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Ghost Canyon

'I Am Number Four' (Three-Disc Combo)
(Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron, Teresa Palmer, Callan McAuliffe, et al / 3-Disc Blu ray+DVD / PG-13 / 2011 / Dreamworks)

Overview: Three are dead. Who is Number four? From Director D.J. Caruso (Disturbia), producer Michael Bay (Transformers) and the Emmy-winning writers of TV's Smallville, comes this gripping, action-packed thriller. John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is an extraordinary teen masking his true identity to elude a deadly enemy sent to destroy him.

Blu ray/DVD Verdict: 'John Smith' is an alien teenager from the planet Lorien. He is one of nine kids that survived his planet's destruction, and the kids have all been sent to Earth to be raised by their warrior guardians. For reasons not explained in the film, the evil Mogadorians must kill the special kids in their numerical order, and John is Number Four, which gains extra significance when it's revealed that the first three have been killed. John is next, and he'll never get to use his budding powers to save Earth if his guardian Henri can't help him keep a low profile and stay off the Mogs' radar.

Nothing new here, but it's a lot better than I expected. I saw a lot of CGI in the trailer and thought it would be an ungainly movie with a bunch of explosions that added nothing to the story, but the action is really nicely handled. There's enough punching, kicking, shooting, and stabbing to keep any audience member interested in what's happening on screen, though the villains are a bit lacking. The trouble with the Mogs is, we don't know why they're world destroyers. They look kind of goofy and they get little moments of over-the-top violence just to prove they're actually a threat, but I don't know why they're attacking the Lorien kids or why they'd want to conquer Earth. I know it's just a popcorn flick, but I love it when the bad guys have some kind of motivation.

John goes to a new school and he tries to ease into the shadows because Henri has pounded it into his head that he must blend in. But John can't blend, of course. He's too heroic not to defend the helpless nerd Sam when he is bullied, and too lonely not to fall for outcast photographer Sarah. John's powers start developing (glowing hands!) and his problems multiply (angry quarterbacks!), and he's not prepared for the big showdown with the Mogs until Number Six rides in on her shiny red motorcycle to aid him. While John has been blending, Six has been training to be James Bond, apparently, and all of Six's fight scenes are immensely cool.

Six, played by Theresa Palmer, is sassy and has a chip on her shoulder, so we're not supposed to like her 100% but we are supposed to go "wow" whenever she's on the move. Sam, John's new friend who has an interest in the extraterrestrial, is a great but underutilized character. Callan McAuliffe, the actor who plays Sam, could very well have a great future ahead of him because his emotions are very real and his comic timing is excellent. He's like a young, less nervous Michael Cera.

Dianna Agron plays John's human love interest Sarah, and I only just now discovered that she's a popular television actress because I am the only person in America who has not seen Glee. Her performance bothered me early on because she's playing an artsy outcast, yet I could see her being a mean-spirited cheerleader just as easily. After a while she grew on me, and her character gets sweeter and more relatable as the movie progresses.

Timothy Olyphant is John's foster father/guardian/protector/mentor and he has a few funny moments. John keeps reminding Henri that he's not his dad, and Olyphant accordingly plays Henri like a much older, frequently ticked-off big brother. He skewers John for his mistakes but has a deep affection for him. Also, Olyphant's portraying himself like a younger version of Billy Bob Thornton in this movie.

I don't know it it was intentional, but it's there. Mr. Pettyfer himself is just a regular sort of guy in this movie. He's quiet and reactive rather than proactive--a Luke Skywalker type without too much whining. He does his job creditably, though I don't quite believe his grief scenes.

'I Am Number Four' is never boring, and if you don't mind the cheesy villains and lack of motivation, then you'll have a fun two hours. [TH] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

• Becoming Number 6
• Bloopers

1-Disc BD & 3-Disc BD Combo Pack (includes all DVD bonus PLUS):
• 6 Deleted Scenes, with introductions by Director D.J. Caruso
o Extended Strangers in Paradise
o Sam's Mom
o Worth Mentioning
o Power Prank
o Trying to Connect
o Extended Warsaw Basement

Behind-the-Scenes Still Slideshow