I Am Number Four: As with the recently departed CW series Smallville, Number Four ties together a few different heroic narrative cliches – an alien refugee (Alex Pettyfer) trying to blend into small town America and finds a potential love interest (Diana Agron) but finds his bucolic existence by the malevolent invaders who displaced his people – into an unsatisfying whole. Four’s old story. A version of it has been used for many adaptations of the Superman comic book and elements of it come into play during Luke Skywalker’s journey and this movie is less successful than either of those franchises. That basic inability to inspire makes Number Four a failure. It wasn’t designed to be a classic novel and film, it was created by young novelist Jobie Hughes and calculating fabulist James Frey to be a profitable multimedia property using familiar bits of Western pop culture welded onto a Joseph Campbell structure for maximum effect. No surprising twists or nuanced characterization are injected into the duo’s boilerplate story by any of the film’s three credited screenwriters and there’s no visual flair in director DJ Caruso’s 5 Gum commercial flavored direction. And this wasn’t some overly expensive wanna be video game like Battle: Los Angeles. This was a mid-range tentpole produced by Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay, two men who are better than almost any other filmmakers working today at creating engaging movies. This film is worse than a Asylum mockbuster or an action movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal, its a Big Mac with cold burger patties, stale cheese, wilted lettuce and spoiled sauce. Also starring Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Durand and Callan McAuliffe.
Special Features: Deleted and extended scenes, five featurettes and a blooper reel.
Gnomeo & Juliet: A creatively bankrupt version of William Shakespeare most studied in High School tragedy as poorly animated kids film. On could ask what the point of adapting a work that is known for the beauty of its language and the heartbreak of its ending without either but that’s pulling on the loose threads of a sweater. You could also ask why respectable, above the credits actors like Patrick Stewart, Michael Caine and Maggie Smith would want to participate in low paying, embarrassingly poor quality projects like this when better material is readily available. You could further consider what could drive the possibly competent people at Rocket Pictures to make sub-standard public domain animated movies like this when the fine folks over at Pixar are working some of the finest motion pictures for a family audience ever made. Wouldn’t the constant negative comparisons and middling box office returns drive the producers to either up their game significantly or get out of the business entirely? Its weird to luxuriate in inferiority right? It’s best not to ponder the things like this when considering Gnomeo. It really just comes down to whether or not you think your kid’s attention will be held by this film while you and your significant other try to make a long overdue date night happen. Also starring James McAvoy, Emily Blunt and Jason Statham.
Special Features: Two featurettes and music video.
All of the releases mentioned here have links to their respective Amazon pages but you can also visit Cleveland area Blockbusters, Family Videos, and redboxes for these and other new releases.
Mario blogs regularly at A Polemic Killer Room.