It's not easy for a fantasy franchise to nimbly establish an elaborate back story, but "Odd Thomas" pulls it off with breezy matter-of-factness in its opening scenes. The titular character, who goes by "Odd" (Anton Yelchin), is an average guy who can't help being a hero. "I may see dead people," he explains, "But by God, I do something about it."
With his elfin looks, aw-shucks demeanor and propensity for righteous brawling, Odd looks and acts like a comic-book avenger. Early on, he bangs up a murderer he chances upon — a bloody-nosed citizen's arrest that the police chief (Willem Dafoe) tolerates because Odd is never wrong about a perp's guilt.
Though he'd love to lose himself in playful banter with his sassy soul mate (Addison Timlin), Odd readies for battle when he sees swarms of "bodachs" around his sleepy town. As near-invisible monsters that delight in sniffing soon-to-be-dead people, the bodachs are writer-director Stephen Sommers' best achievement. Their inky, squid-alien presence is creepy and unsettling.
In adapting Dean Koontz's series, Sommers nails the hero but bungles the world-building. Odd predicts mythological violence, but the climactic wreckage we see on screen is too real for what should play out as weightless entertainment. The tonal confusion persists through a mawkish epilogue that optimistically sets up a sequel, but by then it's too late: We have no reason to return to this world.
"Odd Thomas." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes. At Laemmle's Noho 7, North Hollywood. Also on VOD.
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