I haven't read the book, but from the trailer (below), I had a general idea of what to expect from this. Still, the way the movie was constructed was a little bit surprising.
The movie starts off immediately with instense/suspenseful action sequences. These sequences set the general tone of the movie and also presented the horrors that were hunting "Number Four." After the initial action subsides for a few minutes, we get the basic character rundown and some environment changes to get a feel for the crappy situation "Number Four" (I'm just going to call him FOUR from now on) and others like him find themselves in.
As the story progresses and we get to know FOUR more, he turns into the average American teenager...but instead of just dealing with the normal hormonal changes of puberty, he's got additional alien transitions to deal with. Naturally he has a hard time fitting in at the new school, gets a crush on the pretty girlfriend of the star quarterback, and makes a fool of himself in school.
Meanwhile, his protector (playing the part of his "father") is doing some investigating of his own. The purpose or nature of his investigation is kept secret through most of the movie which seemed a little odd since you would think the protector would not only want to protect his charge, but also work on bringing him up to speed on the nature of things and on training him for the future. I was expecting some sort of training or shared wisdom moments...but never really had them.
For a while, the tension in the town was mainly that FOUR would be discovered by the townies. But then, finally, the hunters get closer on his trail and a confrontation is imminent. Still, FOUR had to deal with the school bullies first and make friends and enemies along the way. When the major confrontation did happen, it was action packed full of booms, bangs and zings. There were plenty of moments of tension in the ensuing battle. Not knowing the exact trajectory of this series (I understand it's going to have a sequel), I wasn't sure exactly who was "supposed to" live or die or make it to the sequel, so there was some tension for me. Still, I was fairly certain things would work out.
By the end of the movie, things ended up working out a bit too cleanly for my taste. Sure there was destruction and death, but there also seemed to be some VERY quick resolution between a few of the characters and situations.
Overall, this was a pretty fun movie that's a mix of adventure, romance and suspense. It's not terribly deep and in some senses was fairly predictable. Some of the nighttime/dark action sequences were a little tougher for me to follow (possibly because I saw it on a huge IMAX screen) due to the quick camera transitions through near black scenery. I also really enjoyed the soundtrack...not all of the songs, but enough that I want to seek them out on iTunes and listen to full clips to decide if I want to buy them or not.
This was a fun movie that's good for a quick escape. It wasn't great or deep...but it was alright. If I could go back and do it again, I'd probably hold off for the video though.
2.5 out of 5 stars
There's been a lot of hullabaloo about this book and the way it was written/published/etc. I'm not going to go into that a lot but I have to say that the whole mess of author ownership, and proper compensation and recognition and all of that had made me a little upset. Part of me wanted to boycott the book and the movie, and while that would have made me feel alright for a second, it wouldn't really have accomplished anything. So instead, let me just say that I think the way the author contracts was handled makes me pretty sad. I don't know all sides of the entire story so I have a hard time attaching blame to any one party. To one extent, I blame the authors for agreeing to such a crazy contract. But to a greater extent, I'm angry at the publishers/"overall author" (what's he even called...?) for coming up with such a model. I just hope that the (mostly) unsung writers can get some publicity out of this and use it to their advantage. And I hope it's also a warning for aspiring new authors (or artists/singers/etc) to get a good review of the contracts and not just jump at something because of the underlying need to actually "get published."