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Veronica Mars (2014)
Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/6/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/29/2014
Unless you've been, I don't know, dead, you know that zombies are still very hot right now. But, it's not just people that have been coming back to life lately. In the old days, if a television show wasn't a hit, it was never heard from again, no matter how clamorous its fans were. This isn't the cast anymore Firefly got brought back for the film Serenity. Buffy the Vampire Slayer lives on in comic book form (this may not necessarily fit the "not a hit" criteria, but it comes close). And now Veronica Mars is back on the scene. TheVeronica Mars TV show ran from 2004-2007 on UPN and The CW. While the show was favorably reviewed and it built a group of rabid fans, known as "Marshmallows", the show made a graceful exit after those three seasons, although rumors of a fourth entry abounded. In 2013, series creator Rob Marshall opened a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to make a feature film and in record time the Marshmallows kicked in the necessary dough to make the project a reality. So, we now have the Veronica Mars movie.
Veronica Mars takes place ten years after the finale of the show. Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) has moved from her home of Neptune, California to New York City, where she has completed law school and is set to not only take the bar exam, but get a position with a prestigious law firm. She lives with her boyfriend, Piz (Chris Lowell), and she is very happy with her life. Her past literally comes calling when her ex-boyfriend, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), who she hasn't seen in 9 years, is charged with the murder of his girlfriend, pop singer Bonnie DeVille (Andrea Estella). When Logan calls Veronica asking for help, she can't resist. She returns to Neptune, surprising her father, Keith (Enrico Colantoni), and she finds herself suddenly swept back into the life she left behind -- mostly because this visit coincides with her high school reunion. Reconnecting with old friends Wallace (Percy Daggs III) and Mac (Tina Majorino), Veronica begins to look into Bonnie's death and, of course, she finds that it's not a simple open and shut case.
The first question which comes to mind about Veronica Mars is not whether or not it's a good movie, but if it will have any appeal to those who aren't familiar with the show. The answer there skews towards no. It's pretty clear that Thomas, who serves as Director, Co-Writer, and Co-Producer here, intended the film to be a love letter to the fans. Of course it should be, as the fans paid for it to be made. Just as Veronica takes a stroll down memory lane, so do the fans, as many familiar faces from the series pop up in cameos, along with some surprise celebrities who aren't linked with the original program, but clearly came on-board to have a good time. I'm not trying to imply that if you haven't seen a single episode of the show that you won't understand anything that's happening -- it's not that kind of show -- but the storyline, relationships, and characters all hark back to the original series in a very strong way.
As for the movie itself, this feels less like a feature film and more like an extended episode of the show -- which may have been Thomas' intention. Despite the generous donations of the fans -- almost $6 million -- Thomas didn't have the money to make a huge, over-the-top movie, so the result plays like a classic episode of the original series, where Veronica finds herself once again dragged into the muck of Neptune high society. On the one hand, this is fun, as the beats all feel right (for the most part) and it's neat to see all of the old characters again. But, it also feels sort of lazy. Would have been taboo to see Veronica doing something different?
There are also a few problems with the movie itself. Thomas seems to be trying too hard to include characters from the show and a subplot concerning Weevil (Francis Capra) goes a bit too far. I'm sure that some will find the ending, which tells us that you can go home again, satisfying, but I did not. I felt that negated who Veronica is as a person and really did a number on everything which she'd worked to achieve. My biggest problem with the movie was Jason Dohring. I never considered him an acting tour de force on the show, but he brought enough personality to Logan to make us hate him at times. Here, he seems to be sleepwalking. And while he's had other gigs since 2007, it's almost as if he's forgotten how to act.
Warts aside, Veronica Mars is harmless fun and it does succeed as a treat to the fans and it's clear that most everyone here was having a great time while making it. The movie offers some funny moments and a solid, if not slightly ho-hum, mystery. The good news is that the movie has brought back Dick (Ryan Hansen), who really should have gotten his own film.
Veronica Mars made me wonder what Leigthon Meester is up to these days on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, and while some shots skew towards dark, the action is always visible. The level of detail is good and skin tones look realistic. The depth is good as well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good, most notably those which illustrate sounds coming from off-screen. The nightclub and reunion sequences produce notable surround sound effects and the music in these scenes gets the subwoofer involved.
The Veronica Mars Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. "By the Fans: The Making of the Veronica Mars Movie" (56 minutes) is a very in-depth featurette which explores nearly every facet of the creation of the film. Starting with the opening of the Kickstarter project, the piece then moves on-set to take us behind-the-scenes for the actual production. Here, we get comments from not only the cast and crew, but also the fans who were involved in the filming. There is also footage from ComicCon where the movie was featured, which then leads to the premiere. "More On-set Fun" kicks off with "Welcome to Keith Mars Investigation" (3 minutes), which has Enrico Colantoni showing us around the office set. "Game Show with Kristen Bell and Chris Lowell" (5 minutes) has the pair asking odd questions of one another. "On Set with Max Greenfield" (3 minutes) is an interview with the actor which feels as if it last "All day, son!" "Veronica Mars' Backers" (5 minutes) offers comments from some of the Kickstarter supporters. "It's Not All About You, Monkey" (3 minutes) offers an odd glimpse at a seemingly benign scene from the film. "Young Veronica" (1 minute) is a profile of one of the extras from the film. The Disc contains four DELETED SCENES which run about 4 minutes. Finally, we have a 5-minute GAG REEL.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long