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Review: Odd Thomas is a Weak Dean Koontz Adaptation

review score 3odd-thomas-officialThe titular character, Odd Thomas is a short order cook in a small town restaurant. Odd appears ordinary, but has the somewhat secret ability to see dead people as well as a malevolent breed of supernatural entity known as bodachs. When Odd senses something destructive is in store for his town, he joins forces with his girlfriend Stormy and the pair try to save the town from ruin. Maybe they should have just stayed home.

There are a few great films that use voiceover narration, but in most cases it is unnecessary and ultimately a little lazy. The voiceover narration in Odd Thomas is totally unnecessary; the details that are revealed by way of voiceover could have been communicated to the audience by some other expository method. The entire film is plagued with instances of unnecessary voiceover narration and it cheapens the film.

I had no preconceived notions about what to expect or what the film should be like as I have not read the book on which it is based. I have heard all kinds of praise for the book but the magic doesn’t seem to have translated to the screen. I was really frustrated at seeing writer/director Stephen Sommers take what is supposed to be good source material and turn it in to a bad film. There are crappy movies being made in record number, so it’s disappointing to see someone taking a good premise and making a mess of it.  

The film’s dialogue is reminiscent of the type of interactions one is accustomed to hearing in teen dramas on The CW. Odd Thomas tries to be witty and hip but it falls flat and the film does more to annoy than amuse. The banter between Odd and his girlfriend Stormy is particularly irritating. It sounds too rehearsed and totally unnatural. I kept wondering why the characters were being so cheeky? I definitely don’t know anyone that only speaks in witty banter with a hint of condescension in his or her tone and if I did, I’d be tempted to backhand them.

The attempts at humor aren’t funny. In addition to the seemingly unrealistic interactions between Odd and his girlfriend, there is also some really obnoxious dialogue in the film - “I’m a woman. We all have issues. That’s what makes us interesting and keeps you men interested." That line was recited in a completely non-ironic fashion. A female character saying that strikes me as a bit like laughing in the face of decades of feminism.

There is A LOT of CGI in the film. It’s fairly good, as far as CG goes – and for a reported budget of $27 million, it should be. But it would have been nice to see the director rely on the use of practical effects at some point, rather than almost exclusively using CG.

It’s hard not to like Anton Yelchin and he is even likable in parts of Odd Thomas. Unfortunately, the likability of an actor only goes so far. Despite the fact that I usually find Yelchin to be an enjoyable person, the movie is still pretty unbearable. The rest of the cast left a lot to be desired in their performances.  

The Stormy character (Addison Timlin of the upcoming The Town that Dreaded Sundown) is really obnoxious. All of the effort that writer/director Stephen Sommers put in to trying to get viewers to like her character is in vain. Timlin seems uncomfortable in the role and provides the impression that she was miscast. Willem Defoe is okay as Chief Porter. It seemed like he might be phoning it in a bit but he isn’t, by any means, bad. This film just doesn’t really represent the actor’s best work.  

There is very little insight in to the mind of the film’s villains and what we do learn is tacked on at the end, much like an afterthought. Odd Thomas is out now on VOD and DVD.

  • Polite_Werewolf

    I actually liked Sommers first Mummy movie, but basically every other movie he’s made is disappointing. Deep Rising is a cheesy, though decent, monster movie, though.

  • Quetzal

    You just crushed my hopes of this movie :(
    So it’s another “Phantoms” then ? Dammit !

    • Kenn

      Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms, yo!

      • Quetzal

        You know, I can never think/talk about that movie without that line coming to mind :D

    • Cody Perkins

      No, not even in the same league bad as Phantoms. The movie stuck pretty close to the book and I admit that I shed a tear within 5 minutes just because of the sheer excitement of finally seeing the film as a reality versus the movie in my mind. Anton and Addison were a great couple and I really felt Odd’s pain at the end after his big realization moment was especially moving. The degree to which Anton acted out the pain and torment he was feeling was enough to make me shed even more real tears. To be clear, I can’t recall the last time a movie made me feel so emotional to draw a tear out of my eye.

      Willem Dafoe was a little unexpected as Chief Porter but I loved his exchanges with Odd.

      The bodachs looked about as much as I expected them to. The CG was good, their presence appropriately menacing and they were just overall very creepy to watch on film.

      Add to that a surprisingly decent score from John Swihart (of Napoleon Dynamite fame, the last person I personally would’ve ever guessed would do the soundtrack) and you’ve got a film that’s not only respectfully close to the book but a cast, crew and composer that helps bring these deeply conflicted characters to life. I could definitely picture it being done differently in some places but for the most part, I was happy for the entire 90+ minute running time. .

  • FMSWVT

    If you had actually read the books you would have known it is written in the 1st person, and therefore the voice over makes perfect sense. The Odd humor and cheesy dialogue is in line with the characters and the book as well. The movie is almost spot on with the book, and in no way was the source material corrupted by the movie. Koontz’ books are not block buster material, but rather they are just simple good matinee material. Odd Thomas purists will be mostly pleased as long as they don’t listen to uninformed reviewers before seeing the film. It should do well in streaming, dvd, and redbox.

  • J Jett

    i actually really enjoyed this movie. i admit i never read the book but the movie was better than many horror movies coming out today. it has a great cast (especially the 2 leads, Anton & Addison as Odd & Stormy) and the creatures were done pretty well. overall good CGI. the little twist at the end i admit i didn’t see coming. it had impact/emotional heft because i really liked the characters.

    Tyler Doupe, i definitely respect your opinion but i LOVED the chemistry between Anton & Addison. they were a very believable (and highly likable!) couple. and i couldn’t disagree more with your assessment of Addison’s acting. she was a highlight of the movie IMO.

    but to each his/her own. :)

    • http://www.funwithhorror.com/ Tyler Doupe’

      Hey, that’s ok. I appreciate that you can construe your opinion in a respectful way. And to each his own, in deed.

  • Muscle Dad

    This movie was awesome and I hope they keep going forward with the series. Not sure how you came up with such a bad review. I thought it followed the book perfectly and the tone of the movie was similar to the book. Dean koontz has two modes, horror or supernatural suspense love story. This book was the latter. I remember crying at the end, and I’m sooooooo happy they didn’t change it. And I’ve turned on a lot of people to the film who have enjoyed it.

    • J Jett

      Muscle Dad, i admit i had tears in my eyes at the end too! the movie did a very good job at casting VERY likable actors/actresses so that when events happen it affected me. i really liked this movie.

  • cmg

    If you are being honest with yourself this review is SPOT ON… I really enjoyed all of the books tremendously, but this movie was like a made for SYFY adaptation.. Bad Dialogue, too much unnecessary CGI, Did not create any emotional connection with ANY of the characters.. Not good at all.. Good Review of a disappointing adaptation..

    • J Jett

      cmg, i’m being 100% honest with myself and i’ll repeat that i really enjoyed this movie. i respect your opinion but i fully disagree w/ the site’s review as well as your own review. not a big deal. we all like different things.

    • http://www.funwithhorror.com/ Tyler Doupe’

      Thanks. :)

  • Arthur Ralph Kerr

    never a fan of bad endings…if you like that sort of ending more power to you. I however hate it when the hero fails the one person he was supposed to protect. It does not make me want to watch the movie a second time.

  • the odd one

    Followed the book well. Loved it, hope to see the rest on flim!!!!!

  • oxhanoverxo

    I agree. The girl who plays Stormy doesn’t even try to act. All her lines come off as flat as if she’s bored with the entire thing. I want my $5 back.

    Also just because a book is narrated doesn’t mean the movie needs to be. See what they did with Delores Claiborne as a good example. When a book is told in first person, you need that character to describe things. It becomes redundant in film because you can see things with your own eyes and don’t need that character to explain what you can already see.