John is a kid with powers – not super powers – alien powers, the kind the only come from visitors from another planet. Caught in a war of worlds, John has been sent to Earth to hide. Three like him have been killed, he is Number Four.

Release Year: 2011
Director: D.J. Caruso
Writers: Alfred Gough, MIles Millar, and Marti Noxon
Based on a novel by James Frey and Jobie Hughes
John: Alex Pettyfer
Henri: Timothy Olyphant
Number 6: Teresa Palmer
Sarah: Dianna Agron
Sam: Callan McAuliffe

At first glance, I Am Number Four sounds like a perfect movie for the generation of fans who long for teenage romance stories that have a touch of the supernatural tied to them. The Mogadorians are bent on killing every member of John and Henri’s race, and they’ve come to Earth to hunt down the remaining children so they may emerge supreme. Genocide and child murder sounds like a winner, and really the hide and seek aspect of the movie while the central character discovers and hones his powers, all while falling for the really cute blonde girl in his school is a pretty solid concept.

It is a good story, but it is a terrible movie. Instead of a major motion picture, I Am Number Four comes off as the two hour premiere for a brand new CW series. If there were a TV Tropes entry for what makes a good CW series, this one has them all

  • Teenage Drama – check
  • Stunt casting with a major star who dies at the end, thus removing future commitment for any sequel that might get made – check
  • Strong and good looking lead – check
  • Kind of wimpy sidekick, who will need constant saving in the future – check
  • Strong, silent, hot girl who is a kick-ass warrior – check
  • Stunt casting with hot up and coming starlet who is making the move from television to film, yet is also written out at the end to keep her options open – check
  • Writers Gough and Miller, famous for Smallville, and who know what makes teen action dramas work – check
  • Pretty lighting and cinematography reminiscent of Smallville and One Tree Hill – check

The list goes on and on, but you get the idea…

The lighting and cinematography are really good, and with D.J. Caruso at the lead, the movie does have some really good special effects and action moments. On the downside, the two actors I was most interested in seeing (Olyphant and Agron) are a bit stiff in their performance, and if this movie turns into a franchise (it made enough money in the initial release to justify it) both are completely written out by the end of the movie.

The villains are one dimensional in their creation and execution, and because the actors playing the Mogadorians cheese it up, there is never a moment where the viewer feels worried or scared for the heroes.


If you sit down to watch I Am Number Four and you look at it from a failed TV pilot perspective, you’ll probably get a kick out of the movie. If you are going in to see a sci-fi thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat, then you are going to be really disappointed. Ultimately, I Am Number Four has a great set-up and a good premise, but ultimately falls on its face. Some nice special effects, and a cinematic look earn I Am Number Four 1 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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  1. May 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm — Reply

    Looks as bad as I thought. Man, I am so glad I never gave this stinker a shot. Thanks for biting the bullet on this one.

  2. May 25, 2011 at 3:03 pm — Reply

    It was so bad, I actually saw it twice. It was the must-see comedy of the year! I actually guffawed once or twice. Who guffaws anymore???

  3. Young
    May 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm — Reply

    Don’t know about the casting, but the exit of the two characters is actually part of the book, so the movie-makers can be excused (or damned for picking the book in the first place) from that particular accusation. The book, btw, is pretty bad (haven’t seen the movie, so I can’t comment on its quality, but based on the source material, it really must be as bad as reviewed).

  4. George McBain
    May 26, 2011 at 10:45 am — Reply

    Ah man, I really wanted to see this for the super-cute Diane Argon (and Olyphant as well, though not as super-cute, ha!) … I still MIGHT Redbox this.

  5. May 26, 2011 at 11:46 am — Reply

    I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Yeah some of the writing was a bit sub par, but the action sequences were pretty fantastic. Also, #6 was awesome, what with them thinking about how a teleporter would fight. The bad guys did ham it up quite a bit, but that really just added to the overall enjoyment for me. I was happy to have seen the movie and wouldn’t mind watching it again.

  6. Damascus
    June 1, 2011 at 3:36 am — Reply

    I didn’t know until just now that one of the co-authors of the story this was based on was James Frey. The same guy that Oprah bitch-slapped on her show because he lied in his autobiography that she had endorsed. That’s pretty weird. Well, we knew he could write fiction, so I guess it’s not too hard to see. Although, they are talking about a sequel in which Number 6 would get a bunch more screen time.

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