Odd Thomas – It’s weird to see the director of The Mummy, G.I. Joe and Van Helsing working on such a small scale, but even confined to a lower budget, his slick storytelling and love of gratuitous computer-generated monsters shines through. Anton Yelchin plays the title character, whose actual first name is “Odd” (he believes it was meant to be “Todd”), and who is basically like Haley Joel Osment’s Sixth Sense character all grown up with a hot girlfriend. Local detective Willem Dafoe has learned to accept that Odd’s intuitions are usually right, but when he senses that something massively bad is approaching – as signified by transparent demons called bodachs, who feed off of negative energy – Odd must deliver some actual proof before anything can be done about it.
Based on a Dean Koontz novel, Odd Thomas isn’t as quirky as something like John Dies at the End – Stephen Sommers is a mainstream director at heart, and every story beat is clear and clean. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it ultimately leaves this tale feeling too traditional to truly become a cult movie (its best shot at this point is to become a cable mainstay, which could work with minor trims). Sommers does pull off one pretty decent surprise, though, and you’ll know it when you see it.
Walking With Dinosaurs: The Movie – Take an acclaimed semi-documentary, then give it a spin-off that, instead of showing dinosaurs as animals in the wild with voice-over narration explaining their habits, puts the voices of John Leguizamo and Justin Long into their mouths? I already saw Disney’s Dinosaur, thanks, and from what I’ve heard this take is not better.
Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher – Natasha drawn Japanese-style has to be somebody’s fetish, right? Marvel and Madhouse team up again for an anime DTV feature starring two of comicdom’s most badass black-clad antiheroes, forced to work together after the Punisher interferes in a SHIELD operation and is captured. I have to wonder if that’s more or less how the Marvel/Madhouse partnership works, too.
Scooby-Doo: WrestleMania Mystery – If it ends with Batista’s head being removed to reveal Old Man Vince in a costume, trying to ruin his main event and drive down stock prices in a manner that he would have gotten away with if not for some meddling kids, I will applaud.
Continuum: Season 2 – Yes, it’s another TV series I would probably like but don’t have time to keep up with, so instead I’ll defer to what TR contributor Natalie Nichols wrote about it in calling it one of the best TV shows of 2013:
Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) is a police officer from 2077, who’s unwillingly transported back to 2012 when members of terrorist group Liber8 escape execution by fleeing to the past. She conceals her true origin (and her nifty high-tech suit with built-in sensors, forcefields, invisibility cloak, etc.) and bluffs her way into joining forces with the Vancouver Police Department. She also meets teenage computer whiz Alec Sadler (Erik Knudsen), who in the future is the Smoking Man from The X-Files (OK, not really, but he is played by William B. Davis).
The reality of time travel here is neatly balanced by Kiera’s uncertainty about how it actually works, and, although Kiera isn’t really enjoying herself, that’s a fun puzzle for viewers to work out. If she manages to get back home, will it be the same 2077 she left behind? Or has her presence in the past already irrevocably altered the future? In Kiera’s time, Alec is a hugely powerful figure whose tech corporation dominates business, government and everyday life – and is the symbol of forced compliance that Liber8 is fighting against. In Season 2, we learn that old Alec came to regret his role in making this world, and hopes to change things by manipulating both Kiera and Liber8. But can any individual hope to take on history – or the future – and alter the entire architecture of existence? I dunno, but thinking about that stuff always gets my synapses firing.
Chinese Zodiac – This is the one where Jackie Chan uses the roller-blading skate suit; it’s a semi-reboot of the Armor of God movies.
Patrick – In advance of an upcoming remake, the original Australian horror flick about a killer in a coma who can still cause havoc via psychokinetic powers is getting a spiffy Blu-ray/DVD combo, though it’s the unauthorized Italian sequel, Patrick Still Lives, that most cult-film aficionados prefer.
Beneath – Larry Fessenden often makes critically acclaimed indie horror flicks, and is responsible for launching the career of the now more successful Ti West. This one about a killer fish, however, landed some of the worst reviews of his career. I’m in no hurry to check it out.
Key & Peele Seasons 1 & 2 – Not everyone likes these guys as much as I do, but they are probably the nerdiest black comedians in the public eye right now, with skits extolling the pleasures of The Walking Dead and Liam Neeson movies, alongside some pretty spot-on Obama impersonations and deconstructions of hip-hop clich?s. Putting both seasons on one set seems like a pretty fan-friendly move, too.
Those are my top picks this week – also, on DVD only is Mystery Science Theater 3000 XXIX, featuring Untamed Youth, Hercules And The Captive Women, The Thing That Couldn’t Die and The Pumaman.
What would you add? (Yes, I’m aware of The Wolf of Wall Street, but it doesn’t really fit the bill of stuff we cover.)