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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

I Am Number Four

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

The occasionally moving teen drama "I Am Number Four" (DreamWorks) can perhaps best be described as the UFO version of the "Twilight" franchise.

And indeed the alien-human romance at the heart of this story is—like the vampire-mortal relationship around which the "Twilight" saga revolves—innocent enough to be acceptable for targeted younger viewers. But other factors at play in director D.J. Caruso's adaptation of a novel by Pittacus Lore, including some hyper-violent action and vulgar language, are far less suited to that much-pursued demographic.

While our hero—a hunky interplanetary refugee who goes by the blend-into-the-background alias John Smith (Alex Pettyfer)—may have numerous problems, resembling E.T. is not one of them.

John has come to earth to prevent its colonization by the Mogadorians, a race of evil creatures (led by Kevin Durand) who took over his home planet, slaughtering the native population in the process. (You can tell they're the bad guys because they're ugly and have bad teeth.)

Though John's powers are increasing—he's number four, we learn, in a group of elite warriors bred up to defeat the Mogadorians—for the moment he's too weak to confront the enemy directly. So, in the company of his protective guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant), he's perpetually on the run, evading his foes and hoping to make contact with the other members of his corps who have also arrived on Earth.

When John and Henri's wanderings bring them to the small Rust Belt town of Paradise, Ohio, John enrolls in the local high school where he quickly falls for comely classmate Sarah (Dianna Agron)—no Mogadorian she, to be sure.

John also befriends Sam (Callan McAuliffe), a persecuted nerd whose claim that his dad was abducted by celestial visitors makes him a target for football captain and BMOC Mark (Jake Abel).

Of course, the Mogadorians are in hot pursuit all the while, and the timely arrival of the otherwise unnamed Number Six (Teresa Palmer) sets the stage for an overheated, highly destructive—though generally bloodless—final showdown.

The few affecting moments in "I Am Number Four" are those portraying John's sense of isolation, as he unwillingly moves from place to place, and his understandable desire to rebel against the seemingly overzealous Henri, both of which parallel more mundane adolescent angst. The love story and explosive confrontations, by contrast, are strictly boilerplate.

The film contains much intense but largely gore-free combat, a few uses of profanity, a bit of vaguely scatological humor, at least a dozen instances of crude language and about half that many crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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John of Capistrano: It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events. 
<p>Imagine being born in the 14th century. One-third of the population and nearly 40 percent of the clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western Schism split the Church with two or three claimants to the Holy See at one time. England and France were at war. The city-states of Italy were constantly in conflict. No wonder that gloom dominated the spirit of the culture and the times. </p><p>John Capistrano was born in 1386. His education was thorough. His talents and success were great. When he was 26 he was made governor of Perugia. Imprisoned after a battle against the Malatestas, he resolved to change his way of life completely. At the age of 30 he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was ordained a priest four years later. </p><p>His preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion. </p><p>The Franciscan Order itself was in turmoil over the interpretation and observance of the Rule of St. Francis. Through John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the "Spirituals" were freed from interference in their stricter observance. </p><p>He helped bring about a reunion with the Greek and Armenian Churches, unfortunately only a brief arrangement. </p><p>When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, he was commissioned to preach a crusade for the defense of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. He led the army to Belgrade. Under the great General John Hunyadi, they gained an overwhelming victory, and the siege of Belgrade was lifted. Worn out by his superhuman efforts, Capistrano was an easy prey to an infection after the battle. He died October 23, 1456.</p> American Catholic Blog When we are linked by the power of prayer, we as it were, hold each other’s hand as we walk side by side along a slippery path; and thus by the bounteous disposition of charity, it comes about that the harder each one leans on the other, the more firmly we are riveted together in brotherly love. —St. Gregory the Great

 
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