I love independent film. A long time ago, in the time of dragons, I used to want to make movies myself. So when I see something special, I feel like it’s my job as a film nerd to plug the hell out of it. I’m elated excited to bring you an interview with Mr. Nicholas McCarthy who just recently returned from Sundance 2011 in support of his moody thriller “The Pact”. Growing up on horror films it takes a lot to make the hair on my arms stand up and having recently watched The Pact, I can say with total sincerity that Mr. McCarthy has the directing chops to scare the crap out of you.
I Am Number Four: The Nerd Appropriate Review
Directed by D.J. Caruso, I am Number Four follows the adventures of teenage alien “John Smith” on the run from evil, and on the hunt for love. John is one of nine super-beings that crash landed on Earth following the destruction of their home planet (think Superman). Along for the ride is his stoic and somewhat salty guardian Henri, played by the always scowling Timothy Olyphant. We find out early on that Henri’s role is to watch over John until his super human abilities begin to surface (Think Buffy). Within the first few minutes we discover that numbers 1-3 have been killed by an alien race determined to wipe out all life on Earth (duh). However, before they can take down Earth they have to kill the remaining 6 guardians. Yes, it sounds like the plot to a Saturday morning cartoon… but, it works.
- “The last 30 minutes of the film contain an action sequence so amazing, I can say with total sincerity that it far surpasses other super hero films like Iron Man and X-men…It eats them alive”.
The Direction – D.J. Caruso is not a name you may instantly know, however he is very capable director with a great track record (Salton Sea, Disturbia, and Eagle Eye). While none of those films were exactly “classics”, they weren’t half bad either. It should also be noted that Caruso is linked to both Y The Last Man and Dead Space… So get to know him.
The Universe – While it seemed a bit convoluted and juvenile at points I found myself interested in this new world they created. Who were numbers 5-9? What sort of powers did they have? What the hell are those Vorcha looking bat things? They definitely had some original ideas here.
Timothy Olyphant – Channeling a frantic Kyle Reese, Timothy Olyphant does a great job as John’s guardian and mentor. He walks funny.
The Effects – The movie looks gorgeous. Some of the CG is honestly the best I’ve seen in recent years. The team needs to get commended for some of the crazy stuff they pulled off. A great mix of practical effects as well as CG.
The Action – Say what you will about Michael Bay, but the man knows action. Michael Bay was acting as producer on this project and something tells me he had some input in the final act. The last 30 minutes of the film contain an action sequence so amazing, I can say with total sincerity that it far surpasses other super hero films like Iron Man and X-men…It eats them alive.
The Dog – I can’t give it away, but John’s pet dog is great. That’s all i’m at liberty to discuss.
NOT NERD APPROPRIATE
Space Twilight? – The first hour of the film is essentially the plot to Superman and Spider-Man combined with Twilight. They even go as far as saying that once someone of his race falls in love “it’s forever”. That line was written specifically for 15 year old girls.
Costume Design – The main enemies look a little bit like deranged cos-players that dressed up like John Lithgow’s character from Bukaroo Banzi.
Cool guys don’t look at explosions – There is a sequence where one of the characters slowly walks away from an exploding building and does not flinch as the building is blown to cinders. Really guys, we’ve seen this before.
A trilogy? – On the way out of the theater my wife said “I don’t want to have to see I am Number Four Number Two”. And she’s right. Studios are brave to produce films that part of a larger overarching story. Many questions go unanswered, and seeing how ticket sales were down a whopping 30% this weekend from last year, it looks like we many never get to see what happens.
Final Verdict – I liked it. I would actually pay to see a trilogy of films set in this universe. I think Number Four suffered from what I like to call “origin syndrome”. Sometimes its better to start the story where the hero already has his powers and his mission, that way we don’t have to sit through that hour long process of him “learning to cope” with his newfound abilities. If you like super heroes and science fiction , it’s an incredibly tolerable adventure.