Saturday, March 15, 2014

Movie Review: Veronica Mars



Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: All the characters are back for another great mystery
Cons: I would have liked more Wallace and Mac
The Bottom Line:
Snooping once again
Recaptures spirit of show
And honors its fans



"So, What Do You Think of Neptune High?"  "It Really Does Sit on a Hellmouth."

Yes, I was a huge fan of Veronica Mars when it was on TV.  (Heck, while admitting the weaknesses, I actually like season 3.)  No, I did not join the Kickstarter campaign to finance the movie cast reunion, figuring I'd just go support it when the movie actually came out.  Even so, I've been hoping it was good and didn't wind up disappointing me.  After all, how could they adequately update us on everyone and solve a mystery in two hours?  I'm very happy to say that Veronica Mars lived up to all my hopes and didn't truly disappoint me at all.

If you've missed the show (and based on the ratings many of you did), it starred Kristen Bell and Veronica, a teenage detective.  She lived in Neptune, a California coastal town that had the super rich and the super poor.  Class warfare was an ever present part of life.  Every week, Veronica found herself with a mystery to be solved, either for her friends at school (and she wasn't super popular) or helping her dad, who was a PI.  But there were also longer mystery arcs to be solved with much higher stakes.  If you want to know more, read my review of season one.

Now, the big question.  Can you enjoy this movie if you haven't seen the show?  I would argue yes.  The first few minutes serve as a crash course in the show, although there is much left out.  Do be warned, there are spoilers for the big mysteries of seasons one and two.  You won't get many of the jokes and nods put in especially for the fans.  Obviously, I'm not the best person to judge, but I seriously do think you could enjoy it.

So let's get down to it, shall we?

It's been nine years since we last saw Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell).  In that time, she has not solved a case.  In fact, she left Neptune, transferring to Stanford and then going on to law school.  She's just graduated and is looking to get a job at a law firm in New York City.  She's also reconnected with college boyfriend Piz (Chris Lowell), and they've been dating again for a year.

So it is with some reluctance that she takes the first call she has in nine years from Logan Echols (Jason Dohring), her on again off again high school boyfriend.  He's been dating a pop star, and he's been found next to her murdered body, naturally making him the prime suspect.  She reluctantly agrees to come home, but just for a day to help him interview lawyers.  However, once there, she begins to get involved in the case.  Can she clear his name without being sucked back into her old ways?

As I said earlier, this movie knocked it out of the park for fans.  In addition to the returning cast I've already mentioned, all the main characters are back.  We're talking Tina Majorino as Mac, Percy Daggs III as Wallace, Ryan Hansen as Dick (who still lives up to his name), Francis Capra as Weevil, and of course Enrico Colantoni as Veronica's PI father Keith Mars.  There are many smaller appearances by the majority of the supporting players as well, all of them fitting naturally into this new story.  In fact, I can really only think of one character from the show that might have appeared who didn't, and as much as I would have loved to have seen her, I don't know how they would have done it without forcing it.  All of the cast, including new comers to the franchise, are great at bringing their characters to life.  But the returning cast?  Absolutely wonderful to see them again and see how effortlessly they slipped into their characters.

The mystery?  Certainly worthy of the show.  I did suspect one piece of the puzzle early on, but there were still twists I didn't see coming.  In the end, it was all wrapped up logically with a very suspenseful end.  This mystery lover (the original reason I tuned into the show) was very satisfied.

And yes, Veronica hasn't lost her snark at all.  Even though this isn't an outright comedy, there are plenty of laugh lines in the movie.  As I mentioned earlier, there are also some jokes and lines put in specifically for the fans.  The opening day audience I saw the movie with loved them as much as I did.  In fact, it was fun to share this experience with a room full of strangers who all got the same things I did from it.

I do have one complaint, but it's tiny.  I would have loved to see more of Wallace and Mac.  They are there and a presence in the movie for sure, but I do wish it had been bigger.  I will admit, I suspected this would be the case early on and it was one reason I was a little worried going in, but it turned out to be a minor complaint over all.

I left the theater grinning.  It was wonderful to see Veronica Mars back in action and on the big screen to boot.  It was a much better end to the series than we got from the third season finale while still leaving the door open for future adventures.  And it was a love letter to the fans.  Those who did support it via Kickstarter will be very happy.

Now, bring on the novel.

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