Release Date: February 18, 2011
Director: D.J. Caruso
Writer: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Marti NoxonCast: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Argo, Callan McAuliffe, Kevin Duran, Jake Abel, Jeff Hochendoner, Patrick James, Greg Townley, Reuben Langdon, Emily Wickersham, Molly McGinnis, Brian Howe, Andy Owen, Sophia Anne Caruso.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 109 minutes
Studio: DreamWorks SKG, Reliance Big Entertainment, Bay Films
Genre: Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi
Language: English, French
Budget: $50,000,000 (estimated)
Constantly on the run from the villainous Mogadorian aliens, our numbered hero John, finally finds peace in a small Ohio town. With the history of his race being destroyed, he and a handful of other numbered warriors are the only ones left from their now dead planet. Each with their own ability of power, they must unite as one to defeat the Mogadorian’s. Unfortunately the first 3 heroes have already been brutally murdered like cattle and he knows he’s next. Combined with speed, strength, agility, and heart, he must master his own powers for an epic football arena battle royal to the death. The only question is, will it be enough in a war that appears to be inevitable. If you’re under the impression this is another typical high school action drama, containing only ki blasts, special effects, and dumb downed dialogue you’re incorrect. More than anything else I enjoyed the story set up, and the development of each character. I myself could relate to more than one aspect from my younger high school days and I’m sure you will as well.
Out of nine individuals from a distant destroyed planet with unique mystic powers, the first three are dead and number four is next. John (Alex Pettyfer) is number four and while not finding out how to master his powers he hasn’t found a place he can call home as well. Accompanied by his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant) who acts like Johns uncle, they move from town to town when trouble begins to lurk. John has a lot of respect for Henri but doesn’t approve of the short leash he’s placed on him. Henri being much older and wiser knows it’s best and hopes John will realize his important role in the coming war ahead. A soon to be love interest, is Sarah (Dianna Agron) who appears to have everything any teen would want. She has a loving family and good looks, but her ambitions are somewhere else than small town Ohio. Sam (Callan McAuliffe) is another student at high school who is bullied daily. You don’t know his role right off, but he has his time to shock towards the end. Sam’s bullies are lead by the arrogant jock Mark (Jake Abel) who’s insecurities shine brighter than his ego.
Each of these characters complements each other well. Their introductions are not forced and are believable to everyday life. By doing this correctly, it draws you in, interested in a more depth analysis of each character. The only characters I was to completely dissatisfied with were the evil Mogadorians. While their make-up and costumes hit it’s mark, their demeanor did not. Their malicious intent could’ve been more sinister if they didn’t come across goofy at times and picking on humans with the intent of making the audience laugh. Other than that they showed their abilities with high applause towards the end.
Opening with a decent action scene, It’s much appreciated because it’s sets the tone of the film. So with Sam and Henri’s realization that the first three are dead and the Mogadorians are after him, they must drop everything and move on to the next town. In the middle of their move we get a nice view of the country side and a soft narration of John’s history of his race and why the evil Mogadorian’s want to destroy him. It would’ve been nice to see a visual illustration of this pre-history, but the narration with the opening scene lets you know the film will have a great balance of story, characters and action. While John is getting use to his new home, he meets with certain people that make him feel welcome and some with hidden agendas. Wanting to open up to a select few, he knows he can’t due to this responsibility of laying low. What makes the film more fun is Johns emotions start to get the best of him as he cherishes relationships with Sarah and Sam. While not being in complete control of his powers they almost take control of him. He battles with remaining low key, while also learning how to manage his powers, and not go insane all at the same time. One scene with Sarah and John the characters growth hit a home run. While at a dinner table we see that John wants what Sarah has (a loving family and a place to call home), and Sarah on the inverse wants what John has (nothing handed to her and life on the road traveling.) These two hit it off but don’t feel I spoiled anything because I haven’t. What’s impressive is when this is displayed you may assume how the relationship will end up towards the end of the film, but it takes a short turn of the unexpected. After a while John’s not able to hide his true identity anymore, so his secrets out for the town to see. When Henri’s stressing to John that they must leave, John refuses saying his destiny lies here and he’s tired of running. In a away he’s starting to become a man but also blinded by ignorance of not knowing how many people have sacrificed, so that he could live. Mean while Sam is behind corners with his own large piece of the puzzle intertwining the story as it develops. It all comes together in great fashion ending with a nice battle royal with the Mogadorians throughout and in it’s conclusion.
The special effects where impressive throughout the majority of the film. I enjoyed the brilliant display of power and felt it had great scale. From not knowing the first thing of your abilities, to controlling them as easy as breathing had great growth. Though being able to control your powers doesn’t make John the strongest and that is where the challenge is. Showcased from the previews, number six with her cameos throughout the film makes her mark as well with perfect timing. The final showdown is great joined but my only problem with the film is some of the camera work towards the end was to close so you couldn’t make out everything in the action. If this was not an error it would’ve added even more to this epic adventure.
Even if this is not your type of film, I see no reason why majority wouldn’t enjoy this feature. It has a great pace, story, characters we all learn to love, and great action pieces leaving you on the edge of your seat. The hand to hand combat was a delight to see as well, and completely unexpected. On top of that it has a number of comedic moments that’s made it even more entertaining. Again my expectations for this film were high and were met to my satisfaction. With directing from DJ Caruso (Eagle Eye, Disturbia) I knew this picture was in the right hands. I can’t wait for the sequel which I’m more than positive will hit the big screens in the near future. Inviting even a more compelling story, great characters, and effects I’m sure it will succeed. I’m you sure will agree, but this is still just my opinion.