitude switch. The movie is left wide open for a sequel.

In all, while “I Am Number Four” is visually entertaining and the acting up to par, it doesn’t offer viewers anything new to chew on or mull over.  Don’t be afraid to see it in theaters, but know better than to expect something new and original when you buy those expensive tickets.

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