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I Am Number Four: 3-Disc Combo Pack (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 20, 2011 by  



“I Am Number Four”may not be a stellar film, nor it may be a deep film but for a D.J. Caruso/Michael Bay film, it definitely delivers as a popcorn sci-fi action film.  The Blu-ray features very good PQ, even better lossless audio but tends to be weak on the special features end of things.  But if you enjoyed the film, you will no doubt enjoy “I Am Number Four”!

Images courtesy of ©2011 Dreamworks II Distribution Co, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: I Am Number Four

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2011

DURATION: 109 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, (48 kHz/24-bit), English 2.0 DVS, French, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound, Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

RATED: PG-13 (For Intense Sequences of Violence and Action and for Brief Language)

COMPANY: Touchstone Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures

RELEASE DATE: May 24, 2011

Directed by D.J. Caruso

Screenplay by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Marti Noxon

Novel by Jobie Hughes and James Frey

Producer: Michael Bay

Executive Producer: Chris Bender, J.C. Spink, David Valdes

Associate Producer: Emily Berger, James M. Freitag

Co-Executive Producer: Matthew Cohan

Music by Trevor Rabin

Cinematography by Guillermo Navarro

Edited by Vince Filippone, Jim Page

Casting by Deborah Aquila, Mary Tricia Wood

Production Design by Tom Southwell

Art Direction by Douglas Cumming, John B. Josselyn, Paul D. Kelly

Set Decoration by Maria Nay

Costume Design by Marie-Sylvie Deveau

Starring:

Alex Pettyfer as John

Timothy Olyphant as Henri

Teresa Palmer as Number 6

Dianna Agron as Sarah

Callan McAuliffe as Sam

Kevin Durand as Mogadorian Commander

Jake Abel as Mark

Jeff Hochendoner as Sheriff James

Patrick Sebes as Kevin

Greg Townley as Number 3

Reuben Langdon as Number 3’s Guardian

Emily Wickersham as Nicole

Three are dead. Who is Number Four? From director D.J. Caruso (Disturbia), producer Michael Bay (Transformers) and the 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.

In 2010, “I Am Number Four”, a young adult science fiction novel by Pittcaus Lore (the pseudonym used by James Frey and Jobie Hughes) topped “The New York Times” Best Seller List.

Because of the popularity of teen sci-fi films such as “The Chronicles of Narnia” to even “Twilight”, DreamWorks Pictures looked ahead in purchasing the rights for the film and then releasing the film in Feb. 2011.

As the novel is the first of a planned six-book series, the film which was budgeted at $50 million, brought in $144 million in the box office.

The film considered as a popcorn sci-fi action film by critics was directed by D.J. Caruso (“Eagle Eye”, “Disturbia”, “Taking Lives”) and a screenplay written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and Marti Noxon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Angel”, “Mad Men”).

“I Am Number Four” revolves around an alien named John Smith (played by Alex Pettyfer, “Beastly”, “Tormented”) from the planet Lorien.  He and his protector have been trying to evade an invading race known as the Mogadorians who want to take control of the galaxy and those who were responsible for destroying the planet Lorien.

Nine children and their protectors were sent to the planet Earth to evade the Mogadorians but #1 and #2 (including their protectors) were killed earlier on but now, the third has been killed as well.  Because they are killing in numerical order, John Smith a.k.a. “Number Four” is next.

When the dead of the Number Three began to cause adverse reactions to John, because people saw his power (and one posted it on the Internet), both he and his guardian, Henri (played by Timothy Olyphant, “Hitman”, “Live Free or Die Hard”, “The Girl Next Door”) move away quickly from Florida and end up in Paradise, Ohio.

Because John was quite involved in school and athletics at the last school, Henri has told him to not be popular and to stay invisible.  But on the first day of high school, he meets Sarah (played by Dianna Agron, “Glee”, “Burlesque”), an inspiring photographer who runs a popular blog about the students and teachers at her school (which she has gotten in trouble for).

John also meets Sam (played by Callan McAuliffe), a student who is treated badly at school because of his father who was abducted by aliens and thus, the students think he is a nut job and the jocks constantly bully him.

But John quickly learns that the two new friends have caused immediate friction at school because Sarah once dated the quarterback, Mark (played by Jake Abel, “The Lovely Boys”, “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief”), a jock who is constantly bullying Sam but also is unable to get past the breakup with Sarah.

One day, when a football player threw a football at Sam’s head, John threw the football and noticed his strength increase.  The next thing you know, during class, lights start shooting out of his hands and disturbed by what is going on, John hides in the janitor’s closet where he is found by Henri who tells him that his powers have awakened, powers that he and certain people are gifted with.  Powers that if united with the other surviving members of his planet, they together can defeat the Mogadorians.

But one day as Mark gets jealous of how John and Sarah are getting closer, while at the fair, John is attacked by Mark and his football buddies and immediately, his power comes to life and Sam witnesses everything.

Because people have seen John’s power, including Sam, Henri wants to move away.  But John who has fallen in love with Sarah, doesn’t want to.  And to make things worst, the Mogadorians are heading towards their city.  But also a mysterious woman (Number 6, played by Teresa Palmer, “Bedtime Stories”, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”) also seems to be looking for #4.

VIDEO:

“I Am Number Four” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1).  You have ILM working on the special effects and you have a stylishly dark cinematography courtesy of Guillermo Navarro (“Pan’s Labrynth”, “Jackie Brown”, “From Dusk Till Dawn”) and with a collaboration with director D.J. Caruso and also producer Michael Bay, you have a pretty awesome looking film.  I personally didn’t see any artifacting, banding nor did I see any problems with the overall film.  I felt the special effects were nicely done and if anything, while the film is more on the darkish side, I felt the lighting choice was probably done on purpose.

It would have been great to have an audio commentary to have the director discuss the overall look and feel of the film but since it was not included, I take it for what it is and I was quite content with the overall PQ.  It’s not vibrant and colorful but for this film and it’s lurking darkness, I felt for this film, overall PQ looked great.

AUDIO:

“I Am Number Four” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, (48 kHz/24-bit), English 2.0 DVS, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound.  The lossless audio soundtrack was very well-done.  Although most of it is actually during the scenes featuring Number Six.  But with the number of explosions, monster battles, laser shots, etc., there is an active use of the surround channels and also, a heavy dependence on a musical soundtrack.  In fact, I was surprised to hear Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” while watching this film.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“I Am Number Four” comes with the following special features.

  • Deleted Scenes with Introduction by D.J. Caruso – (18:56) Featuring six deleted scenes with an introduction by D.J. Caruso of why those scenes were cut.
  • Becoming Number 6 – (11:44) A special feature showcasing the amount of training for Teresa Palmer’s role and the special effects used in the film for her character.
  • Bloopers – (3:15) Cast bloopers for “I Am Number Four”.

EXTRAS:

“I Am Number Four” comes with a foil embossed slip cover case.  Also, included is a DVD presented in widescreen 1:85:1 – enhanced for 16×9 televisions, audio in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 DVS, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish.  Also, included is a digital copy of the feature film which works with iTunes and Windows Media Player.

If you loved stories that remind you of the “X-Men”, “Spider-Man”, “Starman” or even other superheroes of one finding their own superhuman abilities, you can’t help but enjoy “I Am Number Four”.

While this may not be the deepest superhero or sci-fi action film, in these years of where people go crazy for the romantic element of “Twilight” or young heroes ala “The Chronicles of Narnia”, DreamWorks was definitely capitalizing on the popularity of these films.

And because of the fact that it’s not based on a comic book series but a more recent novel, the commercials made you want to watch.  It has a comic book-esque type of storyline of heroes sent to Planet Earth to live a normal life (ala “Superman” and “Dragon Ball”) and along the way they start to discover their powers as they grow older.  But these heroes, these younger individuals are the hunted. For me, when your protagonists are the ones to be hunted, it definitely changes the dynamics of the banal superhero-like storyline.

I did enjoy the camaraderie of “I Am Number Four” and its teenage storyline actually works well. But the problem is the actual plot as the film tries to get into character development and the actual battles with the Mongadorians while avoiding basic storyline elements of why are these aliens becoming hunted?  Why are they doing it in numeric order  What happened to #1?  And why does a certain person show up at the end of the film and tries to play nice?  There are quite a number of loose ends that really don’t make sense at all.   But because there is so much action, you forget the storyline’s problems and focus on the actual fight scenes of the film.

In a way, it’s almost deja vu  because D.J. Caruso was criticized for “Eagle Eye” being all glitz and action and not so much focus on the overall storyline.  And even producer Michael Bay gets flack for his films being less story-driven and more special effects glitz and all-out action with the “Transformer” films.

Now granted, I am a reviewer that is a bit more lenient to popcorn action films and the same applies to “I Am Number Four” and yes, even Bay’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”…

While I know that the film was targeting a teenage/young adult audience, in my mind, my mind was coming back to certain scenes of what if more people died in the film?  What if the Mogadarians were more like the Predators or Aliens who are cold, calculating and vicious?  But we that side of their lack of compassion towards humanity or any other race.

I then started to think… What about the other #’s?  What about the other Mogadarians?  How did Number Six find Number Four?  Were guardians really that weak? Would a high school teenager with no money like Sam really make the decision like he did at the end?  Now, I tend to be analytic towards popcorn action films, when in reality, you know that you shouldn’t.  You just take what you see and you either love it or hate it.

Personally, there are a lot of things that needed to be fleshed out in the storyline of “I Am Number Four”.   But instead, the viewer is taken on a ride of action after action and in many ways, it becomes too much of a popcorn action film.

A film that doesn’t require anyone to be logical, nor does it require anyone to think so much.  I just felt that there are moments that I felt the film took the easy route and no one really dies in the film.  And when you have these aliens like the Mogadarians, there should be death wherever these beasts are at.  Granted, the film was going for a PG-13 rating but the film could still have been deep or meaningful without having an ending that was too sugarcoated.  Especially with the scene with the character of Mark, I kept saying to myself, “shouldn’t he be dead”?

Oh well, “I Am Number Four” is what it is and you either enjoy it or you don’t.  But I will say that “I Am Number Four” is much more entertaining than a few comic book-inspired films that I have seen in the last decade and in the right hands, I feel that the sequel can definitely be better.

As for the Blu-ray release, there is a 3-Disc Combo Pack with a DVD and Digital Copy version of the film, a single Blu-ray version and a downloadable version.  For the 3-Disc Combo Pack that I am reviewing, while PQ is good and the lossless soundtrack is much better, I was hoping for much more special features than what was included on the Blu-ray release.  No audio commentary but you do get deleted scenes with intro by director DJ Caruso, one featurette on Number Six and bloopers.

Overall, “I Am Number Four: 3-Disc Combo Pack” is a bit weak on the special features side but if you do enjoy the film, you get a DVD and Digital Copy version which comes in handy as summer vacation is around the corner and you want something to watch on your iPad or laptop during a commute.  While not exactly a stellar release, I did enjoy the film and expect the sequel to be much better.

Wanting a fun sci-fi action film that requires no heavy thinking and mostly pure action and special effects?  Definitely give “I Am Number Four” a try!

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