Film vs Novel – I Am Number Four

What would you do if your survival relied on mastering a power you’ve yet to receive? Isolated your whole life – the only sanctuary is love…

I Am Number Four Film vs Novel by Casey Carlisle

Hot on the heels of the ‘Twilight’ franchise success, Touchstone Pictures/Dreamworks attempted to recreate that sensation with ‘I Am Number Four,’ based on a science fiction series by Pittacus Lore. I think it did a mildly successful job, but alas, the momentum of the film crashed and burned.

The book was a quick read and involved a lot more science fiction elements within the plot than it’s film counterpart. The characters had a wider scope of powers; and the history of alien races is explored further throughout the text, creating interest and helping you to invest more with the lead. Our antagonists (Mogodorians) in both the film and novel however, felt two dimensional – which left me wondering if the book was targeted towards a juvenile market. Conversely, the Mogodorians representation in the film was improved somewhat, but still left me finding them ‘camp’ more than ‘menacing.’ Again, the baddies did not feel quite so scary.

I preferred how the movie had simplified the powers of the Lorien – how each character had abilities unique to themselves. It got a little messy in the book series keeping track of what was going on sometimes when powers began to overlap. The narration of the novel flowed nicely and it was easy to escape into the world of a threatened alien species. I found there to be a little too much information dumping at times – I would have thought a conversation between John and Henri or John and Sarah would have been a better mode of revealing occasional facts. The narration in itself lacked some tension – although it was a great high stakes story with plenty of action, the pacing fell short of something to turn it from a fun read to something outstanding.

I Am Number Four Film vs Novel pic 01 by Casey CarlisleSecondary characters in the movie version were developed further in comparison to their written counterparts. Plus the lead, played by Alex Pettyfer, did a stellar job in capturing John Smith. As Dianna Agron enhanced Sarah’s presence in the franchise. My favourite though, would have to be Teresa Palmer playing Six – she added an edge to the character lending realism to her bad-assery.

The treatment of John and Henri in the written version was great – I loved how they explored their failings and had to grow throughout the arc of the story… if only that theme had extended to the remainder of the cast, because at the end of the day I did not feel like I had read anything new, or something with a unique twist. I loved how the Nine Lorien were connected and could feel each others deaths, but after that, originality went out the window. The story could have been epic but failed to live up to its potential in both incarnations of film and novel.

The stand out aspect in the film for me were the special effects – the battle scenes remaining steadfast in my memory (snippets of which are shown in the trailer).

I Am Number Four Film vs Novel pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Overall, the movie was a much more satisfying experience over the book for me: so it wins hands down. I’d recommend either for a leisurely afternoons entertainment, but don’t expect it to rock your world.

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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