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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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Apollonia: The persecution of Christians began in Alexandria during the reign of the Emperor Philip. The first victim of the pagan mob was an old man named Metrius, who was tortured and then stoned to death. The second person who refused to worship their false idols was a Christian woman named Quinta. Her words infuriated the mob and she was scourged and stoned. 
<p>While most of the Christians were fleeing the city, abandoning all their worldly possessions, an old deaconess, Apollonia, was seized. The crowds beat her, knocking out all of her teeth. Then they lit a large fire and threatened to throw her in it if she did not curse her God. She begged them to wait a moment, acting as if she was considering their requests. Instead, she jumped willingly into the flames and so suffered martyrdom.</p><p>There were many churches and altars dedicated to her. Apollonia is the patroness of dentists, and people suffering from toothache and other dental diseases often ask her intercession. She is pictured with a pair of pincers holding a tooth or with a golden tooth suspended from her necklace. St. Augustine explained her voluntary martyrdom as a special inspiration of the Holy Spirit, since no one is allowed to cause his or her own death.</p> American Catholic Blog We can find Christ among the despised, voiceless, and forgotten of the world. We have to move beyond that which we wish to ignore and forget about: embrace the seemingly un-embraceable, love the unlovable, and dare to know what we most fear and wish to leave unknowable.

Divine Science Michael Dennin

 
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