Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Veronica Mars

It was just last year when a Kickstarter campaign easily surpassed its $2 million goal to fund a budget for a movie sequel to the cult hit TV series, Veronica Mars. I missed the show during its original three season run on UPN from 2004-2007. I remember seeing a lot of promotion for it at the time, but easily wrote the commercials off as a teeny bopper detective show. Turns out that was how UPN wanted it promoted as. I found out later through many fan testimonials that inspired me to give the show a chance on DVD that it was a fresh crime drama, with smart writing and a incredibly loveable cast of characters that each had their own unique charm. Unfortunately for the show, it did not survive the UPN/WB merger into the station we now know as The CW, and the series came to a abrupt halt after only three seasons. Now seven years later since the last episode aired, we are granted closure as the fan funded movie catches us up on what all our favorite characters from Neptune, California have been up to and another new mystery for Veronica Mars to solve (trailer).

In case you missed out on the show, the series was a launch pad the career of Kristen Bell as she portrays the title character, Veronica Mars. Veronica is the son of former town sheriff, Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni), who is now a private investigator after making controversial allegations about the murder suspect of Veronica's best friend and classmate, Lilly. Keith's PI career rubbed off on Veronica as he taught her the craft, and your average episode revolved around Veronica typically getting hired to solve big dilemmas among her high school peers. That initial season had a season-spanning hook where Veronica was constantly on the prowl to discover Lilly's killer, and it delivered in an awesome season finale. The following seasons also had addicting season spanning mysteries, while Veronica finished high school and went on to college.

The movie picks up nine years later after Veronica finished her first year of college at Hearst. Due to another season of crime and dilemmas that follow her around, she gave up her dreams of crime solving and transferred to Stanford to pursue a lawyer career, and to also make the move and continue her relationship with Piz (Chris Lowell). She finished law school and is on the cusp of her first job when she receives a call from her old boyfriend Logan (Jason Dohring) who once again finds himself wrongfully accused for a murder he did not commit. She flies down to just hear him out, and catch up with old friends Wallace (Percy Dags III) and Mac (Tina Majorino). Naturally, she discovers some ground breaking clues and she decides to stick around a bit for one last case. To top it off, former sheriff Lamb's older brother, Dan (Jerry O'Connell) is the new sheriff of Neptune, and he is just as corrupt and incompetent as his brother.

I got to admit, it seemed a little odd for the first half hour or so of Veronica Mars. Probably intentionally so because it has been years since Veronica has visited Neptune and it takes a few exchanges between old friends before the gang gets back in their old chummy rhythm again. It only seemed appropriate that Veronica has to bail out Logan again from another jam. I apologize, but I cannot be legitimately objective about this movie in any way since I was a big fan of the show, and was glad to see this movie come to fruition. Throughout the film, every few scenes I kept getting giddy as another long forgotten recurring character came back for a scene or two, or there was some minor reference to a past location or event. It was sad to see Weevil (Francis Capra) get this treatment for the film, who was somewhat of a major player in the series and who really only has one moment with Veronica in this movie. You can tell the filmmakers tried to throw him a bone and give him a very minor subplot halfway through the film for a few scenes, but it just seems tacky and the film would have been better off without it.

Once Veronica is back in PI mode, you can tell the entire cast and crew was clicking all the way again. It was great to get that feeling of an old episode where Veronica was constantly getting herself in hot water as she kept getting closer and closer to cracking the case. For the most part, I was happy how the film wrapped up the show for most of the characters, with the exception of Weevil and Piz. For their situations I kept thinking the movie did a great job at introducing them embracing their '9 years later' characters and then to have them suddenly make some big changes later on so suddenly just did not jive 100% with me. That said, it was great to have one last mystery for the returning cast, and the way they kept sprinkling in the old recurring character cameos, and even a few big shot star cameos throughout the film is some much appreciated fan service.

There is a healthy chunk of extra features on the BluRay edition I picked up, about an hour and a half in total. I believe they are on the DVD version too. There is a four minute blooper reel, and four minutes of deleted scenes to start off with. There is a six part set of mini features that combine for 19 minutes titled More on Set Fun which is a bunch of quick off camera interviews with the cast and crew where they are up to no good when the cameras are off. The major extra to check out is a 55 minute making of special titled By the Fans. It is an in-depth look at the Kickstarter launch, and lots of well earned love from the cast and crew for the fans making this possible. There are plenty of quick snippets of quotes from Kickstarter backers too that were genuinely emotional for contributing to this and thrilled to be featured as an extra. It also dedicates a decent chunk of the special to on stage production, and the crew putting on a lot of fan appreciation events at comic-con. Definitely make sure to check this well made extra feature out.

It is damn near impossible for me to recommend this movie if you have not seen the show since its lore and history are obviously referenced throughout the film. There is a quick "previously" narrative montage in the opening credits, but that only goes so far. The series was streaming on Netflix at one point, but as of now they only have the discs available. If you dig your crime dramas, Veronica Mars is a fresh new twist on the genre, even if the show is a decade old at this point. If you have watched the show I can only imagine you already own the movie and have watched it multiple times at this point.

This is the newest movie I own in my 'backlog' I am covering. I bought it when it was a new release a few weeks back, but made sure it sat on the shelf against my better judgment to let it just barely qualify as a 'backlog' eligible. ;) Yes I just winked in here. Deal with it. :D Ok, I am out of here.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

21 Jump Street
Bounty Hunters
Captain America: The First Avenger
Field of Dreams
The Fighter

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