The new ‘Veronica Mars’ feature film probably ought to be called ‘Fan Service: The Movie’. The film was produced with significant financial backing (via Kickstarter) directly from fans of the short-lived but beloved TV series that ran on the UPN (now CW) network from 2004 to 2007. Although it has a new standalone storyline that should be pretty easy for new viewers to follow, it will play much better to existing marshmallows.
Honestly, I tend to doubt that anyone not already in the ‘Veronica Mars’ cult will be much interested in the movie in the first place, or will get nearly as much out of it as the dedicated fans.
The story picks up a decade after the events of the TV show. Our former teen detective (Kristen Bell) has long since left her podunk town of Neptune, CA and has recently graduated law school. Just as she’s on the verge of landing her dream job at a powerful law firm, Veronica is drawn back to Neptune when a former classmate is murdered and her own ex-boyfriend, rich bad boy Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), is accused of the crime. This happens to coincide with the high school reunion that Veronica was intent on avoiding.
That’s about as much of the plot as I feel the need to recap here. The mystery is fairly low-key and perfunctory. Frankly, it’s the least interesting part of the film, just an excuse to gather the characters back together and put all the pieces of the TV series back in place exactly where they started.
To that end, the film manages to work in appearances from just about every ‘Veronica Mars’ character of any significance. Fans will be ecstatic about this, while the uninitiated may be left puzzled as to why people in the audience around them would cheer at every walk-on. Most importantly, Veronica herself is just as sassy and whip-smart as ever. She’s a very appealing heroine, and Kristen Bell plays the hell out of the role. Veronica’s relationship with her father (Enrico Colantoni) also brings a strong emotional core.
For her (first?) big-screen adventure, the new ‘Veronica Mars’ has a very small scale and feels more like an extended TV episode than a genuine movie. I have a hard time believing that it will win over many new converts. It wasn’t really made for them anyway. The only reason this property got revived at all was because the fans wanted to spend more time with the characters. The movie accomplishes that goal very well. I have no regrets about donating to its Kickstarter.
‘Veronica Mars’ opened on Friday in limited theatrical release simultaneously with a Video-on-Demand roll-out. As a Kickstarter backer, I was provided with an UltraViolet Digital Copy, which I watched via VUDU. The video quality of the HDX streaming wasn’t great, but I’m not sure how much of that is the fault of the movie’s photography and how much is a streaming issue. According to the Los Angeles Times, a number of viewers have suffered technical issues redeeming their Digital Copies through Flixter.