I Am Number Four – Sci-fi thriller is explosive fun (but take care the wooden leads don’t give you splinters)

I Am Number Four - Alex Pettyfer & Teresa Palmer

With the Twilight screen series fast approaching its sell-by date, Hollywood is clearly itching to find the next movie franchise that will set teen hearts a-fluttering and teen fingers a-twittering.

Replace Twilight’s hunky vampire with an equally hunky extraterrestrial and you have the nakedly opportunistic concept behind I Am Number Four, a dizzy sci-fi action thriller that also shares with Twilight a high-school setting and an outsider-girl love interest for the hero.

I Am Number Four also has in common with Twilight a chisel-jawed young English actor – with Alex Pettyfer looking here to emulate Robert Pattinson’s heartthrob status. If this film fails, he’ll have another shot when he stars opposite High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens in the forthcoming Beauty and the Beast.

I Am Number Four - Dianna Agron & Alex Pettyfer

Pettyfer plays ‘John Smith’, who looks like an all-American teen but is actually one of a handful of survivors from the planet Lorien, fugitives on the run from ruthless alien enemies, the Mogadorians. An ugly bunch with bad teeth, tattoos on their heads and, oh, gills by the side of their noses, the Mogs have already caught up with Lorien survivors one, two and three, and John is number four.

Is John’s number up?  Not if his protector, Henri (Deadwood’s Timothy Olyphant), has anything to do with it. Keeping the pair constantly on the move, he relocates them to the small Ohio town of Paradise, where John falls for local girl Sarah (Glee’s Dianna Agron), befriends bullied geek Sam (Callan McAuliffe) and begins to flex his amazing superhuman gifts – which include the ability to flatten meat-headed school jocks with a punch and send light shooting from his palms. Handy. But the Mogs are drawing ever closer…

I Am Number Four is undeniably cynical and shallow, the plotting is ponderous and Pettyfer and Agron are so wooden they probably gave each other splinters during their clinches. And yet… when the action finally kicks off there’s mindless fun to be had (especially if the explosions are coming at you from an Imax screen). I wouldn’t count on there being a sequel, but if there were then Teresa Palmer’s leather-wearing, Ducati-riding, ass-kicking Number Six would make a far more impressive protagonist.

On general release from 23rd February.

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