Thursday, July 18, 2013

ODD THOMAS and the Army of Death: An Unexpectedly Fun Thriller!

July 18, 2013

This movie was a total surprise, and a good one at that.  I had no idea what this was going to be a very entertaining movie. It is locally released as "Odd Thomas and the Army of Death" with a terrible-looking poster showing an ugly spider-like demon crawling in a graveyard.  I even had no idea who the actors were.  I had pretty low expectations going in.

"Odd Thomas" is the actual real name of the lead character, a short-order cook who can see ghosts. These ghosts usually go to him to bring their killers to justice. One day, he notes a strange-looking man he calls Fungus Bob because of his weird hairpiece. This man had multiple "death demons" called Bodachs crawling all over him. 

Based on his previous encounters with such demons, this unusual appearance of numerous Bodachs warned Odd of an impending disastrous event which could cost many lives in their quiet small town. Odd races against time to try to investigate, figure out and stop this catastrophe from happening.

Odd Thomas is played by Aaron Yelchin. This is the actor we best know as Chekov in the new "Star Trek" films. He gets to play the lead character here and he does very well indeed. His wry style of humor and good guy vibe worked very well for him in essaying the story's protagonist with special powers. 

Odd's girlfriend Stormy (a cute name only a hot girl like her can pull off) is played by pretty Addison Timlin. I have not seen her in anything before this film, but I hope to see more of her in the future. She is strong-willed and sassy, a perfect partner for our hero. Addison and Aaron have good screen chemistry together.

Screen veteran Willem Dafoe plays Odd's father. He is a no-nonsense Chief Porter, head of the police department in their community of Pico Mundo. Arnold Vosloo of the "Mummy" films had a cameo paying a ghost with a severed hand and stupid sense of fun. The rest of the supporting cast are not really familiar names but they do their roles well.

However from the get-go, despite the no-star cast and non-existent publicity, this movie entertained me with the charismatic lead actors, the quirky yet likable characters, the stylized computer-generated visual effects, fast and light pace of storytelling and its morbidly dark sense of humor. 

Director Stephen Sommers, who had brought us films like "The Mummy" and "Van Helsing" before, succeeds again in making these films with macabre themes very entertaining for the mainstream audiences. His interpretation of Dean Koontz' best-selling novel is truly excellent, even if this obviously had a lower budget than his previous films.  This is deserving of more hype than the other higher profile projects out there. Highly recommended! 8/10.

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