So, one Sunday afternoon a couple weeks ago, I decided to watch it. The first thing I noticed was the assured performance Anton Yelchin delivers. At twenty-five, he is a highly engaging actor and exudes a confidence that many actors in his age-range do not. This is probably due to his having been a child actor (he's been working for more than half his life), but he is also just a fine screen actor with a likability akin to a young Tom Hanks.
Yelchin's ability to connect with an audience is what grounds this film in reality enough for us to care about his character and be invested enough to see how the story unfolds. He plays Odd Thomas, a twenty year old short order cook who has the ability to see and communicate with the dead. Odd is a quirky, quick-witted young man with no big aspirations in life other than to be a great short order cook and hang out with his girlfriend, Stormy. But, he also possesses a strong moral center that pushes him to do everything he can to help the wandering souls who cross his path.
The casting of Yelchin in the title role is the best part of the film and elevates it at moments to something beyond a low-grade B-movie. In every other aspect, the film feels more like a really good pilot to an ongoing cable series than a polished motion picture. That isn't a criticism so much as it is advice on what kind of expectations to set when watching this movie. I wonder if the anticipation of adapting the other books in the series fueled this TV-pilot tone. If so, it was a risky move that almost doesn't pay off and probably only worked for me because I watched it on Netflix, not on a big screen.
Regardless, Odd Thomas is a decent entertainment made better by a strong lead performance. If it were a TV series, I would definitely be watching it.