Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Veronica Mars (2014)

As someone who was a big fan of the Veronica Mars TV show (well, the first season, anyway), I tried hard to find reasons to at least give this a qualified recommendation.  "If you were a fan of the show, it's not bad." I told myself. "Not good ... the script feels kind of clumsy and heavy handed and trying to do too many things ... but not bad."

Ultimately though, I decided that the narrowness of the prospective audience - because this is very much a movie for fans of the show, which goes a long why to explaining why it didn't succeed at the box office - and the fact that my reactions to the film were so lukewarm, meant that I couldn't really recommend it.  It helps that I suspect that at the end of the day if you were a fan of the show you've probably already decided whether or not you're going to see it, and if you weren't a fan ... well, I'd recommend you hunt down the first season of it, because it is excellent.  But this movie?  No.

Fair warning, there be spoilers here.  So if you are a fan of the show, and you want to see the flick unspoiled, you might want to close this tab of your browser now.

Still here?  Okay ...

It's been nine years since Veronica Mars, former teenage private eye, got out of Neptune, the venal, corrupt seaside town in which she grew up.  She stands now on the verge of a job at a prestigious law firm in New York, and also on the verge of meeting her long-time boyfriend's parents for the first time.  And then Logan Echolls, her bad boy former lover, calls.  He's on the hook for a murder charge, and he needs her help.

To no-one's surprise, Veronica flies across the country.  "To help Logan choose a lawyer", she says.  But the purpose of the stay - and its length - keeps growing and growing as she finds herself drawn back into her old haunts and habits.

Can Veronica prove Logan's innocence, despite the corrupt sheriff's complete disinterest in anything but a quick, high profile conviction?  Well of course she can.  Frankly, the movie never really makes that seem like it is in doubt.  It's too busy wedging in three seasons of background from the TV show and making sure as many former cast members get cameos as possible.  Which is touching loyalty, but a detriment to the film, both in terms of the roles those cast members get to play (mostly very minor) and the plot (Veronica's investigation relies a whole lot on happenstance, and a couple of times the film makes her look pretty darn clueless, frankly).

I'm glad this film was made: it does provide a sense of closure that the TV show lacked, and it is less disappointing than the show's 3rd season was ... but that's ultimately rather faint praise.

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