Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: "Veronica Mars"

It was in the spring of 2005 while living in France that I first heard of Veronica Mars, the UPN teenage noir series that starred the relative unknown Kristen Bell. I have been a fan of noir cinema since first seeing Curtis Hanson's brilliant 1997 film L.A. Confidential (which should have won the Best Picture Oscar over Titanic). I became obsessed with the teenage detective series and have forced most people in my life to watch it. It is a series whose first season I have seen so many times that I can recall almost every plot point of each episode. Bell was seven years too old to be playing a spunky highschooler, but she was the perfect choice for the articulate, cunning and manipulative Veronica Mars. Rob Thomas, the show's creator, surrounded her with a great supporting cast, including Enrico Colantoni (her father Keith), Percy Daggs III (her best friend Wallace), Tina Majorino (her friend Mac) and Francis Capra (her biker gang ally Weevil). I was always more of a fan of Duncan (Teddy Dunn) than fan favourite Logan (Jason Dohring), but I have hoped for years that Veronica would end up with Troy (Aaron Ashmore)! It had long been hinted that Thomas and Warner Bros. would make a film based on the show, which was canceled after a poor third season when Veronica goes to college. In March 2013, Thomas and Bell went to Kickstarter to attempt a crowd-funding project to show the studio that there was fan interest in a film. By April 13, 2013, the campaign had raised over 5 million dollars, more than two and a half times the target amount. By June, filming for Veronica Mars has begun. Supporters of the Kickstarter campaign, myself included, were privy to consistent updates - videos included - from the cast and crew. On March 14, 2014, 366 days after the project was launched on Kickstarter, the film was released in theatres and online. The film may be considered a vanity project and contain too many fan-centred plot points, but Veronica Mars is as entertaining and Bell is as alluring as we all remember.

Veronica (Bell) is living in New York City and she is about to write the bar exam. She transferred to Stanford after finishing her first year of college at Hearst in her hometown of Neptune, California. She is living with Piz (Chris Lowell) and she rarely returns to Neptune to visit her father (still an investigator), Mac (still a computer nerd) and Wallace (now a teacher at Neptune High). She is lured back when Logan is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend Carrie Bishop (played in the series by Leighton Meester and in the film by Andrea Estella - supposedly she is a member of the band Twin Sister). Neptune - a town without a middle class, as classified by Veronica - is as much a hole as she remembers. With her ten year high school reunion looming, Veronica is reunited with all our favourites, including Madison Sinclair, Dick Casablancas, Vinnie Van Lowe, Deputy Sacks, Cliff McCormack, and even Leo D'Amato!

Rob Thomas has said that he made this Veronica Mars film to appease fans and supporters. There are a few things that do not work so well - such as a complication that befalls Weevil. And not every fan can or will be pleased with the treatment of their favourite character. For one, I had hoped for more time with Mac and Wallace. But, in the end, Veronica Mars works because there is a tiny bit of Veronica in all of us. What I would give to have her witticisms and her attitude. And I am even considering completely changing my identity so I can rock Mac's sex hair. There is a cheapness to the overall quality of the film that is oddly comforting. It is slightly too dark at times - even too dark for noir! - but I was never bored or upset at the treatment of one of my favourite shows. I just hope that Veronica will be back in our lives soon with a mystery that is more cohesive and without having to include all our favourite characters, even if we love them. Sacrilegious, I know.

My rating: 3 stars out of 4.

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