(Minor Spoilers Ahead-Proceed with Caution)
It’s an age-old debate: the book or the movie? It’s a known fact* that similar issues were debated in1603 when Shakespeare adapted his famous play “Twilighticus” from a popular novel of the time. Here at Quirky Girls Read, we take this kind of debate seriously. In the interest of giving you a non-biased** take on the question, Chaucerian Girl and Izzybella both read the book and watched the movie. It was painful to see that much pretty on a big-screen, but this is the kind of thing we just like to unselfishly do for our readers. You’re welcome.
Blurb from the book:
We may be walking past you right now.
We are watching as you read this.
We may be in your city, your town.
We are living anonymously.
We are waiting for the day when
We will find each other.
We will make our last stand together—if
We are saved, and
You are saved as well.
If we lose, all is lost.
Blurb from the movie:
John is an extraordinary teen, masking his true identity and passing as a typical high school student to elude a deadly enemy seeking to destroy him. Three like him have already been killed…he is Number Four.
The plot for both the book and movie are quite similar. John Smith (Four) is one of nine children from the planet Lorien living somewhere on earth with an adult guardian. All nine were sent away to grow up in safety, allowing them the time required to develop special powers called legacies. Here on earth we call that puberty. Once fully mature, they are to return to Lorien and save the planet, so no pressure. A charm protects them so that in order to destroy them all, they must be killed in order. At the beginning of both the book and the movie, Three has been killed by the Mogorians, the brutal race who first waged war on Lorien. Four has always known that he isn’t safe, but with the knowledge that he is next, his guardian Henri amps up security and moves from sunny Florida to the ironically named Paradise, Ohio. It is in Paradise that Four meets the too-beautiful for words Sara, and her bully of an ex-boyfriend, Mark. He also makes a new friend in Sam, a bookish science nerd with an alien obsession.
It is in the details where the book and movie part ways. Book Four is close to his guardian Henri, and surprisingly free of teenage angst. He and Henri spend time together training and understanding both the history of Lorien and the legacies he is slowly gifted with. Movie Four has attitude and plenty of the aforementioned teenage angst. Movie Sam seems to know quite a bit more about his father’s activities than Book Sam. Movie Henri is short-changed in the script, coming off with not a lot to do besides surf the Internet and erase online pictures of Four. Movie Mark also has quite a bit less to do than Book Mark. And then there’s the BOX! More information than that will constitute a larger spoiler than I’m comfortable with here; suffice it to say that it’s a big honking difference.
So the question at the end of the day is how well does the movie measure up? Surprisingly, the answer to that is “quite well.” Movies and books are two entirely different genres of entertainment. The action in a book that is compelling and intriguing to read can come off stilted in a movie. Think the first Harry Potter outing, which was technically brilliant and slavishly devoted to the source material, yet lacking the magic inherent in the book. Here, the screenwriters changed just enough to add dramatic oomph to the film without completely rewriting the plot.
The casting is excellent, though we have trouble believing the luminous Dianna Agron as a high school student at WMHS in Lima, Ohio (Glee), much less as a sweetly naïve small-town girl in Paradise. Extra points to Timothy Olyphant for making Henri so intriguing despite the shortchanges in the script. Teenagers will, no doubt, swoon over Alex Pettyfer as Four. He does brooding hot guy really well, and his smile lights up the movie screen. And Teresa Palmer, as tough, unflappable Number Six is flat out fantastic-she clearly had fun with her character’s oversize personality and combat skills.
We’ve read a few reviews claiming that the film version of “I Am Number Four” is basically a Twilight retread, something along the lines of when Edward met John Connor. Izzybella can see how certain people of the non-teenage variety might come to that conclusion. She offers the following examples:
|I Am Number Four||Twilight|
|Super pretty heart-throb actor playing main character||The preternaturally attractive Alex Pettyfer as Four||The preternaturally attractive Robert Pattinson as Edward|
|Super pretty mentor for heart-throb main character||Hi, there Timothy Olyphant (AKA, my future husband) as Henri, Four’s guardian||S’up, Doc Cullen, Edward’s super-hot “dad”|
|Lovers who are not just “pretty to look at” lovers, but also soul mates™||Four from the planet Lorien and Sara, from the planet Earth||Edward of the Vampires Cullen, and Bella from the human race|
|Hunky athletic meathead who loved the girl first||Mark, football jock with a soft squishy melty center||Jacob, werewolf with a soft squishy melty center|
|Kick-butt family member with serious powers||Sexy Six-her Ducati is awesomer than your Ducati||Alice-like Edward, she sees you when you’re sleeping, but unlike Edward, she’s not actually there|
So, superficially there may be a little resemblance. But let us offer two major (and welcome) differences. One, there is NO STALKING in either the book or the movie. None. Well, unless you count the Mogs who are stalking and killing the Lorians, but that’s in the interest of world and species domination, not creepiness in the name of love and tasty blood. Two, the main female character is not a clueless moron. When Four tells Sara “it’s not [her] battle” she actually leaves the battlefield and does not guilt him into hiking to the mountains and leaving his family to do all the fighting.
VERDICT: Close, but a slight edge to the book. The book, naturally does a better job of exposition and setting up the series through-line, but the movie was engaging popcorn fun.
*This is a lie and was totally made up
**This also is a lie as we almost always like the book better on general principle.