Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Blu-ray Review: ODD THOMAS (2013) [Image Entertainment]

Odd Thomas (2013)

Buy the Blu-ray or DVD

The Movie

Ever since the HARRY POTTER series was translated into film and took off like a bullet, Hollywood has continued to pummel us with adaptation after adaptation of whatever Young Adult book series they can get their hands on, in hopes of finding a cinematic hit that they can mine for years to come. With HARRY POTTER officially wrapped (for now, at least) and TWILIGHT having had its last sparkle (again, for now), we've seen an endless series of dull, lifeless attempts at creating a new film franchise that will bring the tweens out in droves, and most of them have flopped at the box office. I can't help but think that this may be part of the reason why Stephen Sommers' adaptation of ODD THOMAS has had such a long road to finally reach American audiences, and it's a shame because it's actually damn good and deserves to be seen.

The official synopsis of the film reads as follows:
Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) tells the story of a short-order cook with clairvoyant abilities. Maybe he has a gift, maybe it’s a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out. Sometimes they want justice and he finds himself helping police solve a crime. Occasionally, they prevent one.   
One day, however, a mysterious man comes to town with a filing cabinet stuffed with information on the world’s worst killers and a pack of hyena-like shades that follow him wherever he goes. Who the man is and what he wants, not even Odd’s deceased informants can tell him. What happens next is a mysterious battle between light and darkness.
The real kicker that sets ODD THOMAS apart from the bevvy of lackluster cash-grab adaptations that seem to be flooding the theaters these days is that the film really does have a lot of heart to it. Sommers and Company have brought author Dean Koontz's creation to life on the screen in a way that stays true to its source material, with a darker tone at times and some heavy drama. However, the film also has a great sense of adventure about it, which is something that should not surprise those who are familiar with Sommers' filmography that includes films like THE MUMMY and (my favorite of his works) DEEP RISING.

Anton Yelchin has proven over the last several years to be an extremely likable guy, and this very much works in ODD THOMAS' favor, as he carries a good deal of the film on his shoulders. It also helps that he is surrounded by a talented bunch that includes folks like Willem Dafoe (has he ever been bad in a film?), Patton Oswalt, and the the gorgeous Addison Timlin, who plays Odd's girlfriend, Stormy. There's a lot of chemistry between the bunch, and Odd and Stormy's relationship is one of the best I've seen on-screen in years.

So why, then, is ODD THOMAS making it's US debut on Blu-ray/DVD instead of your local multiplex? Well, that's a good question... As alluded to earlier, the most recent wave of Teen Fiction adaptations - like MORTAL INSTRUMENTS and VAMPIRE ACADEMY - have pretty much failed to light the box office on fire. And, quite frankly, ODD THOMAS isn't your standard tween film to begin with. I imagine that Hollywood execs probably couldn't quite figure out how to market a film that owes way more to the the Film Noir genre than it does the TWILIGHT series. Unfortunately, it seems that Hollywood likes its films easily described, watered down, and very safe; something that ODD THOMAS is definitely not. It's far more than just a story about attractive people falling in love with a little bit of supernatural tomfoolery thrown in. People die in ODD THOMAS, and they're not just one-dimensional characters that you don't care much about. In fact, I damn near teared up at at least one point in the film, and as a grown-ass man, that's not something that happens often. 

There's one other reason that i can think of that may have made the Hollywood brass leery of putting ODD THOMAS in the public eye. However, I can't say much about it because it really would spoil what is a fantastic third act. Just know that, if you watch ODD THOMAS, you're not in for an easy ride. Though, ultimately, the film really is fun, it does contain some difficult subject matter that might hit a little too close to home these days. For that, I give the film (and the filmmakers) a lot of credit. 

Ultimately, it's a shame that more people won't get to see the movie theatrically. I was lucky enough to catch it on the big screen last year at a film festival, when it made the rounds, and I'm very glad that I did, as it really is an experience that plays well on a large screen that can showcase the impressive special effects. However, I am truly glad that RLJ and Image Entertainment have brought ODD THOMAS home where we can revisit it whenever we choose. It may not ever get the sequel that it deserves, but ODD THOMAS is certainly worth your time.

Movie Score


The Blu-ray

Image Entertainment brings ODD THOMAS home in a barebones Blu-ray/DVD Combo pack. In addition to giving us both formats in the same package, the initial run comes with a cool lenticular slipcover

Video Quality (4.5/5)

ODD THOMAS looks great on Blu-ray, and its 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is a joy to look at. The film's colors pop on-screen, and the image is stable, clear, and very detailed. In today's age of Digital Masters, this shouldn't be a surprise, but unfortunately, some companies still feel the need to tinker with their source too much. Thankfully, that's not the case here,

Audio Quality (4.5/5)

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround mix on the disc is pretty wonderful as well. The sonic world of ODD THOMAS is well-represented here, and those with a good home theater system will appreciate the power of the audio track included here. During the action-heavy points of the film, things kick into overdrive, but it also handles the quiet moments exceptionally well. Things are mixed nicely, with no jarring differences in levels and good use of the surround channels to create atmosphere. 

Extra Features (0/5)

Unfortunately, there are no extras on the disc; not even a trailer for the film itself (just previews for other movies).

Final Thoughts

It's been a long road for ODD THOMAS to reach US audiences. In fact, as of this writing, it's been almost six months since I saw the film at the end of its festival circuit run. However, we finally have it easily available, and RLJ/Image's Blu-ray release looks and sounds great. The lack of extra material is disappointing, but the film itself is so good that it makes up for it, and I have no problem giving the Blu-ray a hearty recommendation; for fans of the novels or otherwise.


Blu-ray Score


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