I Am Number Four Review

Lucky for the people of the now destroyed planet Lorien, they look just like Earth people. It makes it easy to fit in and become identifiable to a teenage demographic… err, well, at least in terms of box office revenue. And hey, teenagers with special powers, jumping around forests, and falling in love is all the rage these days.

I Am Number Four is banal fiction, dreadfully boring with its wide expanses of exposition, all needless given the simplicity. There are aliens, other aliens want those aliens dead, and they fight. The evil doers here are the Mogadorians, stand-ins for Harry Potter’s Lord Voldemort, although the Mogs have noses. It’s expensive to design something otherwise. They want to take over the planet merely because that’s what they do. No, really. They don’t need the resources, they don’t want our women, they’re just jerks like that.

Number Four is John (Alex Pettyfer), next in line on the Mog’s assassination list, John beginning to learn of his super powers right in the midst of those awkward teenage years. There are others like him, but apparently not many if each is represented by a scar on the legs of each protector. There’s not much room. It begs the question of how many Mog’s are left to actually take over the planet, and if the protectors are so sparse, why not destroy a city and move on. Given how many of the evil Mog’s there seem to be, they could easily spare a few while the rest draw out the good of the Lorien species.

But, it’s not to be. Instead, audiences are treated to one of the more painful, sitcom-level dinners as John is invited to his girlfriend’s home for dinner. The Mog’s are more believable humans than these parents, and the writing here so utterly terrifying, it should elicit more scares than the eventual creature battle.

Oh yeah, the Mog’s have some type of service dog with them too, flying squirrel demons that seem awfully ferocious. Apparently no one catches on to all the noise they make while in the back of a truck trailer being carted all over the country looking to feast on Loriens. It also begs the question of why, like the Mogs, these mega rodents simply aren’t unleashed in a major metropolis. World devastation seems awfully simple, but our atmosphere seems to have rattled the brains of these invaders.

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

Dreamworks and Disney produce this Blu-ray, a competent film-to-disc AVC transfer without any glaring abnormalities or annoyances, that aside from some wonky black levels. They seem fine from the start, an early nighttime beach party producing substantial heft. Daylight is accompanied by weighty, deep blacks and exquisite shadow detail. It’s the latter half where things begin to spill out, special effects becoming heavier and the blacks more of a grayish, or even a blueish hue. It’s not particularly exciting or visually arresting.

Everything else is merely sort of there, Number Four’s transfer rather blah overall, detail peaks never astounding in any way, and the color palette never gaining traction. Flesh tones meander around dangerously orange territory, while other basics like trees and houses carry depth, if not intensity. John’s brightly lit hands produce the closest thing Number Four has to a vivid bone in its body, and that’s not saying much.

Moving back into detail, close-ups typically provide adequate, resolved facial definition even on this relatively young cast. That all disappears within medium shots, and various exteriors do nothing to better this one. Sharpness is adequate if nothing Lorien-shattering, this at least consistent in its ability to present the images crisply.

The AVC encode has a lot to contend with, including fast panning cameras during laser gun shoot outs, rapid-fire edits during fisticuffs, plus explosions, sparks, and a mild grain layer. It holds firm in its transparency, and the film-based source isn’t soured with any ringing, digital noise, or other transitional artifact. Some of this may sound awfully harsh for what is a more than competent encode, but coming from Disney, the expectation exists on a different level than what is being seen here. Comparatively to other new releases on a general spectrum, Number Four earns its title.

Video ★★★★☆ 

This is a DTS-HD mix that engages from the opening logos, one of those nifty tricks to immediately immerse viewers in the world of the film, even if that idea collapses later. Whirling winds begin a surround-based assault on the listener once that Dreamworks fishing kid passes by, the boisterous score quickly joining in on a pan over a jungle. Monkeys screech at the intruding camera, passing right by the soundfield into obscurity. The effect is totally seamless.

Number Four takes a break for a bit while characters chat it up with pristine dialogue, moving into a small town fair about 47-minutes in where things begin to pick up with the afforded ambiance. Suddenly, John begins firing off beams of light from his hands, each generating substantial low-end buzzing that makes you wonder why no one else is hearing all of this. Well, your neighbors probably are at the least.

Take another break to save up energy for the finale, where laser space guns you usually see in the cheapest of sci-fi blast off with tremendous jolts in the sub, and debris fields from the endless series of misses panning around appropriately. Monsters come out of their holding cells to do battle, roaring and clawing with the best of them, everything nicely tracked and positioned with the utmost regard for directionality. This is more like the Disney hi-def group we know of.

Audio ★★★★★ 

Paltry extras line the memory of the disc, beginning with six deleted scenes, introduced by director D.J. Caruso. Becoming Number Six is a decent featurette on Teresa Palmer and training for her role. A short blooper reel and this disc has exhausted itself.

Extras ★★☆☆☆