I Am Number Four combines sci-fi action spectacle with teen drama in a manner reminiscent of many popular blockbusters from the 1980s. Director DJ Caruso (Disturbia) is not only aware of these similarities, but actually cultivated them.
“I have five kids and I’ve been trying for years to make a good old fashioned Amblin film like The Goonies,” Caruso told Metro. “When I got this script I immediately felt like it was the one. I loved the way it combined action and science fiction with the story of a kid who realizes that who he wants to become and who he can become are two different people. That seemed like a simple relatable story that would be perfect to hang a genre movie on.”
The film is about a teen who seems like everyone else, except that he’s secretly one of the last members of a near-extinct alien race that is slowly being picked off by reptilian assassins. Though based on a successful novel, Caruso surprisingly started his adaptation before the source material had even been published.
“When I read the manuscript it still had typos and red writing in the margins,” recalled the director. “But it was liberating because unlike huge franchises like Twilight or Harry Potter, there were no preconceived notions of what the movie would be. No one could get mad with me because they don’t know what to expect.”
Caruso was also lucky enough to have the benefit of launching a franchise with two seasoned blockbuster veterans serving as creative producers: Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay.
“Steven was very involved in developing the script and then Michael helped me with the visual effects in post,” said Caruso. “They were helpful bookends on the production and I couldn’t have done it without them because this was new territory for me.”