Today: June 20, 2024

Odd Thomas

Odd (Anton Yelchin) isn’t like everyone else in the friendly Californian town Pico Mundo. For starters, his name was apparently a misprint in his birth certificate and his mother was locked up when he was young for being, well, different, and it appears to run in the family. Odd has the gift of clairvoyance, being able to see the dead (although they can’t speak to him directly) as well as other paranormal powers and special skills which he learns to master. Choosing to use his gift to help others, he follows the ghosts and the skeletal, demonic spirits known as Bodachs, who he helps discover the clues to put their souls at rest, while he juggles the rest of his time working as a short order cook and enjoying every moment he can in the company of his headstrong, witty and devoted girlfriend Stormy (Addison Timlin), young manager of the local mall’s ice cream parlor.

When a freakish new character appears in town, who Odd gives the nickname “Fungus Bob”, he sets off a chain of strange events which lead Odd to believe an impending catastrophe will soon devastate this happy, relatively quiet community unless he can get to the bottom of the mystery with the aid of his girlfriend and Chief Porter (Willem Dafoe), the town’s easy going and fatherly sheriff.

Adapted from the eponymous first novel from hugely popular literary series by Dean R. Koontz,  writer/producer/director Stephen Sommers had his work cut out tying up backstories and loose ends to form a satisfying supernatural comic mystery where those unfamiliar with the book aren’t increasingly confused as more details emerge, yet he’s succeeded admirably

Yes, Stephen Sommers, the man behind the cgi-splattered Mummy franchise and the first GI Joe movie. This is so much more fun than either of those, feeling more like the creative successor of Deep Rising regarding use of characters and banter. Although it’s obviously intended for the multiplex, however, the plot, location and interaction between the local inhabitants remind one of both the Buffy The Vampire Slayer and A Town Called Eureka TV series, giving the film the feel of an overly expensive pilot episode. Still, if this is not successful in continuing on the big screen, it lends itself very well to the Showtime/AMC format so it would be disappointing if Odd and his friends don’t get a chance to continue their adventures

Although tame, relatively shock-free and bloodless considering the plot’s darker developments towards the final act, the effects themselves are more effective than usual, the creatures themselves particularly well designed but used maybe a little too often. There are also neat cameos from smaller characters (including a reference to Elvis,even if not a defined presence which caused disappointment for many readers) to satiate the books’ fans though some are mere nods to otherwise fully formed characters or arcs that faced the chop. Among these, eagled-eyed Mummy supporters may catch a mostly ‘armless Arnold Vosloo being a bit sillier than usual.

What really works so well, however, is the core casting of Yelchin & Timlin as the lovebirds at the centre of the tale, both believable and likeable without needing to waste much time in setting up their relationship, Yelchin far more ripped and action-friendly that his turns in Star Trek and Fright Night would have indicated.  The biggest treat within the film, however, comes from perhaps the friendliest performance of Willem Dafoe’s career, so much so that one really wants to find out where the next turn in these characters’ exploits will take them

Hugely enjoyable and crafted with more heart than one would expect, Odd Thomas is both intelligently crafted yet undemanding with enough emotional turns to keep the viewer hooked until the credits, and at the very least cult success is assured.

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