I Am Number Four
By S. Jhoanna Robledo,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Sci-fi thriller/teen romance isn't as good as the book.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie seems to say that you can't avoid your destiny -- and no matter how overwhelming the responsibilities of that destiny may be, you can rise to them.
Positive Role Models
John is principled and protective, and Sarah is curious and kind. But other than them, far too many of the characters are one-dimensional -- the bullying jocks, the nerdy sidekick, etc.
Violence & Scariness
Plenty of action-packed moments, some of which are somewhat bloody and involve intricate weapons that are similar to machine guns and scythes. The killers hot on John's heels appear quite menacing, flashing reptilian teeth and gills. They seem determined to destroy anything and anybody that gets in their way -- for example, one scene shows them about to gore a man with a weapon that looks like a small circular saw, and then he's shown being carried out in a body bag. One haunted house scene depicts teen boys manhandling a teen girl, and a boy who tries to protect her crushes them in an intense fistfight. Some bullying (taunts, shoves, etc.).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some kissing and light sexual banter.
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Some swearing, including "a--hole," "s--t," "p---ies," "ass," "crap," "hell," "oh my God," and "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
Logos and brand names like Ford, Canon, and Nikon are flashed on screen. Characters use iPhones and call/text each other on them frequently.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One scene takes place at a boisterous teenage party where kids are shown drinking what's presumably beer from cups.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this sci-fi thriller based on the best-selling young adult novel by Pittacus Lore is heavy on suspense and action, some of which may be too intense for younger fans of Glee's Dianna Agron and up-and-coming "it" guy Alex Pettyfer. In addition to the movie's action/violence (which includes fights, weapons, and menacing killers), expect some swearing (including "s--t" and "a--hole"), scenes depicting high-school bullying (taunts, shoves, pranks), implied teen drinking, and a bit of kissing/flirty banter.
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I Am Number Four
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What's the Story?
John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) isn't the golden boy high-schooler he appears to be. He's really number four, one of nine aliens who fled their planet and found safety on Earth -- but who are being hunted down, one by one and in sequence, by a team of assassins from their home. Number three has just been extinguished, which means John is next. He and his warrior-protector, Henry (Timothy Olyphant), have just abandoned Florida and are setting up in Paradise, Ohio. But try as he might, John can't keep a low profile, attracting the attention of town bullies whose ringleader is still in love with the mysterious pretty girl (Diana Agron) to whom John is also drawn. Once the Earthling is on John's heels, his extra-terrestrial tormentors will be, too.
Is It Any Good?
Judging by the special effects alone, I AM NUMBER FOUR is a successful, action-packed sci-fi adventure. The fight sequences are choreographed fairly thrillingly, the pacing skillful enough to create a few memorable jump-out-of-your-seat sequences in this Twilight-meets-Terminator production. But unlike Twilight, the scenes that aren't amped by CGI wizardry hold very little interest, hobbled by a befuddling back story -- why did John leave his planet, when, and how? -- and a woefully predictable plot.
The leader of a pack of stereotypical bullies is unsurprisingly a jock who's unsurprisingly hung up on a former cheerleader who, being the romantic lead, is unsurprisingly longing for a bigger life than her small town can offer and is unsurprisingly intrigued by the unsurprisingly mysterious newcomer. (Get the picture?) And where is the chemistry between John and Sarah? (They're no Edward and Bella.) We care so little about them as a couple that it doesn't really matter when the extra-terrestrial assassins show up for a battle royale that may or may not tear them -- and their town -- asunder.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. Is it necessary to the story? Is it as scary as what you've seen in other movies? Why or why not?
What do you think of the bullying scenes? Do they seem realistic? What would the consequences for that kind of behavior be in real life?
Romances between two people who are very different -- as in one is human, the other isn't -- seem quite popular lately. Why do you think that is?
How does the movie compare to the book? Which do you like better?
- In theaters: February 18, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: May 24, 2011
- Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Dianna Agron, Timothy Olyphant
- Director: D.J. Caruso
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence and action, and for brief language
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
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