Director : DJ Caruso
Starring : Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron
Running Time : 110 minutes
Release Date :February 24, 2011
This movie has it all. A movie adaptation of a novel by the same name (authored by Pittacus Lore) it has a handsome, mysterious yet gentle hearted hero, the beautiful yet misunderstood girl who falls for hero, the downtrodden geek who befriends hero, the warrior/father/guardian figure who protects hero, the school yard bullies who taunt everyone and the bad guys who want to kill hero. There is even an adorable yet strange beagle who hero adopts.
But let me tell you more about the hero…
John Smith (Pettyfer) is one of 9 very special and uniquely gifted children hidden on earth after their home planet is destroyed. Each child is accompanied by a guardian whose sole purpose is to protect the child. 3 children have been killed and John is number 4.
At the age of 15, John and his guardian/father Henri (Olyphant) are adept at moving on quickly, silently and leaving no trace of themselves. After 3 is killed, the ‘family’ move to sleepy, anonymous Paradise, Ohio, where Henri has business to attend to, in the hope of escaping John’s fate at the hands of the evil Mogadorians (more on them later).
John’s attempts to blend in go awry as he is set upon almost immediately by the school bullies for his interest in the softly spoken and ethereal looking Sarah (Glee’s Agron). He antagonises the bullies further by befriending the school geek, who will become a pivotal character before long.
It is about this time that John’s gifts begin to emerge….and they are pretty cool. Whether this is due to his emotions, the natural order of things or the fact that the bad guys are after him is never clear. I think it’s a combination of all the above. Now about those bad guy Mogadorians.
You won’t be able to miss them as they are 8 foot tall, bald, tattooed black trench coat wearing heavies who drive around in a cavalcade of shiny, black cars. They also have creepy yet completely mesmerizing gills near their noses. Oh and sharp, pointy teeth. Contrasted against the average, if very good-looking, humans, truly scary. I LOVED them!
About two-thirds of the way through the movie, the character played by Aussie actress Teresa Palmer starts to have a major impact. I won’t say who she is (you should go see the movie to find out) but I will say that she makes Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft look like a frumpy wanna-be.
I love seeing Australians in the movies, especially the up and coming actors and in this one, she gets to keep her Aussie accent. It so rarely happens that it is noteworthy. It really did make me smile.
This movie is like a roller-coaster. It races along, slows down only to pick up speed then ease back a little again. But when the race for the last giant loop begins, it moves along sharply as all the puzzle pieces fall into place. I would have liked some of the characters to have been fleshed out some more and some are a little cliché (watch for the big bully’s police officer father) but overall, it was not a movie that you could say was lacking in this area.
The special effects were well done and the monsters and bad guys were scary enough without being gross. The ending is left open to a sequel but satisfying enough in itself. In fact, the novel is only the first in a six book series (according Wikipedia) so there is my answer.
Now how do I recommend this movie? I had my teenage sons (14 and almost 17) with me and they both thought the film was ‘hectic’. The younger one raced home and googled the book once we saw it was a novel.
This film is clearly targeted to the under 30 market and I think it will do very well, especially as there were half a dozen or so girls swooning over the lead actor’s poster as we waited in the movie theatre’s lobby for the movie begin.
I am obviously not this movie’s target audience but should you give it a miss? Absolutely not! It was an entirely pleasant way to spend a rainy, humid Sunday afternoon and that is exactly what we did.