FILM REVIEW: VERONICA MARS
Release date: 14/03/2014
105mins | 12A
Writers: Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero
Director: Rob Thomas
Cast: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Krysten Ritter, Ryan Hansen, Francis Capra, Percy Daggs II, Chris Lowell, Tina Majorino, Enrico Colantoni
A long time ago, we used to be friends, but I haven’t thought of you lately at all. Actually that’s not true; I thought about you a lot. I kept rewatching old videos of you. I followed your creator and cast on Twitter and any time anybody mentioned a revival I laughed ruefully. Do you know how that sounds? I bet you do. Then you came back into my life via a Kickstarter. I tried to resist, but I couldn’t. I gave you everything I had. I didn’t think it could ever be the same as it was, but it is. In fact maybe it’s even better.
Rob Thomas has achieved what many thought would be unachievable. Getting the film made was one impossible dream but the way he’s recaptured Neptune and the feel of the best episodes of his most famous creation is astounding. The high school reunion is a perfect way to bring back the cast, regular and recurring but it all fits together in an incredibly satisfying way.
Following the events of the show, Veronica left Hurst to go to Stanford and never worked another case. We pick up as her former boyfriend Logan Echolls is charged with the murder of his rock star girlfriend and draws Veronica back to Neptune, just when she’s been offered her first big job at a corporate law firm and has settled into a relationship with the ever reliable Piz (Chris Lowell).
She thought she was out and they pulled her back in. There is so much fan service going on in this movie. If you’ve paid attention and you care, you’ll smile to yourself or make a weird snorting noise. This is same universe as before and director Rob Thomas is clearly having a ball indulging his fans and himself, even referencing a season four mini pilot episode. This is a film for fans but no more than something like Star Trek Into Darkness. In this case the past references make far more sense and even if you know nothing, you should be able to pick up the story pretty quickly.
The script by Thomas and series writer Diane Ruggiero has all the sparking dialogue you’ve come to expect from Veronica Mars, with a darkness underlining the wit. Neptune is a brilliantly realised town with a corrupt upper class exploiting the under privileged. Someone should really set a TV show there. It seems like a vibrant ground to tell stories.
The cast breeze back into the roles as if they’ve never been away. Bell will never play a better part than Veronica and now a little older it feels like she’s grown into her sass and snark. Her chemistry with Jason Dohring is incredible and you can feel the sexual tension in their every exchange. Dohring plays the simmering damaged rage better than anyone and delivers quips to match Bell. Enrico Colantoni’s Keith Mars remains one of the best and most believable on screen fathers. Ryan Hansen is the perfect Dick and it’s lovely to see Percy Daggs III as Wallace and Tina Majorino as Mac but they don’t actually get that much to do. Actually that fits in perfectly with the show.
There are some great directorial touches and while voiceover might sound hackneyed if incorrectly delivered here, it’s stylishly handled and only serves to reinforce the franchise as a reinvention of noir.
As a resurrection of a TV show, some might wonder if it feels cinematic. Other than the slightly forced but completely understandable “previously on Veronica Mars” style opening, it never feels anything other than cinematic. While there was great scope on the show, the town feels bigger and more dangerous here, the threats more immediate and the horrors more shocking.
The ending might feel a little like the final scene for a new TV pilot but that’s exciting. Veronica Mars is well and truly back and even though it’s a broken town, you’ll be left wanting to revisit Neptune. There are plenty more cases to solve. Get on it Veronica Mars.
Veronica Mars is available in selected theatres and on demand everywhere