I Am Number Four

Laura's Review: C-

A young blond surfer in Florida suddenly exhibits very strange phenomena as a mark beaming light is burned into his shin. He hastily leaves town with his 'dad' and a small green lizard which stows away in their truck bed. But dad is really Lorien warrior Henri (Timothy Olyphant, HBO's 'Deadwood,' TV's 'Justified'), tasked with keeping his charge, one of 'the nine' hiding out on planet earth who are the race's last hope for defeating the Mogadorians, the species who wiped out their planet. Now calling himself John Smith (Alex Pettyfer, "Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker") in Paradise, Ohio, the young man who is just now coming into the powers known as Legacies realizes that the first three of the nine have been hunted down and killed in "I Am Number Four." Assemble scribes from movies and television with teen heros ('Smallville' and "Spider-Man 2's" Alfred Gough & Miles Millar and 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer's' Marti Noxon), the latest YA novel from 'Pittacus Lore,' a director of generic youth oriented actioners ("Disturbia" and "Eagle Eye's" D.J. Caruso) and a cast cobbled together from "Alex Rider," 'Glee,' "Flipped" and "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" and you have "I Am Number Four," a silly sci-fi outing with dull as dishwater leads, subpar CGI and hopes for a franchise. Some glimmers of personality escape from some supporting players, but the best thing to be said about "I Am Number Four" is that Kevin Durand (TV's 'Lost,' "Robin Hood") creates a bad guy both funny and threatening. This one feels played out before it's even started. The film begins, as these so often do, with a preview of what's to come as some unseen beast attacks a shack deep in woods. This is number 3 and his protector and 3's demise is quickly forecast to 4 via a curlicued burn on his leg witnessed by many. Henri announces that he has 'business' in Paradise and the two drive north and appear to squat in a foreclosed farmhouse off the beaten track. Henri wants his ward to lay low, but Number 4 is determined to go to school like a normal kid (why would a superior alien race want a human high school education?). Once there, he meets Sarah (Dianna Agron, 'Glee's' Quinn), a pretty outcast photographer, and stands up for Sam (Callan McAuliffe, "Flipped"), the science nerd who is bullied by the school's quarterback Mark (Jake Abel, "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief"), who also happens to think he owns Sarah's affections. Sam's affiliation with conspiracy geeks turn out to be directly tied into the 'business' Henri is conducting. Oh, and that little green lizard? Unbeknownst to John, it transformed into the adorable beagle he found on his new front step and named Bernie Kosar after the football player. A teenager with light beaming out of his palms and super strength really isn't all that intriguing. John and Sarah are all about their good looks. McAuliffe at least projects a personality, as does Teresa Palmer ("The Sorcerer's Apprentice"), of the aloof , kickass variety, as the motorcycle riding Number 6 (unfortunately she's introduced striding nonchalantly away from a fireball - that encompasses her and then recedes by way of cheesy fx). Even Olyphant can't find much to distinguish Henri, although he clearly can act rings around his costar. Those Mogadorians, with their tattooed heads, pointy teeth and Matrix style outwear, are pretty entertaining - these guys have a sick sense of humor and a semi full of something so ferocious one of them chucks in a dozen frozen turkeys to feed it. The film ends in one of those big showdowns that never hold any surprises as various factions pair off and rampant destruction ensues. Bernie Kosar holds a surprise that isn't except for the lengths Caruso will go to milk the endangered doggy routine.

Robin's Review: B+

I once made the attempt to read Baldwin’s Another Country (published in 1962) many years ago and, at the time, its depth of feeling and statements about homosexuality and bisexuality were way ahead of their time and way over my head. Plus, his intellectual writing style was not exactly the cup of tea for a pulp sc-fi reader. Fortunately, I think I have broadened my mind since then, but I have yet to make another stab at his works. Filmmaker Raoul Peck, with the cooperation of Baldwin’s family, creates a richly layered look in the author’s own words – his in archival footage and Samuel L Jackson speaking Baldwin’s words in voiceover – of life in America during the tumultuous times of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. The filmmaker does not, though, rely on just the footage of Baldwin talking – on the Dick Cavett Show and at the Cambridge University Forum in the 1960s, among other venues. Peck also assembles a decades-spanning collection of film clips, commercials and US government documentaries that deal with issues of segregation and white dominance of our culture. “I Am Not Your Negro” is a powerful and eye-opening viewpoint of a man who spent his life fighting for social justice for his race and, by extension, all races.