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Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011 12:31 am

Number Four is familiar fun

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Alex Pettyfer stars as Number Four in I am Number Four.

There’s as much marketing involved in the making of movies today as there is art, often more. This is the case with I Am Number Four, which sports a story that’s a second cousin to Twilight with a heaping helping of the Superman myth thrown in for good measure. Pitched directly at the teen set, the film makes sure to hit all of the familiar plot points this demographic responds to – a protagonist who’s an outsider as well as good looking, a forbidden love story and lots and lots of action. That this predictable production had me engaged throughout is a testament to the talent of its cast and the sharp direction from D.J. Caruso.

John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) and his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant) never get too comfortable living in one place as they’re not of this earth. Exiled from their own planet, they must remain in hiding from the Mongadorains, a malevolent race of beings who are intent on wiping out the last nine of the Loriens. Having killed three of them already, John is next on their list and the Mongadorians are none too subtle about their intentions. John and Henri leave New Mexico and wind up in Paradise, Ohio. Despite his guardian’s warning not to get involved with the locals, John enrolls in school, falls for local beauty Sarah (Dianna Agron) and gets on the wrong side of a group of bullies.

Of course, that’s the least of John’s troubles when the aliens come to town and all hell breaks loose. The action sequences are shot in the usual hard-to-follow manner with passable special effects. There’s a nice little twist involving John’s lovable beagle and a healthy dose of black humor to give it all a bit of edge. But the main attraction is Pettyfer, who has a natural charisma that makes it hard to take your eyes off him. He’s not just a piece of eye-candy – he gives his cookic-cutter character depth. Pettyfer is a star in the making and with this film’s inevitable sequel he’ll have a chance to prove it.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.