The resolution behind creating the next franchise to storm the planet revolves with an intensity around a cross generational audience. An interesting blend of the new thinking involves Dreamworks’ new distribution deal with Disney. Putting the power of Disney’s marketing with Dreamworks’ inherent overall story prowess has wonderful possibilities if applied to the correct outlay.
The first project out of the gate is the adaptation of “I Am Number 4” produced by Michael Bay and directed by DJ Caruso (“Disturbia”). The notion of the outcast plays heavy here within the overall narrative structure following a young man set apart from his world. Alex Pettyfer, a star on the rise who last tried to breach the game with “Operation: Stormbreaker” for The Weinstein Company, has a good perception of what this kind of anti-hero might bring. Mixing elements of old school Ryan Phillippe with a dash of Pattinson, Pettyfer’s presence moves with cause but forces guard against his mission. In adhering to the book, the gestation of melodrama undeniably slips through into the plot, which for older viewers, might be too jarring in terms of its superficiality.
With its younger demographic and the sleek campaign behind it though, the story of a boy from another world with powers who is on the run has distinct upsides. This underdog motif works especially well because he can both defend his friends and win the girl without alienating either one. The inherent dynamic though that lifts the picture up but is not employed until the very end is the sense of the hidden allies. Granted the groundwork needs to be placed but inherently it seems that Timothy Olymphant (an exceptional actor of late in FX’s “Justified”) does the most he can with the little he has to work with. The opportunity missed with his backstory (and Pettyfer’s) speaks to a loss of dramatic texture for the death of their world. While more expensive, this is lessened for a more practical approach which tends to register less cinematic.
The resolution plays the game hard placing all of the fury into the last minutes with a massive fight and rampage in a high school which is more than pervasive in its ability to show what the overall world of these films could be. However, as is a problem with “Twilight”, the world seems slightly out of reach yet very close to the heart. What tends to create the connection here ironically is done almost through subterfuge. The chimera of all things is the tipping point. Giving away any more would ruin the plot which does point to effective structure. However the reasoning becomes: will a continuing story be one of interest, especially when the overall villains, despite their viciousness, exist with a comedic overbearing which diminishes the film’s backbone. Out of 5, I give “I Am Number Four” a 2.