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Review: Odd Thomas

For a supernatural superhero, Anton Yelchin seems an odd choice for the lead character Odd Thomas in the film with the same name. He's probably best known as Chekov in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot, small in stature with a baby face, Yelchin doesn't exactly seem like the confident, ass-kicking sort. Sure, he kicked ass as Chekov in Star Trek, but that was as a young enisgn on a starship. As Odd Thomas, Yelchin is to supernatural detective work what Michael J. Fox was in The Frighteners: he's just as meek with a streak of competence that belies his looks. And yet the Toronto After Dark audience voted him as the Best Leading Actor this year. Thinking back on the October 21 screening, that's exactly what I found so enjoyable about the movie. Much Like Stephen Sommers' previous works, like The Mummy, the actors more than the story are what make Odd Thomas so enjoyable.

Written by Dean Koontz, adapted and directed by Sommers, Odd Thomas is about a young man who can see the supernatural. Apparently this is why he is so well equipped to handle just about anything that comes his way. Anton Yelchin does a great job of playing the plucky superhero. He's a bit unbelievable as a physical force, but suspend that disbelief in a world where there are entities that can be seen by a small few, and the police chief actually allies himself with such a person instead of imprisoning him, and you should have an enjoyable enough time. Good thing Odd is as tenacious as he is because dark forces are at work that could destroy his California town and the woman he loves (Addison Timlin as Stormy Llewellyn). All three, Odd, Stormy, and Police Chief Wyatt Porter (the always amusing Willem Dafoe), work to ensure the safety of their home. The Kato to his Britt Reid, Chief Porter helps Odd for reasons unknown other than Odd always being right about cases that are nigh unsolvable. Reading this vague synopsis, it may sound like a mess, but it all works because of the likeability of the characters and the actors portraying them.

If there are any issues with the movie, it's the script and maybe some editing snafus. They're mostly minor, aside from some characterization that will leave some audience members scratching their heads in bewilderment - mainly some fairly sexist comments from Stormy. The movie moves along at a fast pace despite its problems, clocking in at 95 minutes, with it's tonal shifting being one other reason it won't be the classic it could have been. Part horror, part action, with comedy and romance thrown in, it tries to please everyone and as a result we get the disjointed film it is. I still feel that despite these flaws it's a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Not every character is as poorly written as Stormy. Odd himself is a quippy kind of hero, which is probably why he's so likeable. He's fun, but you can still see the emotion and hurt in his eyes. Kudos to Yelchin. Willem Dafoe has never been more friendly than in his role as Chief Porter. There are also some really cool cameos from Patton Oswalt and another Sommers regular, Arnold Vosloo. Everyone in the cast is right for their chosen roles - aside from the aforementioned lack of physicality by Yelchin.


Like most of Sommers' films, Odd Thomas is a popcorn movie, worth the price of admission for affable performances and a touching ending that I don't want to spoil for you. I want to see Odd Thomas again. I have a feeling it might hold up on multiple viewings and may find a place in my collection. Luckily, outside of some legal issues, Odd Thomas looks to be getting a theatrical release in early 2014. Take a look for yourself and let me know what you think.

 


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