New on DVD/Blu-ray: I am Number Four (2011)

“I am Number Four” is from producer Michael Bay, but there is a surprising lack of transforming robots in the movie. Which is a shame, as I think transforming robots might have been just what the doctor ordered. Nevertheless, the film is due out on DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, Movie Download and On-Demand May 24th from Touchstone Pictures and DreamWorks.

Three are dead. Who is Number four? From Director D.J. Caruso (Disturbia), producer Michael Bay (Transformers) and the Emmy-winning writers of TV’s Smallville, comes this gripping, action-packed thriller. John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is an extraordinary teen masking his true identity to elude a deadly enemy sent to destroy him. Living with his guardian (Timothy Olyphant) in the small town he now calls home, John encounters unexpected life-changing events – his first love (Dianna Agron, TV’s Glee), powerful new abilities and a secret connection to the others who share his incredible destiny. Complete with deleted scenes and more, I Am Number Four is an explosive suspense-filled ride that will take you to the edge of your seat and beyond.

Movie Review:

Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone, but that new kid who just moved into that old, rundown, middle-of-nowhere house with his supposed father? He’s not one of us. In fact, he’s an alien from the planet Lorien. Or Lorraine. Or one of those. Look, the name of the planet doesn’t really matter. What matters is, ol John Smith (creative fake name making is not one of his specialties) is on the run from some killer alien types who mass-murdered his whole planet, and are now after John and his fellow nine alien refugees to finish the job. Yup, they’re bastards that way. Oh, if only poor John didn’t have to keep running, he might finally get a little sumthin’ sumthin’ from the angelic looking schoolmate played by that girl from “Glee” who is so gosh-darn pretty and yet still manages to be oh so gosh-darn dull in absolutely every way. But alas, alas…

The first of a proposed trilogy of movies (based on the first of a proposed trilogy of books), “I am Number Four” has the distinction of feeling like a bad CW TV episode made on a big Hollywood studio movie budget. Mind you, not that director D.J. Caruso or the screenwriters really do much with the budget. Most of it, I suspect, was saved for the finale at the school, where John, #4 in the line of alien refugees, joins forces with the hot-to-trot #6 (played with sexy swerve by the hot to trot Teresa Palmer) to take on the alien menace led by a nearly unrecognizable Kevin Durand, here yukking it up something awful as the baddie.

If there is one noticeable issue with “I am Number Four”, it has to be the predictable and at times utterly insipid script by Marti Noxon and former “Smallville” guys Miles Millar and Alfred Gough. This, folks, is what happens when you let old men and women in their mid- to late-40s write about “troubled teens” in high school. It’s no surprise that the film gets increasingly watchable whenever Palmer’s not-pretending-to-be-a-high-schooler Number Six shows up. Until then, we’re stuck watching hunky hunk Alex Pettyfer brooding and wishing he was a normal human boy and be just like everyone else cause gosh darn it, why does everyone get to have fun while he has to keep running for his life from planet-murdering aliens? It just isn’t fair! And don’t even get me started on the evil football players and their evil hick Sheriff dads. Holy dear God of Mercy. Stab me in the eyes now.

For what is essentially an Origin Story, “I am Number Four” does an impressively piss-poor job of filling us in on anything we might want to know about the aliens (both good and bad), their genocidal intergalactic war, and just how exactly did they arrive on Earth. I guess they’re saving it all for the sequel. On the plus side, star Alex Pettyfer, one of those impossibly handsome Hollywood kids with perfect everything, is surprisingly convincing as an action hero, if not so much the whole “acting like a teen under pressure from a dead homeworld” stuff. Still, his scenes with “Justified’s” Timothy Olyphant, playing his alien guardian, are some of the film’s more believable moments. When Number Four embraces his alien powers and starts putting the hurt on some of the film’s more annoying characters, it’s quite fun to watch. In a way, you sort of get why the bad aliens are so determined to kill the little buggers — those powers of theirs are pretty outrageously dangerous. Number Six’s transporting power, in particular, is just cool.

Those hoping for a sequel to “I am Number Four” have plenty to look forward to. Made for the aforementioned $60 million, the film has grossed $144 million worldwide, and should see brisk sales on DVD and Blu-ray. In today’s Hollywood climate, that usually warrants a sequel or two. The second installment in the trilogy by Pittacus Lore (the ridiculous pseudonym for James Frey and Jobie Hughes), titled “The Power of Six” is due to be published later this year, and would seem to indicate more focus will be given to Teresa Palmer’s Number Six. Now that is something to look forward to.

Blu-ray Combo Pack Review:

The Blu-ray menu is made to look like Sarah’s Strangers in Paradise website, complete with hanging Polaroids.

Deleted Scenes: 18 minutes of deleted and extended scenes, each one featuring introduction by director D.J. Caruso —

  • Extended Strangers in Paradise
  • Sam’s Mom
  • Worth Mentioning
  • Power Prank
  • Trying to Connect
  • Extended Warsaw Basement

“Becoming Number Six”: an 11-minute featurette starring Teresa Palmer, following her as she gets ready to play the alien badass. If you’re like me and think “I am Number Four” could have used a hell of a lot more of Number Six, then this is pretty good stuff. FYI: Listening to Teresa Palmer’s thick Aussie accent, you really have to appreciate the little lady’s talents when she plays an American onscreen in some of her previous films like “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”

Bloopers: 3 minutes of Tomfoolery from the set.

“I am Number Four” will be available on DVD and Blu-ray May 24th from Touchstone Pictures/Dreamworks.