The movie follows the ¡°Twilight¡± series¡¯ playbook in casting a high school outsider as an otherworldly character. In this case, he¡¯s an alien* from outer space who changes schools the way normal kids change T-shirts because other aliens are out to destroy him.
Young English actor Alex Pettyfer, the hunk* of the moment for teen girls, stars as the misunderstood alien. He has a perfect body, but his acting ¡ª moodiness relieved only by flashes of anger ¡ª leaves a hole in the movie. The rest of the cast is more eye-catching, especially Dianna Agron as a teen absorbed in photography, Callan McAuliffe as a geeky* guy into UFO stories, and fellow Australian Teresa Palmer, who adds plenty of sex appeal and athleticism* to the role of another, much more self-confident alien.
A brief action sequence that opens the movie establishes the fact that a handful of good aliens from the doomed planet of Lorien are being hunted on Earth by evil ones called Mogadorians. They are eliminating* nine good Loriens in numerical order; Number Three meets his fate in the opening, thus letting the target fall to Number Four (Pettyfer).
Number Four and his protector (Timothy Olyphant), posing as his father, flee* their identities in the Florida Keys for brand-new ones in the small town of Paradise, Ohio. (The movie was in fact filmed in and around Pittsburgh.) As ¡°John Smith,¡± Number Four enters a stereotyped high school. A male clique* surrounding the school¡¯s star quarterback (Jake Abel) bullies* a geek who believes in UFOs; and a beautiful cheerleader only wants to escape these thick-headed jocks*.
Number Four is ordered to keep a low profile by his protector, which is hard to do when your hands glow like lightbulbs and you can toss around football players and police cars like matchsticks. So Number Four has a very hard time staying off YouTube, which is why the Mogadorians, led by a hammy Kevin Durand, are hot on his trail.
The movie is mostly a missed opportunity. The film plugs into some genuine* teen angst* and identity confusion* that might have joined nicely with its sci-fi elements. Instead, these two realities, a high school with its many melodramas and aliens chasing each other around the country, operate on parallel tracks.