John (Alex Pettyfer) just wants to be a normal teenager, especially when he strikes up a romance with Sarah (Dianna Agron of “Glee,” Pettyfer’s real-life girlfriend) in Paradise, Ohio. The problem is that John’s one of a dwindling number of special survivors from a distant planet, so his surrogate father (Timothy Olyphant) is constantly moving him around to evade the Mogadorians—ugly, humanish dudes with head tattoos and bad teeth that look like rejects from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
The buzz: Director D.J. Caruso’s (“Disturbia”) adaptation of the popular teen sci-fi novel can’t be worse than M. Night Shyamalan’s recent attempt to turn a youth-oriented fave into a movie franchise, “The Last Airbender.” This, of course, doesn’t mean “I Am Number Four” will yield the sequels it clearly craves, since the books aren’t even written yet.
The verdict: “E.T.” has nothing to worry about. Part cheesy love story and part murky science fiction fable, “I Am Number Four” does a fine job of introducing its mythology, especially considering the muddy incomprehensibility of the action sequences and the blandness of the acting (the exception being Olyphant, who never disappoints). The film struggles to introduce another possibly extraterrestrial badass played by Teresa Palmer and gets nothing out of the ordinary from John’s eagerness to help geeky Sam (Callan McAuliffe), who’s sure his dad was abducted by a UFO. The most memorable thing about “I Am Number Four” is the way giant alien beasts turn to stone and explode when they die, which conveniently eliminates any need for nasty post-battle clean-up.
Did you know? Sarah’s dad says the worst advice he ever received was, “Pull this.” If that was really the worst advice he ever heard, he may have pulled something other than a finger.