2 1/2 StarsStephen Sommers steps back from his nearly 15 year run of blockbuster, spectacle filmmaking and tackles this quirky tale that seems to have slipped from the minds of Richard Kelly or Sam Raimi, not the guy who made the flaccid, The Mummy Returns. It take a few minutes to settle into this strange world that Sommers and co-writer/author Dean R. Koontz are creating, but once the rules have been established and the tone zeroed in, Odd Thomas really lets loose with its bag of surprises.
The peculiarly named, Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) is a young man who spends his days as an unassuming short-order cook in a local dinner. The thing that makes Odd’s name so fitting is that he possesses a clairvoyance that allows him to spot demons and communicate with spirits wandering in our dimension. In an early scene, Odd accost a seemingly friendly schoolmate and viciously beats the man. Turns out the guy is a murderer responsible for the grisly death of a little girl. It all takes on a logic as Odd plainly states, “I see dead people. But then, by God, I do something about it.”
Chief Wyatt Porter (Willem Dafoe), is the lead detective on the case and is also one of the few aware of Thomas’ visions and covers for the vigilante justice unleashed by the hero. Well, that’s how the film presents the main character as some sort of Superhero, complete with a sidekick, (a brief cameo from Patton Oswald) that provides armor. Even the undercover regular day-job, feels like a sly dig at the overblown superhero flicks loitering on multiplex screens at the moment.
A strange and suspicious man, nicknamed Fungus Bob has come to Pico Mundo, accompanied by a large swarm of demons, known as ‘bodachs’. Odd uses his supernatural intuition to connect the stranger with a terrible catastrophe that is to occur in a day’s time. Together with his girlfriend Stormy, Odd uses his unique skills to track the man down and stop the death of two little girls.
There are some obvious signs of post-production tinkering that do the film no favors. However, this isn’t the unmitigated disaster that A Sound of Thunder was, another film that sat on the shelf with a recognizable cast and director attached. Anton Yelchin has always come off like a second-rate Joseph Gordon Levitt, and in the film’s first fight scene, I thought Sommers had dropped the ball in casting him. In actuality its a great fit for the part, Yelchin nails the comedic timing of the sometimes rapid-fire dialogue and the seriousness that is called for when facing down a demon. Odd Thomas is a mixed bag, the film always feels like it is on the verge of cutting loose, but it instead continually gets tripped up in scenes that play as if out of sequence. Look for an outstanding cameo from Sommers’ Mummy collaborator, Arnold Vosloo as a ghost with a sense of humor. For the cynical, Odd Thomas is worthy of a look just to see the continual botching of author Dean R. Koontz’s work in Hollywood.
Director: Stephen Sommers
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Willem Dafoe, Addison Timlin, Leonor Varela