Australian Council on Children and the Media

I am Number Four

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Not suitable under 13, PG to 15 (Violence, Disturbing scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for I am Number Four
  • a review of I am Number Four completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 3 March 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing themes and scenes
Children 13-14 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing themes and scenes
Children 15 and over OK for this group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: I am Number Four
Classification: M
Length 109 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The planet Lorien was destroyed by a vicious race of murdering aliens called Mogadorians and the last survivors, including nine young Loriens with super powers and their guardians are now on earth. As they grow up, they are systematically being found and killed by Mogadorians - Numbers One, Two and Three are dead and Number Four is next.

Number Four is a teenager known as John Smith (Alex Pettyfer). To escape the Mogadorians, he and his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant) make their way to the quiet town of Paradise in Ohio where John enrols in the local high school. John strikes up a friendship with Sam (Callan McAuliffe), the school’s science brain and becomes attracted to Sarah (Dianna Agron). He also makes an enemy of Mark (Jake Abel), Sarah’s ex-boyfriend and the local sheriff’s son.

Just as John becomes settled into his new life, the Mogadorians show up and kidnap Henri. The fight with the Mogadorians now begins in earnest, with John and his friends being helped by Number Six (Teresa Palmer).

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Aliens; bullying; destiny

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

I am Number Four contains intense action violence and some school yard bullying. Examples include:

  • The tentacle-like arms of an alien creature smash through a door, grab hold of a man and pull him backwards through the door.  
  • A number of humanoid aliens chase a teenage boy and then stab him in the chest.  
  • John (Number Four) says that he got his first scar (representing Number One’s death) when he was nine-years-old
  • Number Six goes on a rampage, smashing up the inside of a house and using a knife to slash bedding. She turns on the gas stove and strikes a match. The house explodes in a ball of flame that engulfs the girl who protects herself with a supernatural energy shield.
  • Sarah humiliates a teacher by posting a picture of him picking his nose on the internet.
  • A group of male students deliberately bump into another student, pushing him into some lockers. Later we see the same group deliberately throw a football into the same boy’s face, knocking him to the ground and causing his lunch to be ruined. John picks up the football and uses his super power to throw the football at the offending bully’s stomach, the force of the impact hurling the bully into some bushes.
  • When John and Sam open their school lockers, we see red paint explode out of the lockers, covering their faces and chests. Sam charges at, and slams into, the boy responsible for the paint bombs.
  • Four masked boys attack John and Sarah with three of the boys punching and kicking John and the fourth dragging Sarah by the hand and carrying her over his shoulder. John hurls one of the boys into the air and pins another against a tree. He over-powers the boy holding Sarah, threatening to break his “throwing” arm as he pins the boy’s arm behind his back, but stops at Sarah’s request. Later we hear that the boys needed to be hospitalised as a result of injuries sustained during the fight.      
  • Henri shouts at John as he storms out of their house. Henri chases John who uses his powers to pin Henri against a wall. Henri grabs him from behind kicks out his legs and then pins his hands behind his back.  
  • Sam carrying, a shotgun, tells John that he is going to help him. John tells Sam to put the gun away. They enter a house to find Henri chained and hanging from the basement ceiling and see some blood on Henri’s face. John uses his powers to break the chains. A man steps out of his hiding place and holds a gun at John’s head, threatening to shoot him and John uses his powers to throw the gunman against the ceiling and then drop him to the ground.
  • An alien jumps on to the bonnet of a car and thrusts his sword through the car’s windscreen, impaling Henri through the chest. We see blood pooling from the wound in Henri’s chest with John putting his hand over the wound in an attempt to stop the flow of blood. Henri dies on the side of the road, his body turning to stone, then dust blowing away in the wind.
  • An alien places a small metal ball with razor sharp circular saws sticking out of it into a man’s mouth, saying in a sadistic manner “It wants to play with you”. The scene finishes with the man’s screams.
  • Number Six uses an alien gun that fires bolts of energy to attack and kill aliens.  
  • During a final battle between the alien attackers and Numbers Four and Six aliens are blasted with bolts of energy and stabbed with long a bladed sword. Monsters are also involved. John uses his super powers to detonate a series of explosive devices rapped around an alien’s torso. A huge explosion results, but Number Six uses her super powers to shield Number Four and herself form the blast with waves of flames and heat washing over the pair. After the battle is over the school ground looks like the burnt out aftermath of a nuclear explosion.
  • A ferocious and bloody fight between monstrous alien creatures involves ripping with talons and biting with fangs

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • While John is swimming in the sea, a blue light erupts from his lower leg, causing him considerable pain. He staggers out of the sea and collapses on the beach.  At school a blue light erupts from his hands causing him to panic and run out of the classroom. He submerges his glowing hands in a bucket of water as if attempting to put them out, John appears terrified of his super powers, shaking and sweating while hiding in until Henri comes and gets him.
  • There are a number of large scary creatures and aliens, including giant aliens with bald tattooed heads, sharp teeth, gill like slits on the sides of their noses and threatening voices and mannerisms.
  • Throughout the film when aliens die their bodies immediately turn to stone and then dust which is blown away in the wind.    
  • After John grabs at his leg in pain we see a fresh circular red burn mark on his lower leg and see two other similar, but older burn scars on his leg.
  • A lizard crawls behind a bush and emerges transformed into the dog.
  • A humanoid alien creature peels the covering off of the sides of his gilled nose and then removes a set of false teeth revealing a sharp fang like teeth beneath.
  • John and Sarah go on a haunted hay ride during which they see fake (but realistic looking) severed bloody heads on poles, a man with a chainsaw who jumps out in front of them, a re-enactment of a man being executed in an electric chair and a re-enactment of a serial killer chopping off a young girl’s leg.
  • A beagle dog transforms into a giant cat-like monster with fangs and a clubbed tail.
  • At the end of the film we see a beagle dog covered in blood limping towards John

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Apple laptop computer, Apple iPhones, Nikon and Cannon cameras, motor vehicles.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Sarah’s parents talk about how sneaking out of their parents’ house when they were young resulted in Sarah’s conception
  • Sarah makes a suggestive joke in relation to Number Four’s super powers saying “You’re good with your hands”.
  • Number Four’s guardian Henri tells him that they didn’t love like humans, that when he (Number Four) fell in love it would be with a single woman for life.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial nudity and sexual activity.  Examples include:

  • Teenage girls and boys wear tight and brief swimwear.
  • John and a girl flirt while swimming at a beach party.
  • John and Sarah embrace and kiss passionately on a few occasions. 

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Teenagers appear to be drinking alcohol at parties, but there is no drunkenness

Coarse language

Occasional coarse language, together with some putdowns and name calling includes:

  • shit, arsehole, crap, bitch, hell, freak, stupid, pussies

In a nutshell

I am Number Four is a science fiction fantasy film targeting adolescents and young adults. Parents of young children should be strongly cautioned that the film contains intense action and frightening scenes likely to disturb younger children. 

The main messages from the film include:

  • It is not the place that you live in that is important, but the people who live there and the bonds you form with them.
  • You can’t avoid your destiny.  

 This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • the bullying behaviours depicted in the film and how to deal with them in real life

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