I Am Number Four

February 18, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer
Directed by: D.J. Caruso (“Eagle Eye”)
Written by: Alfred Gough (TV’s “Smallville”), Miles Millar (TV’s “Smallville”), Marti Noxon (TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”)

Give author James Frey some credit. Not many people could battle the media beast that is Oprah Winfrey and live to write another day. If memory doesn’t serve, Frey fibbed about the facts of a memoir a few years ago and received a severe tongue lashing from O after she placed it on her esteemed book club list. Since then, Frey has dusted himself off and now sets his sights on penning the next series young adult blockbusters.

The venture is off to a terribly shaky start with his first effort, “I Am Number Four,” a sci-fi novel turned unimpressive motion picture directed by D.J. Caruso (“Eagle Eye”) in an attempt to fill the void left behind by a commercial success like “The Twilight Saga.” While Frey was quoted as saying he didn’t “want to write books that look like other people’s books” after his literary fracas subsided, the film adaptation of “Four” suggests him a liar again.

Replace the melodramatic vampires and werewolves with some equally angsty extraterrestrials and “Four” is an obvious imitation with faint originality. Set in small town Ohio, newcomer Alex Pettyfer plays John Smith, a teenager who happens to be one of the last nine aliens left from his destroyed planet. Along with a gang of Romulan rejects (they’re actually called Mogadorians) in black trench coats hunting them down in numerical order, John (No. 4) is also caught up in high school politics when he falls for the popular artsy girl and pisses off the quarterback.

It’s no surprise the film’s screenwriters are the same team behind the TV series “Smallville.” John might be a hybrid of a young Superman and a sparkling blood sucker, but it’s a moot point nonetheless. There’s absolutely nothing heroic about a squeaky-clean kid who shoots light from his palms and exhibits as much personality as a cardboard cutout.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

August 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Maria Bello, Jet Li
Directed by: Rob Cohen (“The Fast and the Furious”)
Written by: Alfred Gough (“Spider-Man 2”) and Miles Millar (“Spider-Man 2”)

When one of the characters in the third installment of The Mummy saga declares “I’ve seen enough mummies to last a lifetime!” you can’t help but giggle at the fitting statement and wonder why execs at Universal Pictures didn’t get the memo. Mummies are the monsters in yesterday, so making room for another archeological dig is probably just the studio’s way of simply shaking every grain of sand from Brendan Fraser’s lucrative boots.

Fraser is back as tomb raider Rick O’Connell, but neither director nor leading lady returns to round out the trilogy. Instead, Stealth’s Rob Cohen replaces director Stephen Sommers and Maria Bello takes over for Rachel Weisz. In this chapter, the team, which includes Rick’s son, Alex (Luke Ford), travels to China to stop a cursed emperor (Jet Li) and his stone army from unearthining and seeking eternal life.

Like the first two unmemorable albeit money-making adventures, Emperor relies heavily on special effects to divert the audience’s attention from the film’s misplaced and scanty humor, action sequences, and dialogue. An example of all three: a yak vomiting on someone’s face, an Abominable Snowman using a human as a football to kick a field goal, and Bello’s Egyptologist character proclaiming “There’s something incredibly romantic about vanquishing the undead.” If rotting corpses and three-headed dragons don’t make your heart flutter, then file, er, bury this one, a mediocre movie only a – dare I say – mummy could love.