John (Pettyfer), the fourth of nine alien refugees on Earth, is being pursued by the bloodthirsty Mogadorians following the deaths of three of his brethren. After hiding out in a small town, befriending a nerdy outcast (McAuliffe) and falling in love with an artsy loner (Agron), John discovers his burgeoning powers and decides to stop running. A middling, uneven action drama.
Based on a series of young-adult novels, this movie suffers from a serious case of lopsidedness. The first half sets the scene but doesn’t paint an especially evocative picture: an alien kid and his guardian seek shelter in a small town, only to get embroiled in almost every “new kid in high school” trope in the book. The characters are generic, the script is decent and the romance between Pettyfer and Agron is at times sweet but mostly tepid, in an “angsty, post-Twilight” kind of way. As in most high school movies, our protagonist gets bullied, but Pettyfer’s a few inches taller than his antagonists and built like an athlete, which makes it awkward. The acting is a bit wooden throughout, though Olyphant provides some much-needed wit. However, the second half picks up once John’s powers start to manifest, leading to some interesting mishaps and one borderline-awesome battle at the end. Seriously, I could’ve given this movie a full recommendation if it had skipped the angst and gotten to the good stuff, but I’m also not the film’s core demographic. As it stands, I would wait for the rental.