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Movie Review: Odd Thomas

2013 August 31
by pam artiaga

odd_book odd_stormy

The dead don’t talk, I don’t know why.

That is a statement I will never forget. Odd Thomas is a book that will forever be one of my favorites. One needs only to look at my featured shelf on Goodreads to realize how much I love this book. So imagine my excitement — and apprehension — when I found out more than a year ago that they are going to adapt it into a movie.

Now, after more than a year of waiting, I finally got to see it. Stacey, who has read the book, watched it with me, and so did Odina and Fred, who haven’t read it.

I can only imagine that the movie must have been very underwhelming to those who haven’t read the book. Strangely, I am not mad about it. I can see — at least I think — that the movie makers tried to capture the essence of the book. And at least they did not sell the movie as something equal to the book. There isn’t much fanfare around it, no big “money moves”. I can rest easy in knowing that probably very few people have seen it and judged the story based on the movie alone.

I see two main points where the movie failed in trying to properly capture the depth of the book. These are points Stacey and I discussed on the way home after watching the movie.

Firstly, there were too many dropped scenes. At first I thought that I had simply forgotten how fast the events in the story took place. Stacey did too. But after discussing it, we realized that they have excluded a lot of parts. The path from finding the problem, to trying to solve it, to coming up with the answer was too quick. They touched on all the important points, but they took a shortcut. I didn’t think about it while watching the movie, but I realize now that if I had watched the movie without reading the book, I wouldn’t appreciate the steps it took for Odd to figure out who the “bad guys” were.

Secondly, I think they failed with the characterization. Almost every movie adaptation is guilty of this, but it has a particularly huge impact on Odd Thomas because 1.) the book is written in the best first-person narration I have ever read and 2.) the movie’s length of around 2 hours was not enough to develop Odd and Stormy’s character.

I wouldn’t say the actors were terrible, only that they were not given enough. Odd’s back story was reduced to about one minute of the whole movie, and Stormy’s was completely dropped altogether. That was not a good idea because the story of their lives before they met played a big part in the development of their characters. They were also not given enough scenes where they just talk. There were no discussions about why Odd hated guns, or why Stormy wanted to wait until they were married, or why they were not yet married in the first place. There was nothing about Stormy’s principle of “delayed gratification” or Odd’s theories about the origins of the bodachs, and only very little of their thoughts on life and death.

There is also the fact that I have built them up too much in my head that no one could possibly play them and pass my standards. This is particularly true of Stormy, but that is probably because Odd built her up in his narration. But the great thing about the narration is that Stormy never seemed too good to be true. Odd described her as a “sultry spy” but I never for once thought, “Yeah right, no one’s that perfect”. Movie-Stormy is not so much a “sultry spy” as a high school “crush ng bayan”, but somehow she seemed less believable. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone else, but that was how it struck me. Oh alright, I’ll just say it frankly: Stormy is one of my favorite characters ever and while I like movie-Stormy just fine, she is not really Stormy.

So, verdict.

The movie was nowhere near as good as the book, but I’m not really mad about it because my expectations weren’t high and at least very few people know of it.

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