He Said – She Said … I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four

Directed by: D.J Caruso
Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Dianna Agron, Timothy Olyphant, Callan McAuliffe, Teresa Palmer
Running Time: 1 hr 48 mins
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: February 18, 2011

PLOT: John (Pettyfer) is a teenager from another planet with special powers bestowed upon him by his alien roots. With the help of his guardian Henri (Olyphant), he tries to elude those trying to kill him and eight others, which would subsequently destroy his race.

He Said (Jeff Bayer) vs. She Said (Morrow McLaughlin)

Let the games begin. As always … PLOT SPOILERS!

She Said:

I am Number Four rocked! It was exactly what I wanted it to be and it was actually more fun than I expected. Sure, it bothered me that apparently everyone from their planet is blond and Caucasian and there didn’t appear to be a single minority to be found in the entire movie, but setting aside the thorough white-washing, I liked it! I liked Timothy Olyphant as the warrior/protector and I liked Alex Pettyfer as Number Four, although it took me a while to warm up to him – I’m a tad sick of the insouciant male-modelesque youth slouching around the place looking pouty, but after a while, I dug Number Four.

The special effects were nothing new, but still great fun to watch. It took a while for the action to kick in, but I assume that’s because I Am Number Four is the first in a series. The next book is The Power of Six and depending on how the movie version does, we might have ourselves an action packed sequel to look forward to. Or at least I will. Look forward to it, I mean.

And now I will do an impression of Bayer:

Morrow, you are clearly a simpleton. This movie was idiotic and mindless and I might have known you’d stoop to liking it. It must have been all that gas you sniffed when you were a teenager. I might not hate everything as rabidly and as consistently as Nick, but I still know a fool when I see one. Well, I better head out; my schedule is filled to the brim with appointments to be grouchy and superior.

He Said:

“Jeff, just claw your eyes out. It will be quicker, easier and more dignified.”
“No, I couldn’t. Morrow is a friend, co-writer and overall fun opinionator.”
“I know, I know, but … she liked it.”
“Wait, Jeff, are you doing that thing where you accidentally split your mind into two voices and then write down everything you say instead of just leaving these thoughts in your mind? How embarrassing. Let’s stop and just get on with it.”

And now, on to comments about I am Number Four. Pretty people are not enough. That’s what everyone needs to remember. Sure, pretty people go far in our real society. I won’t deny that. But in the movie world everyone is pretty. You’ve got to bring more to the table. I am Number Four doesn’t try. Simply put, it’s a combo between Twilight and X-Men, but not as good as either. That’s right. The first Twilight is now superior to something. Congratulations I am Number Four.

In the very, very beginning, there is action in this movie, and it is good. Then there is about 1 hour and 10 minutes of high school thinking/desiring, and then there is action. It’s like this film is trying to appeal to EVERY young teenager, but never at the same time.

So, now that I have chosen to try and spend two-thousand words with you talking about this film, I shall be polite (for now). What would you like to talk about first, the evil Magadorians? The bully and the geek? The photography hottie? Or, throw me a curve ball. Your choice.

She Said:

First of all, let me just say well done. I don’t usually laugh out loud when I read someone’s response, not with genuine amusement anyway. I especially liked the part where you talk to yourself. I’m proud of you for being more open and honest about that strange little quirk of yours.

And now it’s time for my confession: I LIKE movies chock full of pretty people and I LIKE the combination of Twilight and X-Men, although, having read Meyer’s series, I would argue that the first Twilight film is still a big boring turd of teenaged angst. The ubiquitous prettiness isn’t what bothers me: I want everyone in the movies to be fun to look at! Give me more eye candy! My kingdom for more eye candy! And pretty people with superpowers? Hot dog!

So maybe you prefer these sorts of movies to feature dumpos with boring abilities, like being able to see unimportant events five seconds into the future: “Five seconds from now you will remember that you left your toast on the counter and you haven’t eaten yet today!” “Oh my gosh! That is SPOOKY!” But I, personally, like my fantasies fantastical! Gorgeous people pretending they don’t know they’re gorgeous and complaining about being the “outsider” has existed in film forever; heck, John Hughs worked tirelessly to bring the plight of unwittingly gorgeous people with so-called “weird” hobbies (painting, photography, poetry, etc.) to the big screen! Why can’t you see how difficult it is in the teenage society of movieland to have the face of an angel, the body of a god, and the mind of a centuries-year old philosopher? It’s darned hard, Jeff. Roving packs of bullies are likely to set upon you at any moment, thus giving you the opportunity to look sexy taking the high road. These are serious matters. Actually, I’m starting to think you’re not fit to have this discussion.

I am Number Four was fun. There were slow moments, but for the most part I enjoyed it as a whole. I liked the idea of an alien wanting to be part of human culture, but being isolated for his own safety. I liked how Number Four was so desperate to just go to high school and be like everyone else, when everyone else is so desperate to just get out of high school. I bought that he was in constant danger and I felt constricted along with him. It didn’t irritate me when he sneaked out to be with a pretty girl, because he was acting like a teenager. It’s really well captured when Henri is forbidding Number Four to leave and Number Four gives the old, “You’re not my father!” speech, before attempting to storm off dramatically. And, most importantly, it wasn’t Number Four’s fault that Henri died; the second you kill off Henri because Number Four is being a rebellious dick, is the second I stop liking the character.

He Said:

Don’t you dare bring John HUGHES (not Hughs) into this argument. He nailed high school with kids that were not gorgeous (Molly Ringwald and the king of kid geeks Anthony Michael Hall). He showcased what it feels like to be a teen, he didn’t copy.

You bring up “slow moments” in I Am Number Four. Are you referring to the 1 hour and 15 minutes that follow the opening action sequence? Because that’s a HUGE slow moment. Sure, there is a two minute break where we see John (Mr. #4) practice his new abilities. Then there is one of the worse uses of a teenage gang I’ve ever seen. Yes, this allows action to happen, but that’s all it does. After Sarah and John go through a haunted house they are attacked. They attempt to beat up John and kidnap Sarah. Why? So her ex can explain he’s not a bad guy.

You finally turn on Number Four … again, his name is John. Henri calls him John, you can start calling him John. It’s OK. The pretty boy won’t hate you. Anyway, you finally turn on John because Henri dies. It shouldn’t have taken that long. John’s decisions are always idiotic. He needs to blend in or humanity could be lost. He shrugs his shoulders and goes to school where he immediately stands out. Look, teenagers are annoying. John does capture that, but then the only people who should be able to APPRECIATE him are teenagers (or those who still act like one, yes, I am pointing a finger in your direction). So, unless you are giving them something really funny or interesting to deal with, we’re going to notice you’ve simply made an annoying teenager.

You know what else is annoying besides teenagers? The bad guys. I’ll get past the head tattoos and their basic path of “we kill things, that is who we are.” What really annoyed me is that I don’t remember the film ever explaining that the good aliens had to be killed in order. What was really stopping the Mogadorians from killing everyone on Earth? Point your big guns and shoot. The heroes are in hiding or miles away. Case closed. Any final words about how being pretty is all that matters?

She Said:

Apparently someone didn’t watch the movie, since Number Four had a number of names including John and Danny. At the end of the movie he simply goes by “Four,” so I am right and you are oh so wrongo.

I apologize heartily for misspelling Hughes. I can see I’ve committed some sort of heinous sacrilege in the consecrated world of Jeff’s Favorite Angsty Teen Movies. And although I’m loathe to use an argument I’ve often used with Nick, I feel it has to be said: LET GO OF YOUR CHILDHOOD, JEFF. You’re defending movies that you would have hated had you seen them in the last few years and then you’re making arguments against I am Number Four that apply to almost every teen flick.

And the teenaged gang is just fine. They’re cartoons, like always. The principal in The Breakfast Club is an exaggerated caricature of a bad guy and James Spader in Pretty in Pink? He just lounged around in white suits and loafers, sneering at Molly Ringwald’s character for being trashy. Any movie that you might defend from this particular genre would have all the same flaws as I Am Number Four. The key difference here is YOU, not the movies.

Although I have to concede that I would’ve welcomed an explanation as to why the Mogadorians had to kill them in numerical order. Now that you mention it, that is weird and annoying. All you need to fix it is one line: one of the Mogadorians could say, “We’re an obsessive compulsive species and would you mind if we alphabetized your CD collection,” and voila! Problem solved!

And I didn’t turn on John, as you insist on calling him. I never turned on John. You must be too upset to read what I’m writing Therefore, I’m going to take advantage of your sloppiness and intermittently interject you’re wrong into this paragraph. I’ll show you acting like a teenager you’re wrong. I said I would’ve turned on John if he got Henri killed, but he didn’t you’re wrong. I mean, sure, arguably John shortened Henri’s lifespan, but it wasn’t too egregious you’re wrong. It’s possible that I think that because he’s so darned purty, I’ll admit you’re wrong. It’ll take some soul searching on my part to know for certain.

As for why the bad aliens didn’t just kill everybody right away – I assume you mean send some sort of nifty alien bomb that wipes out the population – then the planet would be useless to them…and it would be a much shorter movie. I can’t believe you’re this worked up over the aliens lack of efficiency when it comes to world domination. They just want to quietly wipe out the good aliens and then swoop in and take over. The only reason there’s so much destruction in the end is that the Mogadorians didn’t expect the good aliens to have organized any sort of resistance.

In conclusion, I Am Number Four is enjoyable. Obviously, you’re less likely to enjoy it if you’re a premature codger who spends all his time complaining about perfectly wonderful people who may or may not act like teenagers sometimes, but that’s what makes the world go round!

Now I think we should join hands and sing “Bomb the World” by Michael Franti. “We can bomb the world to pieces, but we can’t bomb it into peace…doo wap, woo wap…”

He Said:

My bad guy argument … Why didn’t the Mogadorians just start shooting humans with their big guns. Forget bombs that the movie never talked about. The aliens were convinced John and the others were protecting Earth, when they were really just hiding. Beyond that, this is neat. I don’t have to write anything in this section. You dug your own grave. You are under the impression that John Hughes’ films didn’t tap into something more. All imaginary teenagers are not the same. Also, your argument about me letting go of my childhood is misplaced. I rewatch the great films of my youth and realize some of them don’t hold up. Pretty young people don’t blind me like they do you. That’s a difference we can’t argue about, except for the fact that it’s sad. Yes, that’s right. I feel sorry for you that you are capable of enjoying a movie like I Am Number Four as much as you did. My red wine, my art collection, and my ivory tower reach out to you.

4 Comments

  1. Shawna says:

    Jeff, obviosly you did not watch this movie because in the begining while John and Henri left Florida to go to Ohio he said that the Mogadorians had to kill them in order. Why do you think that John had those three tattoos on his leg, to let him know that the three before him were killed. Also, it was explained that the last 9 Loriens were kids when the left their home planet. They came to Earth to hide out until they became adults. If you did see this movie then you really didn’t pay attention a whole lot and you already had your critique even before the movie started. Which in my opinion is dumb. Honestly, before you critique any movie you must closely watch the movie. oh, by the wat John Hughes is a horrible actor. So, Jeff my advice is to you, watch the movie before you critique it, and have an open mind when you go to watch it. I thought that I Am Number Four was a great movie. It was entertaining, it also held my eye, had a great plot line and it was nice to see a little romance in an action film but it was nice and subtle. And that is why people go to the movies. . . TO BE ENTERTAINED!!!! But seriously Jeff, take my advice you might actually like some movies.

  2. Travis says:

    So, I pretty much agree with you Shawna on this one. It’s not hard to enjoy this movie, I only saw it once and completely understood it and loved it. Maybe Jeff is just a horrible critic and can retain much information about what he watches or really just doesn’t pay attention. So if Jeff just watched the movie a few more times he would understand it. Ignorance is bliss but Jeff you just have no excuse. This was a great movie and all the bad reviews i read are wrong about many things especially yours Jeff. Its just horrible that your mouth had to open and destroy this movie. Maybe in time the people that rated it bad will open their eyes and realize its a great movie. But people always hate things on their first impression and it’s such a shame this movie was a victim in that. I honestly do not like the twilight movies, liked the books but not the movies, and with me knowing all there is to know about them I really don’t see any relation to Twilight and I Am Number Four. Sure in Twilight Edward is described as god-like but are the people in I Am Number Four god-like? no, they are not and therefore should not be categorized as being so. The actor that plays john is actually a person I have never seen before or ever heard of and it is always nice to get fresh actors in movies that do a great job at acting. Sarah is very beautiful and if i was in John’s position would of fallen for her too. The movie was really set up great and had a great story line and my cousin read the book and said the movie was kept really close to the book and the actors fit how she imagined them, not exactly but it never turns out that way. I Am Number Four is my favorite movie of the year so far and only after seeing it once, I will see this movie many times. And Jeff, I think I might understand why you hate this movie. This movie is not your preferred genre obviously. So maybe you should stick to criticizing your preferred movies with your preferred genres. And also since you don’t have an open mind and you have a genre preference then maybe you shouldn’t publicly criticize movies at all because all you do is ruin it for everyone else. Or what you could do is specify what your preferred genre is so that only others with the same preference can take your advice. Other than that please keep your negative comments about great movies to yourself, they are not needed. I am not done here but I have run out of time to fix this issue and will be back on another day, thanks for the time,

    Travis

  3. Jeff Bayer says:

    Sorry Travis, “bad movie” is not a genre.

  4. Travis says:

    You just have a special taste in movies. Just because the aliens aren’t hideous creatures we only can dream about, doesn’t make it a stupid movie. I’m sure you love the Alien series with Sigourney Weaver right?

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