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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 12.08.13] action mystery

Dean Koontz is no stranger to adaptations of his work but I doubt any of the projects based on his books have gone through as much legal finagling as Odd Thomas, an adaptation of the first in a series of six novels. Directed by Stephen Sommers who previously had tremendous success with The Mummy movies, the movie has been through the legal ringer and for a while, it didn't look like it would get a release. While no specific dates have been announced, earlier this year Image Entertainment confirmed that they'd picked up the movie and would be giving it an early 2014 release. Good thing too because Odd Thomas is a heck of a good time.

Odd is a short order cook in Pico Mundo, a sleepy California desert town that sees very little in the way of trouble but when it does come rolling in, Odd goes into action. As suggested by his name, Odd is a bit strange, having the ability to see the dead and supernatural creatures called bodachs that foretell trouble. Over the years Odd has become an asset to Pico Mundo's chief of police Wyatt Porter who takes Odd's sixth sense in stride, covering for the young man as necessary.

All's relatively well until Odd spots an unusually large number of bodachs hanging around a creepy looking guy quickly nicknamed "Fungus Man." Odd follows Fungus Man to uncover what sort of trouble he's planning, discovering a plot that includes Satanists hell-bent on causing maximum damage and so Odd finds himself in the tricky spot of saving his sassy love interest Stormy along with the rest of the town, from a group of Satan worshiping madmen.

Folks that found Constantine too dark (a complaint I've heard more than once) will find Odd Thomas more to their liking. Sommer's movie shares quite a few similarities with Francis Lawrence's but overall, it's a far lighter affair that is pefect fodder for the tween crowd. Sure there are evil peeps wreaking havoc and supernatural creatures all over town who have crawled out of a gigantic hell mouth but there's also a huge amount of comedic relief. Most of it comes from Odd himself, a really likeable guy who just happens to be able to see the supernatural and is able and willing to protect humanity from the evil powers of dark and Anton Yelchin is really great in the role that has him in nearly every scene. The rest of the laughs come at the expense of Willem Dafoe who comes across as a mostly clueless Chief who happens to have a secret weapon, and Addison Timlin as Odd's aforementioned sassy love interest.

Sommers stretches his budget to ridiculous lengths, an impressive feat considering that most scenes have some sort of special effects but the good looking CGI is only second fiddle to the movie's charm. It has some weird tonal shifts and a relentless amount of voice over from Yelchin constantly explaining motivation, filling in back story or holding our hand through some event that happened off screen and despite it all, Odd Thomas works. Sommers manages to balance all of the aspects that shouldn't work into a package that's hard to dislike. A huge part of this is due to Yelchin who really carries the movie and has no trouble manoeuvring the quick shifts in tone that see him fighting the bad guys one second and cracking jokes with Stormy the next, and the rest can be credited to the writing. I don't know how much of it is Sommers' snappy dialogue and how much comes from Koontz's material but it really doesn't matter because at the end of the day Odd Thomas is just good fun.

Here's hoping it does well enough for someone to give Sommers' $27 million for a sequel. But only if Yelchin comes back. I doubt they could make this work without him.

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Scott (7 years ago) Reply

Seriously? I thought this was godawful, as did most people, thus its straight-to-whatever release.

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