Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Odd Thomas (2014) ***

NR, 97 min.
Director: Stephen Sommers
Writers: Stephen Sommers, Dean Koontz (novel)
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Addison Timlin, Willem Dafoe, Shuler Hensley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nico Tortorella, Kyle McKeever, Laurel Harris, Patton Oswalt

If anything, “Odd Thomas” is odd. It follows a man who sees dead people. They appear to him and he helps to bring their murderers to justice. He also sees these things that are kind of like demons who hang around people that are going to cause chaos and death. This makes him an invaluable resource to a local police detective.

So, that doesn’t really sound all that odd for movie fare. What’s odd is not its subject so much as its delivery. It very light hearted considering the dark nature of its subject. It is written and directed by Stephen Sommers from a novel by Dean Koontz. Sommers, you might recall, is the man responsible for the surprisingly delightful “Mummy” franchise recently from Universal. I don’t think he’s a great filmmaker, but there’s something infectious about his comedic approach to dark material.

The film’s star is Anton Yelchin, who is probably best known as Chekov in the new “Star Trek” movies. He’s a surprisingly charismatic actor. He looks younger than he is, he looks as if he’d snap without much effort, he has a soft raspy voice, and yet he’s perfectly believable as an action star. Yelchin is entirely engaging, and I believe this movie succeeds mostly due to his charm and intelligence. The dialogue by Sommers is really terribly written, but the humor helps to carry it and the whole thing ends up as a pretty fun humorous, supernatural ride.

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