Darke Reviews | Odd Thomas (2014)

This is another requested review for the daily reviews in October. It also happens to be a personal favorite of mine that I really do not know how I came across. I don’t remember any trailers for it. I don’t remember well anything about it. I just saw it on Netflix one night and saw Anton Yelchin on the cover and really that was enough. It still remains on Netflix and can often be found in the $7.88 blu ray bin at Wal-Mart. Because of my love for the film it’s hard not to spoil some parts of it, but I am going to do my best.

The trailer isn’t all that great.

Should you see it though?

This one gets another “Based on a Book” hashtag, as it is based on Dean R. Koontz novel. It may come as a surprise but I have never actually read a single Koontz book. No idea why I haven’t just haven’t. The screenplay and director is one of the ones who has done a better job of entertaining me than most, Stephen Sommers. Best known for The Mummy and Van Helsing yet equally lamented for GI Joe and Scorpion King. No one will ever accuse Sommers of making high cinema, but he does a good job overall of mixing moods and tones in a very fun, cotton candy way. It’s light, it’s fluffy, it’s rarely to be taken seriously; but if he needs to shift between story types he can rather well, as shown in Odd Thomas and Deep Rising. Here Sommers successfully crafts romance, horror, and comedy into a single film. Granted when I say comedy it mostly means light quips and general situations which bring a smile to your face as he did in the Mummy.

Part of that goes to the chemistry of the cast. Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Fright Night) and Addison Timlin (The Town That Dreaded Sundown); the two of them have what to me is an almost fairy tale level relationship. It is so damn earnest and sweet and makes me love them both all the more. What makes things more interesting is unlike other movies such as the 6th Sense, the most important people to Odd believe in his gifts. Most notably his girlfriend Stormy (Timlin) and the chief of police (Willem frikkin Dafoe); not only using his gifts but helping him to use them. It creates an interesting breath of fresh air for a movie like this and allows it to continue at its rather brisk pace from beat to beat and scene to scene.  There is some honest chemistry between the protagonists in the cast. Yelchin has one of the most adorable every man acting abilities and helps make Odd a believable and likeable character. Timlin, well her interactions with Yelchin, character, and attitude make her a strong add to the cast rather than just an accessory to Odd. I want to see more of her than we get.

From a technical standpoint the movie does hit a few good points. The ghosts, as seen in the trailer, while not creepy are at least an original design. Make up effects are also pretty solid and at times pleasantly unsettling. What really helps is the pacing. The movie takes as long as it needs and never longer. The blocking, lighting, and editing work amazingly well. Though this kind of pace is common to Sommers films, I appreciate it as there is no extra fat. I don’t feel like I am missing anything and I don’t feel like I needed more of something. There’s even some amazing continuity through the film that brings revelations to light and doesn’t trip my annoyance levels. It sets up rules and doesn’t violate them. More movies need to do this.


I really like this movie. I watch it every month or so. It has a lot of charm to it. I bought it on BluRay when I found it.

It does so much right and even after multiple viewings the connections I have with the characters, their deliveries, makes me feel for them. There are so many many movies out these days where I don’t care in the slightest what happens. Here I do.

Best part? Odd Thomas is an all ages show, teens and up. Also *not* scary so even if you aren’t a fan of horror movies you will be able to watch this one and I think really like it (I’ve tested this theory with people…it’s true).

Odd Thomas better than it has any right to be.



Darke Reviews | The Mummy (1999)

When doing reviews of certain movies that are remakes, I like to do Old vs. New. A true compare and contrast with points for each as to why one is better than the other. I blame Nostalgia Critic for setting me on that kind of track and he should relish the blame. This time, however, I felt that I should do each review separately so I could give proper credit and praise to the founding material which is over 80 years old and be able to highlight all the nods, homages, and little tells I noticed in the remake that show a certain respect or love for the original. In this case The Mummy, that was released in 1999, really feels like a spiritual successor to the original with quite a few callbacks to the source. I praised the original yesterday and in it’s own context and against films of its time it is a fantastic film. The media and medium has evolved over the years that we feel that we need more to our films, better and worse, and that brings us to this remake of The Mummy.

Director Stephen Sommers has an interesting track record when it comes to his films. If I tell you he did the live action Jungle Book with Jason Scott Lee, you might barely remember that. If I tell you he directed and wrote Catch Me If You Can, you will probably think of the Leonardo DiCaprio movie – and sadly be wrong. If I mention Deep Rising (a review coming later this month) you start to get an idea. If I say Van Helsing, your eyes might start rolling. If I say GI Joe: Rise of Cobra – you will start screaming something about the physics of ice in water. The man has a very specific tongue in cheek style when it comes to his films. He doesn’t seem to take anything too seriously, which can be to his detriment, but also seems to have a very specific love for the films he makes even if it appears careless. He is driven by the imagination of a fourteen year old boy and has budgets in the tens of millions of dollars to play with it. Where Zack Snyder has similar issues in addition to a healthy dose of misogyny, Sommers steers clear of it and just keeps the movies fun and the women in them strong and true to their nature. I can tell that Sommers not just liked, but loved the Universal Monsters as a kid. I really imagine him as the leader of the Monster Squad in his neighborhood.

This love probably explains his writing credit as both Screen Story & Screenplay. The other two writing credits, not including the original 1932 credits that are referenced, go to Lloyd Fonvielle ( Cherry 2000) and Kevin Jarre (Tombstone, Glory, Rambo: First Blood Part II). When you look at the film it’s hard to tell where the person who gave us Tombstone (the Kurt Russell version) had a hand in it much less Fonvielle with his limited work. Their powers combined, however, not only captured the essence of the original; but added a world level threat to the epic feel of the movie. Also where the 1932 film focused on the Imhotep/Anck Su Namun (different spelling this time) love story, this one also brings back the sense of adventure that captured the world in the modern age of exploration.  ADVENTURE really should be capitalized as that is the spirit of the film as much as anything else. Your child brain imagines going on these expeditions, discovering lost tombs, buried treasures, and uncovering mysteries of the past in a true swashbuckling manner.

The movie significantly expands the cast of characters as its net of horror and story grew wider as well. We have Brendan Fraser as our Adventurer and treasure seeker Rick O’Connell. Rachel Weisz is our heroine but far from a damsel in distress, as Evie Carnahan. John Hannah (Spartacus) is our Shaggy and Scooby Doo in this mystery as Evie’s brother Jonathan. I’d be willing to bet their last name is a play on Lord Carnarvon, the man who backed Howard Carters expedition in 1922. This time the creature, still named Imhotep, is played by Arnold Vosloo – with only a bit more historical accuracy as to whom Imhotep was. Rather than cast Anck Su Namun as the same actress for both the past life and current, the role went to the Venezuelan beauty Patricia Velasquez. A new character is introduced to the story and an old name changed dramatically in Oded Fehrs Ardeth Bay, who played a guardian of the tomb.  The villains lackey, Beni, was played by frequent Summers character actor Kevin J. O’Connor.

From a technical standpoint the movie is very much a product of its times. The CG isn’t all that hot, but they do some creative things we had not seen before with it. Sadly we’ve seen it too much since then. The film also wisely used a lot of practical effects to help the story along. When it went practical the notes were hit near perfectly for whatever tone they wanted and the effects looked good. The CG for quite a few effects mostly came off comical, and while I hope that was the intent if it wasn’t there’s a huge disconnect. Sadly this level of computer work seems to not evolve through any of Summers later works; which becomes especially problematic when you look at GI Joe ten years after this one.


This movie is not scary. It is fun. It is just plain, ol fashioned, adventuring fun. It has problems true, but also has a lot of heart and humor to it along with some honest tension and a reasonably well crafted story. Brendan Fraser’s natural charisma is probably the biggest key to this, but everyone does their part.

I really do recommend this one if you need a beer and pretzels night with a bunch of friends.

If you really want to treat yourself though? Watch the original and then this one and look for how many lines of dialogue, set pieces, character names, and story elements are kept from one to another. It’s more than you’d guess.