Thursday, July 28, 2011

"I Am Number Four" - Snark Review

Welcome to the first ever Snark Review, where instead of trying to by critical and offer and informed and civil opinion on things, I mock the thing I'm reviewing like it's nobody's business! Hope you enjoy!

Originally written on Friday, June 24, 2011

So I just watched I Am Number Four and I'd like to share my thoughts on it.

I went into this movie expecting it to be a mediocre action flic with some decent special effects and average acting and storytelling. Lo and behold, I got what I expected. Number Four is obviously a film set up to start a franchise, since it's essentially an origin story for the main character, the aptly titled Number Four (that's who he is). It's an interesting premise, if not a particularly original one. The Number Four and the 8 other "Numbers" are essentially last remaining survivors from the planet Lorien, which was taken over and destroyed by the Mogadorians (Yes, it's a stupid name.). The 9 children were taken to earth as infants to eventually become the protectors of earth, each with a sworn warrior protector to raise them.

The movie starts out with the Mogadorians or Mogs as they're referred to for the most part, kill Number Three, because they apparently need to got in a certain order because...the film makers thought the title sounded cool? There's never a mention in the film of why exactly the kids are numbered or why the Mogs insist on hunting them in said order, so I don't know. Anyway, we're then introduced to Number Four, who goes through the movie under the moniker "John Smith" because when you're looking to go undetected, it's best to get an alias that immediately sounds fake. As we meet John, his leg starts lighting up like a christmas tree, and when it's over he's got a new burn mark, symbolizing that Number Three is dead. He and his protector, Henri, take this as a sign to get right the hell out of there.

The pair end up moving to Paradise, Ohio where they're followed by a terrible CGI lizard that turns into a terrible CGI dog that comes to live with them. Because why not. After a brief argument, John makes the decision that he's going to go to school like a normal kid, because he's just such a dedicated student that he won't let something like an intergalactic man-hunt stop him from learning Calculus! No, that's just his shtick for the first half of the movie; He wants to be normal, and have a normal life, because he's just so sick of not being normal. At school he meets the inevitable love interest Sarah, a sweet girl who constantly looks like she's on the verge of tears even when she's happy and seems to have learned all her acting from Kristen Stewart. She likes to take pictures and wants to get out of her small town life and...that's about it. That's all she ever talks about. Ever. John also meets her Ex-boyfriend Mark who will be doing what every ex-boyfriend in every movie ever does; Act like an asshole to the main character and get his ass kicked. John's eventual side-kick, Sam, is also brought in to bring in probably the most interesting backstory of any of the non-aliens.

You see, Sam's father was a conspiracy theorist who spent his offtime dragging his son into the mexican wilderness in an attempt to find aliens. After going out on an expedition on his own, Sam's dad disappeared. Sam eventually grew to become ashamed of his father's history and wrote the man off as a nutjob. It's eventually revealed that Sam's dad was meant to bring the 9 together for some reason they were going to explain in the sequel. This is important because it gives Sam a stake in the whole Alien mess. The same cannot be said for Sarah, who spends the majority of the movie in woeful ignorance of everything, and only manages to scream and run around once she's let in the loop.

Anyway, this is where the movie grinds to a halt for a while. It stops being about the Mogs or Lorien or any of that interesting stuff, and instead we're presented with Smallville: The Motion Picture. Seriously, that's what it is. John discovers he and the other 8 (Well, 5 now) are gifted with "Legacies", essentially super powers, and that they are destined to protect earth from being destroyed from the Mogs. But John can't be bothered with all that crap because he's IN LOVE! The people who eliminated his entire culture in a planet wide genocide? That's not important when he's got to worry about the school quarterback pulling pranks on him! Spliced in with this are shots of the Mogs travelling, trying to track John and Henri down. This would be the time to set them us as threatening antagonists...except the most memorable scene of them is when one of the looks out the window of their car and uses makes a face to scare some chubby kid in the car next to them.

So let's see, we've got a Hero who's more concerned with high school than his impending murder, a female lead about as intriguing as a hunk of plywood, a Mentor that hasn't actually done anything, and Villains that are less intimidating than a teenager in a cheesy Halloween costume. This is a rough 2nd act.

Eventually though, the plot DOES finally pick up when the Sheriff (Mark's father) gets suspicious about the two people living in a foreclosed house that have no previous records or ID's. Henri rightly decides to leave and start over somewhere else, but John refuses because he can't bear to live without Sarah, a girl he's known for, oh, about a week, maybe two? Henri rightfully tells him to get his priorities straight, but then decides he needs to track down the webmaster of a website that has a video of John's Electric Lights and Magic scar from earlier, since apparently video evidence online of where they used to be is a risk to where they currently are. As it turns out though, the Mogs did in fact have a youtube account and set up a trap for Henri. John is then instructed to come to where they are if he wants to see Henri alive. John rushes in valiantly once he gets Sam to give him a ride.

To make a long story short, they go in, get Henri, are attacked by Mogs, Henri's injured and dies because he's the mentor and he has to die. John goes to tell Sarah goodbye, while Sam decides to root through his dad's old things to find a glowing rock that will apparently help them find the other Numbers. It kinda makes sense in context.

So John heads to a party that Sarah's throwing at her house after he hears on the news that the police have searched his house and now suspect he and Henri are terrorists because apparently having more than one computer in your house makes you a terrorist in Ohio. As it turns out, going to a party that is being attended by every teenager in the small town, including the Sheriff's son, isn't the best way to avoid cops. The police show up and John has to show off his telikinetic powers to get out, bringing Sarah along with him. They then decide that the best place for 2 teenagers running from the cops is at the school! Of course!

Following this, they're predictably cornered by the Mogs and are about to get their asses turned to dust when they're saved by a mysterious young woman who's also been tracking John. After killing 2 of the Mogs while making it look easy, she introduces herself as Number Six. She reveals that since her protector was killed by the Mogs a few years back, she decided to hunt the mogs down instead. While also trying to reunite the rest of the Numbers. And I think it's time I just say it now: I want to see a movie called "I Am Number Six".

If Six had been the main character of this movie, I would have liked it a LOT more. First of all she's already got control of her powers, she comes armed to the teeth with Alien technology, and she's all around just a more impressive and interesting character than Johnny boy and his "I just wanna be normal" bullcrap. Plus she rides a motor cycle, that's just cool.$ Alas, she's only around for the last 15 minutes.

After a big and admittedly impressive final action scene in which Six is firmly established as being better than every other character, and it's revealed that the terrible CGI dog is able to turn into a terrible CGI monster to fight off the Mogs' two terrible CGI monsters, the Mogs attacking them are all killed and John, Sam, and Six use the tracking rock to find out where they need to go to find the others. Sarah, as she has no actual stake in this other than she wants stick her tongue down John's throat, is left behind in her podunk town and they drive off into the horizon as John tries really hard to sound badass as he narrates.

Overall, the movie had some promise, with some interesting ideas about the various powers and abilities, but it comes off as trying too hard to start off a franchise, when it should be concerned with just telling a good story. The second act is pretty weak, with it feeling derivative of Spider-man and Smallville in a very bad way. The third act is definitely the highlight of the whole shebang, and the effects are used fairly well, awful CGI animals aside. It's not a great movie, but it has enough to offer that I don't regret watching.

Score: 6/10

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