The few surviving members of a species of good-looking aliens have taken refuge on Earth following the extinction of their home world at the hands of a rival, but far uglier, group of aliens. These intergalactic refugees want little more than to blend in with our society, but, unfortunately for them, the ugly aliens are on their scent and eager to reduce their population one by one. Enter John (Alex Pettyfer), handsome alien number four. John's trying to live a normal life, spending his nights with his mentor refugee, Henri (Timothy Olyphant), and his days attending public high school. Then one day things get hairy when John hits super-power puberty, which coincidentally is right when his number comes up on the ugly aliens' chopping block.
Make no bones about it, 'I Am Number Four' is the kind of movie that a thirteen-year old can fall in love with, but that most adults will, let's be honest, probably pass right by. That's not exactly a knock on the film, though. After all, teenagers are the exact market for young adult sci-fantasy like this. They can safely see themselves in the broad themes of loneliness and trying to discover what makes themselves special, blissfully oblivious to the fact that D.J. Caruso's film is filled with genre archetypes that have been well-mined for decades.
The names and scenarios may have been changed to protect the borrowed templates, but if you've been exposed to any YA fiction in recent years, be it 'Percy Jackson,' 'Cirque du Freak,' 'Under the Mountain,' 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' or 'Smallville,' then you'll be instantly familiar with everything in 'I Am Number Four.' But thanks to an affable cast, a brisk script and a go-big-or-go-home finale, the familiarity is less a distracting pain and more a dull throb you can learn to live with.