DVD Release Date: May 24, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: February 18, 2011
Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, and for language)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Adaptation, Science Fiction
Run Time: 104 min.
Director: D.J. Caruso
Actors: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron, Teresa Palmer, Callan McAuliffe, Kevin Durand, Jake Abel

If you can get past the ludicrous set-up, you might find I Am Number Four, from director D.J. Caruso (Disturbia), has few things working in its favor. It looks derivative—a bit of Twilight, a bit of X-Men—and its best-known actor starred in the lamentable Hitman. On the positive, it's executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, who also executive-produced Caruso's previous film, Eagle Eye.

This time, director Michael Bay (Transformers) also gets an executive producer credit. Whether that's viewed as a mark in the movie's favor, or a strike against it, will depend on one's tolerance for the loud, hyper Bay-style special effects and action that dominate the final third of I Am Number Four.

But first, viewers have to sit through a rather lame set-up. John (Alex Pettyfer) is—well, he's number four. That means he's the fourth in a line of targeted aliens hiding out on earth from those who want to kill them. After learning that number three has been killed, John and his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant) flee to Paradise, Ohio. The killers are called Mogadorians, and they have distinctive head-markings that indicate they're not human. So they usually walk around town with their heads covered in hoods. Except for the one time they left their heads uncovered when out in broad daylight. Coincidentally, no one's around to notice. Maybe the Mogadorians checked first?

Henri's sole duty is to keep John one step ahead of his enemies, and the efforts seem to be taking a toll on the older man. He scowls throughout the film, especially when John refuses to take his advice about keeping a low profile. Tired of always hiding, John enrolls in a local high school, where he meets and falls for Sarah (Dianna Agron). Sarah likes John, too, although she's still trying to shake off her bully of an ex-boyfriend, Mark (Jake Abel).

The romance between John and Sarah isn't anything we haven't seen before—many, many times before—but after the choppy set-up to the story, the stock romance comes across as rather sweet. There's also a nerdy student, Sam (Callan McAuliffe), who gets bullied by Mark and defended by John. No offense to nerds, but that's kind of dull. On top of all that, John has superpowers he's just discovering, and that's kind of predictable.

It all plays out as expected, leading to a confrontation between John and his alien tormenters, with the other students playing key roles. The most potentially interesting character, introduced late in the film, is a mysterious blonde-haired, take-no-prisoners fighter who becomes John's biggest asset—and a potential focal point for future films in this series. However, the fact that she commands more interest by the end of I Am Number Four than does the lead character may say something about Pettyfer's leading-man qualities. It's hard to say, given that no character gets a chance to upstage the barrage of special-effects driven brawling that provides the climax to I Am Number Four. If it's Michael Bay-style action you want from the movie, you have to wait until the finale for the wow-factor.