Veronica Mars

"If I were wise enough to know the difference between what I can and can't change, would I even be who I am?"

The Veronica Mars movie is unprecedented. It shouldn’t have happened. I had completely resigned myself to the fact that the last we would see of Veronica was her walking into the distance on that rainy California day. It stung that we’d never get to see what happened after that. It stung even worse that the series didn’t see resolution in almost every plot it left dangling. I don’t think it fully sank in that the series I loved so much has finally lived on until I saw that first frame of Kristen as Veronica. Naturally I had built this movie up a lot in my head, but I was also a little worried that it might disappoint the legion of devoted marshmallows who contributed to its creation. As far as I’m concerned, it absolutely did not. [This is a spoiler free review!]

I think everyone is familiar with the plot of the movie by now. Veronica, despite finding success as a lawyer in New York, returns Neptune CA to help Logan, whose pop star girlfriend Bonnie DeVille (someone we’ve actually met before and didn’t know it) is found murdered.

That Veronica would give up everything she worked for in those past 9 years, 9 years which included a transfer away from Hearst College to the university she always wanted to go to (Stanford), and return to the place that brought her so much drama, pain and heartbreak is a major issue for her father, Keith, who has been fighting the good fight that Veronica, as he believes it, managed to free herself from. I was pretty excited to see their father/daughter team back in action, and I got that tenfold. Whether it was in their banter which has retained every bit of charm that it had 7 years ago, or in their arguments over Veronica’s future.

One of Keith’s biggest problems is with Neptune High’s obligatory psychotic jackass, Logan. The Veronica/Logan love story was a part of the series that most fans were devoted to. Personally, I think it all got a bit too much during the show’s third season where their break-ups and make-ups tore attention away from everything else. I was really worried that the same would happen here, considering Rob was going to give the fans what they wanted. I was expecting a 107 minute ode to their tumultuous past, but thankfully that wasn’t the case.

Rob Thomas was clever with how he used past plots and stories and, most importantly, the characters we spent three seasons getting to know. Obviously Logan is a huge part of the movie, but unlike the show’s final season, he wasn’t the sole devotee of screen-time.

He was a massive part, to be sure, but the fact that Wallace, Mac, Dick, even Piz, got the attention they deserved is remarkable. Even the smaller characters, like Mr Clemons and habitual bitch Madison Sinclaire, got some love. Well, maybe not love in Madison’s case but you get the idea. We got to see everyone we wanted to see, and then some.

The movies mystery, a mystery that could very well have sat nicely into the series, also feels like it was custom made to please fans. It brings together familiar faces, and some new ones, with a few great twists along the way. My jaw dropped several times.

The shocks kept coming in the secondary plot. I know from reading a few early reviews that this was a source of discontent for many, who thought it was thrown in to fluff out the movie, but it definitely served a purpose (one I don’t want to say here for fear of ruining the movie for some of you), and it had too many squeal worthy moments to wish it gone.

This being Veronica Mars, there was always going to be some darkness and woe thrown in for good measure. How else can it claim its Noir tag? There were few times during this film I was on the verge of tears, and the death count isn’t something to joke about, but everything that happened was necessary and served the story incredibly well.

If there’s one negative about this movie it’s that it isn’t really a movie. It was the perfect continuation of the TV series that we loved. It doesn’t compromise its identity to entice new fans, or make it flashy to justify its cinematic release (which might be a side-effect of the small budget). It stayed true to the series, the characters, and most importantly to the fans who were the ones responsible for this movie getting made.

For non-fans it won't hold the same significance that it did for us devotees. If you are anyway interested I think it definitely has entertainment value, but I would seriously recommend seeing the series first, to appreciate every amazing reference and throw back but most importantly, to understand the history of everything that transpires here.

At the risk of making anyone reading this cringe into their keyboards/tablets/phones, I don’t think there are enough ways I can express my gratitude to Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell and everyone single person involved in making this film. You can literally feel the passion that they all had for bringing Veronica back to life again. It was all over the entire film. Whether or not Veronica Mars lives on (and its ending definitely suggests that it could), I got the film I wanted. The worst part of the show’s cancellation was the series not ending on the right note, and now it has.

Break a sigh of relief marshmallows, Veronica is back and she’s just as great as she ever was.

4.5 out of 5 marshmallows

For a more in-depth analysis of the events of the movie head over to my own blog. Start discussing the movie in the comments below, but if you've yet to see it watch out for spoilers! You have been warned!


Luce said...

Veronica Mars was one of my favourite shows back in the day. As it happened, I'd actually tune in every Tuesday night to watch the episodes.

It made for something of an angsty viewing for me during the super-bumpy third season. The pain was made worse by that sorta-cliffhanger of a finale.

Even though I was excited at the prospect of a new adventure for Veronica and co., I also wary that the movie wouldn't work.

Silly me, really, because this movie was everything I'd wanted and then some!

I loved seeing what everyone's been up to in the past 9 years. It was pretty obvious that the actors really liked their characters so their portrayals of Veronica, Keith, Wallace, etc was as genuine as if they had just finished filming season 10 of the show.

The mystery part really worked for me as well as the way Veronica dealt with her past and took steps to reach some level of self-actualization. It's not that she's generally clueless, but (without going into spoiler territory) she'd sorta run away from all things Neptune.

I do have two minor complaints: the B-story seemed rushed and a step backwards for one of the characters involved. Also, I wished there had been more scenes with Veronica, Mac, and Wallace.

It was a solid 4.5 movie for me too.

I'm curious, though, as to how different this movie will be perceived by people who never watched/aren't familiar with the show.

ChrisB said...

The first season of Veronica Mars was one of the best crafted mysteries I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Beautifully written, beautifully acted, red herrings galore, and enough clues that the killer was obvious once s/he was revealed. Like a great novel, the first season of the show is impossible to put down until the end.

A movie is not a novel, however; it is a short story. What Rob Thomas excels in is crafting a mystery over time. This one felt rushed. I understand that needs must and that a movie is different from a series, but the underlying mystery was weakly put together.

The B plot felt off to me as well, but I am sure that the intent of that story was to strengthen the idea that Neptune is a dark place and that redemption may not be forever.

Although it doesn’t sound like it, I loved this movie. I loved it because it brought back the characters and their interactions which were the highlight of the show, especially the second and third series. Although I would love to have spent some more time with Wallace and Mac, I was thrilled at the amount of time we got to spend with Veronica and her dad. That relationship was, at least for me, the most important part of the series.

Which brings me to Logan. I am one of those who shipped LoVe and I understand that Thomas & Co. were trying to give the fans what they want. Like the mystery, the two of them coming together so quickly was… well, it was too quick. Again, it is the short story aspect of a movie. Having said that, can we just pause for a moment and reflect on Logan in that uniform? Maybe it wasn’t so quick after all.

Great review, Panda. I, too, would be very interested in hearing how this movie is received by people who had not seen the series. There were so many in jokes, so many allusions, so many reminders of why we all fell in love with Veronica. I lost count. Guess I’ll watch I need to watch it again, and then again.

CrazyCris said...

Great review Panda!
I just saw it this afternoon, for once able to see a movie un-dubbed and the same weekend it's airing in other parts of the world (yay Kickstarter rewards!). I don't think I was ever worried about being disappointed. The messages Rob Thomas kept putting out had me sure fans of the series would be happy (well, maybe not X-shippers). So many lovely little surprises on seeing these guys 9 years later! And some sad notes...

So I for one am really happy with the result! And Logan in white?! Ooooh!!! :o) Not exactly sure to which B-story you guys are referring though...

And I really do wonder how this movie will feel to newcomers, it was definitely a coda on the series... with some fun cameos! :p

Nick said...

CrazyChris, I assumed the B story involved Weevil being framed, and he rejoined the motorcycle gang. There wasn't a resolution to that in the movie.

CrazyCris said...

Nick I thought it might be that... but in what way wasn't it resolved? Seems like his riding away on the bike shows he was cleared, otherwise he would have been behind bars...

topher darling said...

I am so glad that this movie got made. I found myself hesitating when recommending anyone watch VM past season 2 because of the way season 3 finished. However, this movie brought up issues and characters from all seasons and it became so cohesive.

On the shallow side of the pool, I think that everyone looked fabulous. I loved Mac's hair and Wallace's mustache. Weevil, Piz and Leo all looked better than ever and Dick, Cliff, Logan, Keith & Veronica all looked just as fabulous as they always have.

It'd be a nice pipe dream to fantasize that this movie could spawn a network like Showtime, AMC or HBO picking it up again for a 10 episode season. I wouldn't want it to go to network TV cuz it's just too wonderful to hear Veronica say, "Fuck off." (nice cameo by her man, Dax, too.)

TheShadowKnows said...

I'm a casual fan of VM at best (I watched the episodes one time each, back when they were originally shown, and I only remembered about half the characters) and I thought the movie was very good.

Heather said...

Panda--love the review.
I agree that it didn't feel like a film. I watched it on TV, too, to perhaps make matters worse. And there was a moment when I paused it and thought, "I wish this had at least three more hours to it, or HELL a whole season." I think I don't know how to consume the VM world any other way.
I also heard some reviews that stated it felt like it was really pandering to the fans and is this the problem with a fan funded project etc etc et al et al... I don't know what the answer is to that second part. I didn't feel pandered to. I think it's AMAZING it got made. It was the first (I am not counting TV shows that have been "saved" by the fans at the 11th hour) and I don't see it being the last. I think on every front, it's wildly successful. And watching it made me misty and nostalgic for these really compelling and dimensional characters and this universe and its plucky female lead and the subversive kicky dialogue... it was just so cool to step back into it, if only for a moment.

Billie Doux said...

Finally got to see it -- wonderful review, Panda, and I totally agree with every word you said. I loved it. And I loved it because it was a continuation of the series and because it didn't try to be an independent movie. I loved every reference to the series, every returning character, the focus on Veronica finding herself, her scenes with pretty much everyone. It wasn't a *great* mystery but it did its job. I'm proud to be a backer. And now that third season finale won't leave such a bad taste in my mouth.

my20cents said...

Sorry about the length of this comment... There. You have been warned!
While being aware of Veronica Mars for some years now thanks to this very site, I had not made the time to watch it till some weeks ago. Last night I finished season 3 and went right into the movie, and while I can't say if this increased or lessened my enjoyment, the movie did serve to reduce that sense of disorientation from those last few episodes. I really don't know what was going on with those episodes; they almost seem like a desperate last shot for sinister plots with not one but two secret societies unraveled by Veronica, and a sex tape mystery solved in record time. I don't know under what circumstances the show got cancelled but so many plots were left hanging... The movie on the other hand was very good and made time for everyone, even if the main plot did not really need them. From that perspective, it was indeed made for the fans, and that is exactly as it should be considering it was only made possible by the fans.
My only problems with the movie were my not being able to believe that Veronica would stay with Piz all those years, and how not having met his colleagues and parents shouted having had a foot out of the relationship all along. Veronica might get confused at times, especially when sniffing out a mystery, but the character never struck me as being needy or false enough to lead someone on for so long. As for the romance with Logan, what can I say; seeing the seasons in rapid succession has meant never being able to get pass his violent psychotic nature from season one. The guy was one step away from being a terrorist in my mind and later seasons only changed in how he was perceived through Veronica's character, not through my own eyes. To be quite honest, maybe my problem was with the actor's face all along; he was cast perfectly as a smug looking O-Niner but didn't work for me as a likeable love interest for our heroine.
Finally, I am not sure what happened with Weevil and the cops, so if there is ever a sequel or a mini-series or even a comic book series called Season 4, I want real development on this character or for him to be killed off - hopefully in heroic fashion. In the years between the third season and the movie he could have become a cop, a private eye, a community leader, youth worker, or even a full on crime lord who walks a fine moral line. Instead he is taken up to devoted family man with his own car shop, and back down to season one biker with no steps in between. Yes, he got shot, and framed, but with no real resolution on this, him getting on the bike again cheapens the sacrifice he made for his daughter.
Anyway, just to finish off I want to thank those who write the reviews. I don't often comment, and don't watch every show - who could really?! But I enjoy reading your insightful reviews and appreciate the space you give fans to really comment. You don't demand likes on Facebook or to subscribe to your Twitter or whatever, although you have all the right to. I doubt there is any business related aspect to this site, but even if there was, it's obvious the love for good TV shows and peer interaction comes first. So thank you!