If you hold teen movies in the same regard as polystyrene, that Sky News promo for Adam Boulton's show and Irish banks, chances are you weren't planning to be in the queue for 'I Am Number Four'. But anyone with an interest in sci-fi or fantasy should get a kick out of this surprisingly likeable fugitive story, which even has the class to feature Rockwell's 'Somebody's Watching Me' as a ringtone in one scene.
John (Pettyfer) is an alien hiding out in the US - as in boy from space, not boy without a visa. On his home planet of Lorien John was a member of the Garde - chosen children with superpowers. Then mortal enemies the Mogdorians came and destroyed Lorien, forcing John and the other survivors to flee to earth. With bodyguard Henri (Olyphant), John moves from small town to small town, hanging around until the Mogdorians pick up their scent again and they have to abandon everything/one and start over somewhere new.
Their latest hideaway is Paradise, a sleepy little Ohio town but one with more importance than Henri has revealed to John. As Henri goes about his work, John fails to heed his advice to keep a low profile by befriending the school's UFO geek (McAuliffe), falling for a girl in his class ('Glee' star Agron) and getting on the wrong side of the jocks. Soon young love and the creatine crew will be the least of his worries.
Based on the new Pittacus Lore bestseller, 'I Am Number Four' feels like a mash-up involving 'X-Men' and 'Home and Away'. You get a lad with a good jaw line who has spent plenty of hours in the gym, big fellas with bad dental plans who were dressed by 'The Lost Boys', isolation, bullying, tensions between different generations and special effects that deserve the Q mark. While the story moves too fast in places, the characters are likeable and the potential to develop their relationships and world is huge. Caruso also deserves credit for keeping most of his goodies in the box until the very end, making the showdown in the high school even more effective.
There's no shame in leaving the cinema with a sequel on your mind.