'I Am Number Four': The Reviews Are In!

Sci-fi flick might not be treading new ground, but it's sure to make a box-office impact.

This weekend brings the year's first major sci-fi release to the multiplex, and audiences should be flocking to it after weeks of tepid rom-coms and half-baked horror flicks. "I Am Number Four," though weakly reviewed, stands to win the top spot at the box office over the four-day holiday.

"Unknown" and "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son," alas, don't stand a chance. Which one is right for you? Or, perhaps, is now the time to avoid the new offerings and hit the Oscar faves ahead of next weekend's Academy Awards? Check out what the critics are saying about "I Am Number Four" and decide for yourself.

The Story

"Since space creatures don't arrive with the traditional backstories of vampires and werewolves, the story of extraterrestrial conflict and teenage longing requires a little setup. John Smith (Alex Pettyfer), a new transfer student to the high school in Paradise, Ohio, arrives with more than the usual adolescent baggage. He is one of a handful of children surviving a space war. His ancestors, the people of Lorien, were all but exterminated by the evil Mogadorians. The remaining nine fled to Earth, where their Abercrombie & Fitch looks make them stand out while trying to blend in. The Mogadorians, a black-trench-coat Mafia with bald heads and tribal tattoos, are on their trail, out to finish the genocide. They already have killed Numbers One, Two and Three. Which means John is up next." — Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune

The "Twilight" Comparison

" 'I Am Number Four,' the appealing new kid-on-the-teen-angst block, reverberates with much of the same dark combustible mix of action and romance that's been fueling the 'Twilight' vampire mega-franchise for a while now. The issues of the heart have shifted from the undead to the otherworldly, and the battles have been amped up considerably, but its fate still rests on the basic boy-meets-girls story, which frankly could use a bit more bite." — Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

The Action

"The screenplay by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar — adapting the young adult novel by James Frey and Jobie Hughes — works a few surprises into the familiar high school scenario; an action scene set at a haunted house goes in some unexpected directions, and the more we learn about Number Four's outer space world, the stranger and more entertaining it gets (that pet beagle is not what he seems). But as 'I Am Number Four' ramps up toward the inevitable third-act fireballs and fights, any out-there appeal gets washed out by lots of CGI and pretty girls walking slowly away from explosions (Teresa Palmer, who shows up late as the alien Number Six, makes for a great bad-girl black swan to [Dianna] Agron's buttoned-up Sarah). By the end it's even turned into a kind of 'Spider-Man' knockoff, a young man standing in a graveyard, contemplating the meaning of his newfound great power and responsibility." — Katey Rich, Cinema Blend

The Dissenters

" 'I Am Number Four' is mostly a missed opportunity. The film plugs into some genuine teen angst and identity confusion that might have dovetailed nicely with its sci-fi elements. Instead these two realities, a high school with its many melodramas and aliens chasing each other around the country, operate on parallel tracks. At times it feels like the reels from two very different movies got mixed up in the projection booth. The idea here is nifty; the execution mostly pedestrian." — Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter

The Final Word

" 'I Am Number Four' is a well-made, reasonably diverting night at the multiplex that will seem overly familiar to everyone except teenage girls. It'll be a retread to them, too, but that's why they'll like it — a sci-fi/fantasy drama that's moody and broody to the point of occasional near-coma, 'Number Four' represents an acceptable holding action until the next installment of 'Twilight' rolls around." — Ty Burr, Boston Globe

Check out everything we've got on "I Am Number Four."

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