THE ODYSSEY OF DESTINY
Review by Mark Schwab
Lately, I have been watching a lot of indie films in preparation for our 1st annual Diamond in the Rough Film Festival (over 1,100 submissions so far!) and I can honestly say that I have not seen a feature that attempts to do more than The Odyssey of Destiny. This is both a good and troubling thing when it comes to writer/producer/director Brent Hoover's take on what happens to a rogue soldier and the people he loves after World War III erupts.
The rogue soldier in question is Christian (Zach Pappas) who, after getting wounded at the tail end of the war, is cared for by Jen (Katelyn Farrugia). Sparks fly instantly between the two and they end up in love, married, and with child. You think this will be a post-apocalyptic love story but there are many more turns to take.
And for me, this is where The Odyssey of Destiny struggles at times. Writer/director Hoover starts juggling different plots and shifting gears at random. There are mutliple family drama storylines, sci-fi war action set pieces, double crosses, underground biological experiments and more. At times, my head was spinning trying to keep everything in order.
Luckily, none of the plot lines are dull and the actors are very commited to their roles. Zach Pappas in the lead has a lot of lifting to do and yet he stays in character the entire time through every plot machination. No small feat. The only weakness with any of the cast is that Christian and Jen never quite reached the needed chemistry on screen for me to get totally emotionally involved. Both actors are good, but I can't help feeling there might have been more scenes between them which were cut to allow for more plotlines to play out.
Look-wise, Rob Springer's cinematography is excellent. It really works with the mood of the piece, with echoes of an almost Andrei Tarkovsky-like vibe. Trey Workman's art direction is also well-done considering the limited budget. In fact, that was one of my favorite things here - Brent Hoover and his crew really create a whole other world without leaning on Adobe After Effects and without ever building a set. Another impressive feat.
Yes, there are too many storylines and once in awhile you might need to scroll back a minute or two to catch a key piece of dialogue, but there is no denying the ambition and production aspects of Brent Hoover's film. Any way you cut it, The Odyssey of Destiny impresses as an example of indie filmmaking and pure chutzpah.