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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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Robert Bellarmine: When Robert Bellarmine was ordained in 1570, the study of Church history and the fathers of the Church was in a sad state of neglect. A promising scholar from his youth in Tuscany, he devoted his energy to these two subjects, as well as to Scripture, in order to systematize Church doctrine against the attacks of the Protestant Reformers. He was the first Jesuit to become a professor at Louvain. 
<p>His most famous work is his three-volume <i>Disputations on the Controversies </i><em>of the Christian Faith</em>. Particularly noteworthy are the sections on the temporal power of the pope and the role of the laity. He incurred the anger of monarchists in England and France by showing the divine-right-of-kings theory untenable. He developed the theory of the indirect power of the pope in temporal affairs; although he was defending the pope against the Scottish philosopher Barclay, he also incurred the ire of Pope Sixtus V. </p><p>Bellarmine was made a cardinal by Pope Clement VIII on the grounds that "he had not his equal for learning." While he occupied apartments in the Vatican, Bellarmine relaxed none of his former austerities. He limited his household expenses to what was barely essential, eating only the food available to the poor. He was known to have ransomed a soldier who had deserted from the army and he used the hangings of his rooms to clothe poor people, remarking, "The walls won't catch cold." </p><p>Among many activities, he became theologian to Pope Clement VIII, preparing two catechisms which have had great influence in the Church. </p><p>The last major controversy of Bellarmine's life came in 1616 when he had to admonish his friend Galileo, whom he admired. Bellarmine delivered the admonition on behalf of the Holy Office, which had decided that the heliocentric theory of Copernicus (the sun as stationary) was contrary to Scripture. The admonition amounted to a caution against putting forward—other than as a hypothesis—theories not yet fully proved. This shows that saints are not infallible. </p><p>Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. The process for his canonization was begun in 1627 but was delayed until 1930 for political reasons, stemming from his writings. In 1930, Pope Pius XI canonized him and the next year declared him a doctor of the Church.</p> American Catholic Blog The joy of the Lord is our strength. Therefore, each of us will accept a life of poverty in cheerful trust. We will minister to Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor with cheerful devotion. If our work is done with joy, we will have no reason to be unhappy.

 
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