MVP of the Month: Teresa Palmer

Posted on February 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm

teresa-palmer-as-tori-frederking-in-take.jpgAustralian actress Teresa Palmer stars in two films out within a couple of weeks of one another. We just saw her as the tough action heroine Number Six in “I am Number Four.” And next week she appears opposite Topher Grace in “Take Me Home Tonight,” a raunchy but sweet tribute to the films of the 1980’s. She was terrific in the under-appreciated “Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” and shows range, talent, charm, and good humor in these two films, giving more dimension to both characters than the script does, and holding her own among the special effects of “Number Four” and the wild antics of “Take Me Home.” Coming next, she appears in next year’s new “Mad Max” film from original director George Miller, co-starring with Nicolas Hoult and Charlize Theron. Sounds great!
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Actors Behind the Scenes

I Am Number Four

Posted on February 17, 2011 at 6:55 pm

B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for brief language
Profanity: Some strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Intense and sometimes grisly fantasy and battle violence, monsters
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: February 18, 2011

A young, handsome kid has extraordinary special powers vastly beyond the abilities of mere mortals. He is being chased by big, scary, ruthless, and relentless creatures with enormous weapons who have killed numbers One, Two, and Three. He is Number Four.

That’s John Smith (Alex Pettyfer of “Alex Ryder”). But it’s also kind of James Frey, best remembered for being touted and then flayed by Oprah after it was revealed that his memoirs were not exactly true. Frey has now created a best-seller factory, working with grad students in writing programs to produce mega best-sellers. This book is attributed to “Pittacus Lore” but in fact it is the product of Frey and a former graduate student named Jobie Hughes. That may explain the paranoid overlay of the plot and the portrayal of the main character as an unappreciated genius being hunted by powerful evil forces trying to destroy him.

Frey may not have special powers but he has a very good sense of what makes a marketable, if synthetic, story. There’s some Harry Potter, some Percy Jackson, some Buffy, a bit of “Twilight” and even some Superman and Spider-Man, but none of the genuine feeling of any of those books. The idea of a teenager with hidden source of extraordinary ability unseen and unappreciated by the grown-ups is undeniably a compelling one. Teenagers going through their own unsettling and powerful transformations can related to John’s discovering what he is capable of as he fights off the forces of evil. And so, in spite of the pre-fab foundation, there are moments when it is easy to get caught up in the story.

The action scenes are well staged and director D.J. Caruso (“Disturbia”) knows how to create paranoid tension and has a good feel for the way teenagers talk to each other. But Pettyfer does not have the acting ability or screen presence to carry off the a lead role, suffering by comparison to the far more able Timothy Olyphant (as his guardian), Callan McAuliffe (“Flipped”) as a brainy classmate, and Dianna Agron (less chilly than she is as Quinn in “Glee”). It’s likely to please the fans of the book but is too empty at its core to make many new ones.

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Action/Adventure Based on a book Fantasy Movies -- format Science-Fiction
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