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Movie Review

I Am Number Four

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for brief language.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Sci-Fi Action Teen Adaptation
1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
February 18, 2011 (wide—3,000+ theaters)
DVD: May 24, 2011
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Aliens (extraterrestrials)

What does the Bible say about intelligent life on other planets? Answer

Are we alone in the universe? Answer

Does Scripture refer to life in space? Answer

questions and answers about the origin of life

Teen Qs™—Christian Answers for teenagers
Teens! Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
Featuring: Dianna Agron (Sarah), Timothy Olyphant (Henri), Alex Pettyfer (Number Four), Teresa Palmer (Number Six), Kevin Durand (Mog Commander), more »
Director: D.J. Caruso—“Disturbia
Producer: DreamWorks Pictures, Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg, more »
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

“from the director of ‘Disturbia’”

I’m sure many of us have watched television, seen a preview for a movie and said, “Is that movie even worth seeing?” That was my initial reaction when I first saw the previews for “I Am Number Four.” I wasn’t sure what I was signing up for when I decided to volunteer for this movie. However, I will say that, after viewing “I Am Number Four,” I’m glad that I decided to see this movie, despite the very disappointing previews.

The previews pretty much gave away the story, unfortunately. The story begins with Number 3, a Magadonian alien from the planet Lorian, being killed by a group of alien criminals known as the Mogs (each alien represents a number and must be destroyed in order). We are then introduced to our protagonist, John and his protector Henrie. Number 4 (aka John Smith) is also a Magadonian alien who’s always on the run from the Mogs, knowing full well that he is the next person to die. The only way John will be able to defeat the Mogs is if he, and the mysterious Number 6, gather the other five Magadonians (scattered all over Earth) to stop the Mogs from taking over the Earth.

Look, previews can either do one of two things. They can give away too much information and ruin the actual film, or they can give you just enough to peak your curiosity. When I saw the previews for this movie, I’ll admit, I was intrigued. The whole premise of the movie was kept under wraps, since it was first introduced to the public. I had read various comments from critics and other movie Web sites concerning this film, and this movie was not spoken of highly. I, honestly, didn’t believe I was going to like this film, at first, let alone enjoy it. So, imagine my surprise when I walked out of the film saying, “Whoah!”

The plot is fairly simple. I didn’t have to sit there with my clipboard and scratch my head like I usually do when I see a movie. The performances by both Alex Pettyfer and Diana Agron are unbelievable. The chemistry between their two characters is just right, and I actually believed what they feel for each other. Though they’re few scenes where CGI is used, the scenes that do contain them are used with the highest quality of CGI I have seen since “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Violence: With any science-fiction film like “I Am Number Four,” there is always a good amount of violence. In this case, “I Am Number Four” contains a heavy amount of violence. Aside from Number 3 being killed at the beginning of the film, there are scenes involving major explosions, gun fights, stabbings, people being tossed around like stuffed animals, etc. There is so much violence in this film, mainly towards the end, that I cannot even list all of it.

Sex/Nudity: This is the only area of content where there isn’t much that I was concerned about. There are a couple scenes where John (Alex Pettyfer) and Sara (Diana Agron) kiss, but those scenes are brief. There is a scene at the beach where women are running around in cleavage-baring swimsuits. Lastly, I noticed a scene where John is having dinner with Sara and her parents, and they make a mild, sexual joke.

Profanity: I thought, especially for a teen movie with a PG-13 rating, that the profanity is relatively moderate. The most objectionable are 2 OMGs and 4 uses of “Jesus.” There is also vulgarity, including the word a** used on several occasions as well as sh*t, sh*t-hole, “tool,” and “p*ssy.”

At the beginning, and even towards the end, the whole film focuses on bullying and running away from problems. Bullying is a huge problem in many schools, today. According to sources, over half the children who are bullied in school are unlikely to report it to a teacher, the principal, or any other authority figure. In the movie, John has spent most of his life with Henrie, running away from their problems and from their bullies, the Mogs. At some point, John realizes that running away isn’t solving any problems, but only making matters worse.

For Christians, when we are faced with bullies and enemies, rejoice! Jesus told us to rejoice in times of persecution and when “men revile us for His Sake.” When Jesus was sitting in the prison, awaiting to crucifixion, the soldiers mocked him, beat him, and placed a crown of thorns on his head. He could’ve run. He could’ve called down a legion of angels to take him away from this abuse. But he didn’t. He trusted in God and knew that God was with Him and would protect him, and that, in the end, God would be victorious. Jesus said to his apostles:

“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you, and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets” —Luke 6:22-23 (New International Version).

From a Christian perspective, sadly, I cannot recommend this film, because of the heavy amount of violence. This is definitely not a children’s movie, so parents, think twice before taking the children, or better yet, hire a babysitter. Mature teens and adults who enjoy a good science-fiction movie will definitely want to see this.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie. It was a cross between “Twilight,” “Race to Witch Mountain,” and superhero flicks. The acting was all believable (especially Callan McAuliffe, one of my new favorite actors), and the effects were awesome. There wasn’t much content, just a few s-words and a few impalings and blood. One implied torture scene disturbed me a little, but it was very short. All in all, I would recommend it to action-loving teenagers.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Ellie Henson, age 18 (USA)
Positive—Better then average sci-fi flick… a bit of a love story thrown in to keep the dramatic effect balanced against the special effects… Profanity is light, with a couple of unfortunate instances of “Jesus” used to make sure the rating was not a PG… The violence in this movie is related to the plot, and is expected… This is not a G rated film, and the violence is not bloody, nor is it gratuitous, however, it is intense at times, so the PG-13 is necessary. There is no sex in the movie, either literal or implied, which is refreshing… and there is a sense of good vs. Evil that is used as a subplot.

All in all this is a 16 and over movie that is worth a look… and obviously there will be a sequel… The acting is average +, the characters are not deep, but not silly, and the soundtrack works very well, thanks to Trevor Rabin.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Elena, age 34
Positive—“I Am Number 4” is an adaptation of the novel of the same name. I have not read the book, so I cannot speak to its accuracy, but I will say this, the movie was great, one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. The story goes that John Smith is an alien from another planet. He and nine others are hiding from another alien species that killed their planet. The first three are killed, and John is Number Four. Not very original, but still very compelling.

Content for concern was the foul language, which was not extensive, but very present. The violence is that typical of a sci-fi action, but not particularly bloody or gruesome. As far as sexual content, there were some kissing scenes, but that is about it. The violence in the movie was very intense, with punching, grappling, gun fire, laser fire, and creature violence. Some might be offended about the idea of life on other planets, but this is a fictional story.

All in all, this film is great, and I recommend for young adults.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Jacob Airey, age 22 (USA)
Positive—I’m disappointed to see this film get written off just because of the violence. It’s one of the cleaner sci-fi movies around. Almost all of the violence in this film was mere action. There was very little blood. There is no Biblical reason why a Christian shouldn’t watch this film due to the sci-fi violence. There are some other things to be warned about, though, such as some language. There is nothing really sexual, just kissing and some flirtatious behavior. The most violence scene was the haunted hayride at the fair, and admittedly, that scene did have offensive violence. Which is why I’m knocking the moral rating down to Average. Otherwise, this is a very teen-friendly and enjoyable film. It starts off a bit slow, but just wait. It gets really dazzling.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Gabriel Mohler, age 26 (USA)
Neutral—I saw this movie with my husband. We were not offended by anything we saw, except for the premise that life exists on other planets, which we don’t believe and which the Bible does not support. Then again, it was a fictitious movie, so we kept that in mind :) There were violent scenes, but they were comic-book style battles and not particularly blood or gruesome in a real sense. “The Passion of the Christ” is FAR more bloody and gruesome, for example; it really depends on the context of the film. Overall, “I Am Number Four” was pretty entertaining. It was not the best film I’ve seen lately, but it was certainly not the worst. I don’t think I was the target audience, however! LOL
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Cathy, age 39 (USA)


Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was pretty entertaining, and I enjoyed it. The movie had very few curse words, and the violence was mild, I think I saw blood maybe two times in the whole movie. When the evil “creature,” whatever they are, die the burst into dust, not saying that they don’t bleed first though—there was one kiss in the movie and that was as bad as it got. Overall, I recommend this to anyone 10 and up.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Matt, age 12 (USA)
Negative—We went to see this movie without consulting a review because I read somewhere that it was Disney, not Dreamworks, who was making this movie, and, being sci-fi, we just figured it would be okay. We even took my nine-year-old brother. We were wrong. In fact, we walked out after about 45 minutes. And here’s the objectionable content, from the first 45 minutes:

SEX: Heavy. Near the beginning, there is a high school party on the beach, and apart from all the girls wearing bikinis, boys were ogling the girls, a girl invites Alex Pettyfer to swim with her alone. Of course they start getting closer until they’re interrupted by his power.

VIOLENCE: Not extremely violent, at least of what we saw. ***SPOILER*** Just Number 3 getting killed at the beginning, but nothing is shown. ***END SPOILER***

PROFANITY: This is why we walked out. From the first 45 minutes, there were two uses of “J*sus,” two uses of “a*s-hole,” two uses of “h*ll,” one use of “b*tch,” a couple uses of “a*s,” at least two uses of “sh*t,” and if you want to be strict, “crap” was said at the beginning. All in 45 minutes, maybe even less. The profane uses of the Lord’s name in vain is what disturbed me the most. We can’t call ourselves Christians and think this is okay. It’s disrespectful to our God in every way. It’s even one of the Ten Commandments, for crying out loud!

Besides that, they stressed the teen love triangle waaaay too much than necessary, obviously a ploy to stretch out a movie that had a weak plot and needed help to fill in time. It was padded and just plain stupid. Because really, an alien teenager is running for his life because he’s the next to die, and yet he can’t live without high school to flirt with blonde girls? Not to mention the terrible CGI when it was used. Even the things that weren’t CGI somehow looked CGI. Um… that’s kind of weird.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Audree, age 14 (USA)
Positive—This movie was really good. I went to the movies with some friends and ended up seeing it. The plot was easy to follow, and the movie kept time, so as not to drag the audience through a snooze fest, while trying to develop the characters. I labeled this movie “Better than Average” because, let’s face it, the MPAA rating system is going down the moral tubes. They are allowing movie-makers to push the reaches of the moral envelope farther and farther every year. With romantic comedies such as “No Strings Attached,” or comedies like “The Hangover,” to horror types like “Piranha 3D,” we are constantly being bombarded by foul language, crass humor, to just the shock factor of, “I can’t believe I just saw that!”

That being said, “I Am Number Four” is better than average. Yes, the movie does have some language, a bit of violence, and maybe a few poorly dressed females; all in all, this movie lands its rating perfectly. The violence isn’t over the top, the language is kept to a minimum (consider “The Hangover” and its over 100 f-bombs), and, as for sexual content, it’s really non-existent. Coming from someone whose main problem is the amount of objectionable language in movies, this one is better than average. You can also look into getting a TVG (TV guardian) or a Clearplay machine. We have both and really enjoy them.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Gabriel Carden, age 16 (USA)
Positive—Awesome movie! This movie was truly amazing. It did have some language but nothing to bad. I saw this with my friend and we both loved it. I suggest you see this movie. It wasn’t based on Christianity, but was based on aliens. It did have a story play though. He did learn how to use his powers to help people and for good. Go see this movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Noah, age 13 (USA)
Positive—This movie was surprisingly good! I went to the movie with my dad, as sort of a Daddy-Daughter date. I had heard the book was good, and was definitely not disappointed in the movie! This movie was perfect for someone who likes a bit of everything in a movie. It had plenty of action, a bit of romance and lots of suspense. It had me paying attention the whole time, and I never found myself bored or thinking about the math homework I had waiting for me at home.

This film had almost no sexual comments, only a few swear words that most teens can handle and have heard before. The main actor, Alex Pettyfer did a very good job of portraying Number Four, and his co-star Dianna Agron did not disappoint in the least.

For anyone who wants a good, fast-paced adventure movie and can handle a bit of kissing and some swearing, go see this right away!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Emma, age 14 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—Why would anyone who calls themself a Christian disobey what the scripture says about filthy language, etc.?
—Mike Wilder, age 43 (USA)