|Odd Thomas (2014)
Reviewed by Dustin Putman
(Release Date: March 25, 2014) A pulpy mix of tongue-in-cheek humor, horror and tragedy, "Odd Thomas" is an odd bird, all right, off-beat enough that it is easy to see why a major studio didn't step up to give the film a wide release (instead, it went the Video-On-Demand route and briefly came to a handful of theaters with little promotional push behind it). Written and directed by Stephen Sommers (2009's "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra"), adapted from the novel by Dean Koontz, the picture feels like the pilot for a television seriesor, at least, like the introduction to a proposed new film franchise. Dialogue is on the nose and frequently stylized, a creative decision that takes some time getting used to. Once this hump is overcome, it is difficult not to get caught up in the story's twisty mystery and the sweet on-screen relationship between leads Anton Yelchin (2013's "Star Trek Into Darkness") and Addison Timlin (2014's "That Awkward Moment").
New Mexico town Pico Mundo is pretty on the outside, but holds a dank, dangerous underbelly. No one knows this more than Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin), a young fry-cook with the ability to see dead people and the drive to bring them justice and set their restless souls free. When Odd sees shadowy harbingers of death called Bodachs latching invisibly onto people, it is a sure sign that disaster is preparing to strike. Never before, however, has he seen so many at once. With the countdown to a suspected cataclysmic event approaching, Odd and vivacious girlfriend Stormy Llewellyn (Addison Timlin) become embroiled in an investigation linking the shady Fungus Bob Robertson (Shuler Hensley) with a bowling league, the local mall where Stormy works, and Odd's nightmare-plagued waitress coworker Viola (Gugu Mbatha-Raw).
"Odd Thomas" is a little bit of "Medium," a little bit of "The Ghost Whisperer," and a little bit of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" all rolled into one. Director Stephen Sommers' attempted jump scares are so predictably devised they hold no impact, but the film works much more confidently as a part-quirky, part-sudsy thriller. Anton Yelchin is a wonderful Odd, ingratiating and believable, while Addison Timlin is radiant as the sassy, soulful Stormy. Their fated lifelong love story is the best part of the movie, while ensemble support comes from Willem Dafoe (2013's "Out of the Furnace"), as fatherly police chief Wyatt Porter, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (2011's "Larry Crowne"), as Viola. Even if "Off Thomas" would have likely had a more fruitful life on the small screen, it is still an enjoyably fast-paced way to spend 96 minuteswith a few additional surprises up its sleeve.
"Odd Thomas" hasn't a stitch of fine graina common, somewhat antiseptic result of digital filmmakingbut the high-definition 1080p picture quality dazzles all the same. There are two instances where clothing patterns wreak moiré-laden havoc on the image (keep a look-out for one of Willem Dafoe's suits early on), but otherwise this is an excellent presentation. Colors are bold, blacks are inky, and there is a pleasing sense of depth to the already-attractive locations on display. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is very active, filling the sound field particularly well during the action set-pieces, while dialogue is on point. A big climactic explosion will especially cause a bit of a rumble in one's home theater.
No special features are included on this release.
"Odd Thomas" is imperfect, to be sure, and tonally all over the place. Fortunately, director Stephen Sommers makes it work. With Anton Yelchin bringing a lot of heart to his sympathetic protagonist, it is disappointing the film did not get the chance to make a bigger impression at the box office. Now that Image and RLJ Entertainment's Blu-ray has hit the marketplace, it will hopefully give the film at least some of the attention it deserved.
|© 2014 by Dustin Putman