Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #297
Number of Views: One
Release Date: February 28, 2014
Sub-Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Country of Origin: United States
Box Office: $64,378,168
Running Time: 93 minutes
Director: Stephen Sommers
Producers: John Baldacchi, Howard Kaplan, Stephen Sommers
Screenplay: Stephen Sommers
Story: Dean R. Koontz
Special Effects: Tom Woodruff Jr., Alec Gillis, Tarra D. Day
Visual Effects: Joseph Grossberg, Fabrice Lagayette, Johnny Wilson
Cinematography: Mitchell Amundsen
Score: John Swihart
Editing: Bob Ducsay
Studios: Fusion Films, The Sommers Company
Distributors: Fusion Films, Future Films
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Ashley Sommers, Leonor Varela, Matthew Page, Casey Messer, Barney Lanning, Nico Tortorella, Kyle McKeever, Willem Dafoe, Carmen Corley, Maisha Diatta, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Addison Timlin, Jack Justice, Robin Lanning
Suggested Audio Candy
John Swihart “Stormy”
Cole Sear was a whining bitch if you ask me. Gifted the exclusive talent for being able to communicate with the dead on a daily basis, he spent the entire time sniveling about the visions of the deceased he had to suffer on a daily basis. How did he think they felt? All that time reaching out to him and he burrowed underneath his duvet, rather than giving them the time of day. I’m sure that, had he decided to break bread with the stiffs, then he would have seen that they aren’t as bad as all that. Take Sam Wheat for example; poor bastard wasn’t interested in clanking chains or turning anybody’s hair white. His only desire was to kick that fucking can. Spirits are misrepresented if you ask me, they just want to be a part of something.
Odd Thomas or, to use his birth name, Odd Thomas, is a lot more thankful for the gift betrothed him. You don’t see him whimpering like a bitch every time somebody reaches out from beyond the grave. On the contrary; he has a thirst for knowledge and a morbid curiosity which affords him the opportunity of getting to know them before they take their final passage to the netherworld. It can’t be much fun existing between realms; stuck between a rock and a hard place while upstairs and downstairs squabble about ownership of your soul. Odd understands this and wants nothing more than to right a few wrongs on behalf of those who can no longer influence the living world. He’s a paranormal investigator of sorts, although happy to leave it on the lay low rather than shouting his abilities from the tallest spire. You see, he kind of likes being a teenager and isn’t quite ready for the big time just yet. Small town life is just too appealing.
Odd Thomas is the first of seven novels by legendary author Dean R. Koontz about a twenty-something short-order cook with a unique gift which doubles up as his cross to bear. Having gone on to achieve bestseller status and spawn a number of graphic novel prequels, it is now entering a brand new world as it makes its primary transition to the silver screen courtesy of Stephen Sommers whose résumé already includes The Mummy, Van Helsing and one of my guiltiest pleasures Deep Rising. Koontz himself has already relayed his appreciation for the handing of his source material and, on this evidence, a rather spectacular franchise could well be upon us before too long. Sommers has captured the essence of Odd Thomas and bottled it rather spectacularly into 93 minutes of entertainment which breeze past like a fart on a wakeboard.
Precious few of Koontz’ works have been adapted to film and many have wound up as cable fodder although Demon Seed was one of the most frightening warped nightmares from my adolescence. However, the difference now is that studio executives have finally gotten wind of JK Rowling and her pots of cash and seen fit to throw their coins in the fountain also. Mercifully, this one is done justice. It knows its audience; those who invested multiple hours of their lives into Smallville, Heroes and the like, and milks that teat like a seasoned maid. Thing is, Koontz is something of a cash cow and those udders of his are full to bursting with gold bullion. Odd Thomas, having taken nearly $70m in box office receipts, may well be the one… his golden egg.
It certainly looks the part. Being an avid horror aficionado, it takes a lot to shift the blood to my penis when it comes to CGI. I like my practical effects and prefer to leave excessive visual trickery to Neo and the boys. Odd Thomas is certainly no ugly duckling and the luxurious $27m layout is well spent as the end result is one screwable mallard. While the eye candy extends to every facet of this movie, it is the realization of the bodachs which brings on the Elvis face. According to Scottish folklore, these malevolent spirits used to scuttle down chimney stacks to restock on children’s souls although they are often regarded simply as omens of death. Here they are exactly that; balance one of these bad boys on your shoulder pads and it generally means you’re fucked or, at the very least, going to play a part in the fuckery of others. Poor Odd sees every last one of these alloy mongrels and therein lays the curse in his blessing.
Anton Yelchin proves to be some find. My first introduction to Yelchin came in the form of the affable Charlie Bartlett, horror buffs will know him as Charley Brewster from Fright Night and Trekkies will always refer to him as Chekov. Here, he seems right at home, wearing his character’s skin with integrity and empathy. Less assured casting could have thrown the equilibrium of the whole project off but Sommers gets it on the money with change. His shoulders are required to bear the burden of considerable weight and he shows no signs of buckling; selling his authenticity and investing us into his endeavors effortlessly. Does he need a muse? Heel yeah he does, he may be a superhuman but he’s not a eunuch; and in Penny Kalisto he has the perfect springboard for his erection.
Ashley Sommers is a relative newcomer and acquits herself admirably as his long-term girlfriend and closest confidant. She has the perfect all-American girl next door appeal; the one which convinces you that you’ve met her before even though you likely haven’t. She has the unenviable task of persuading us that the pair are more than high school sweethearts. They are soul mates and it is required that we believe that, long after the demons have been vanquished, they will still walk hand in hand. She just about pulls it off and this keeps Odd Thomas grounded when it threatens to get carried away with itself. There is true love at stake, kindred souls, bodies built to slot right into one another like puzzle pieces. It is to Sommers’ eternal credit that she manages this feat and, by the conclusion, it allows for maximum impact as their story is deftly and intelligently resolved.
Odd Thomas falls marginally short of being considered a classic. It wastes no time in reeling you in and is never in any danger of losing your attention thanks to a superb central performance by Yelchin and some formidable visual effects. Despite this, it isn’t quite up to the standard of the creme de la creme and it remains to be seen how Sommers follows this up as a franchise is clearly looming large. Koontz must be rubbing his hands together with veritable glee as there is vast potential here and he has already laid the groundwork. If you’re looking to pass some time then there are numerous worse ways to spend an evening than in the company of Odd Thomas and friends. Something tells me his days of being a small town cook are numbered.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 8/10
Grue Factor: 2/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers: Considering this is of somewhat darker origins than most super hero fodder, there is a smattering of light grue to keep things ticking along. You will see dead people for sure but it is the vision of those belligerent bodachs which will stay with you after the end credits have rolled.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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