So this is what we know.
Veronica Mars was a noir-tinged teen drama that ran on telly from 2004. It was cancelled abruptly after three seasons, much to the dismay of its vocal and passionate fans. It’s star Kristen Bell, has since seen her star rise to the point where she voiced the lead character in last year’s most successful film (Frozen).
Now, thanks to the generosity of its fan-base, Veronica Mars is getting a second lease of life in the form of this new feature film. Creator Rob Thomas (not that one) made news last year when he took to the crowd-sourcing site Kickstarter with the goal of raising $2 million. Ultimately, fans of the show donated a record-breaking $5.7 million to help pay for the production.
The ripples are only starting to spread across the Hollywood landscape. Should the Veronica Mars film prove to be successful, it could point towards a new way of producing and funding movie projects.
On to the review:
This is written from the perspective of someone who has not seen any of the original series, so forgive us if we make some incorrect assumptions. But I think it will help assure readers that the film isn’t just for inveterate fans of the original.
Veronica Mars is an ambitious and self-composed gal living in New York City. We learn that she’s a high-flying graduate from Columbia Law School and that she’s on the verge of scoring a job at a prestigious law firm. During her interview with the firm’s partner (Jamie Lee Curtis), some other essential parts of her back story are revealed.
When Veronica was attending high school, she also worked with her father as a private investigator: solving murders and uncovering criminal conspiracies in her hometown of Neptune, California. But these days, Veronica really doesn’t like talking about that part of her past.
Days before starting this new job, she’s suddenly called back to Neptune when her ex-boyfriend is fingered as the prime suspect in the murder of his girlfriend, a Lana del Rey-alike pop star. She agrees to help him find a suitable attorney but is reluctantly caught up in the investigation. Just when she thought she was out, they pull her back in.
The film seemingly pays a lot of homage to its predecessor, highlighting a number of characters we assume were regular features in the TV show. While this could have come across as confusing and distancing to the uninitiated, the writers do a great job introducing these characters in a way that’s organic to the plot of the film.
They’re also helped out by the fact that many of these actors have since become recognisable. There’s local socialite Krysten Ritter, who you might recognise as Jesse tragic girlfriend in Breaking Bad, Enrico Colantoni (a recurring baddie on Person of Interest) as her father, as well as local cop Max Greenfield (Schmidt from New Girl). Their appearances feel more like celebrity cameos than call-backs to original episodes.
In fact the only real let down of this film is the character of Veronica’s ex (Jason Dohring): you know, the one that’s in a murder-pickle. We can surmise that he’s supposed to be some sort of sullen bad-boy who’s turned his life around in his 20s. Veronica finds herself romantically drawn to him, even though she has a boyfriend. And in spite of the fact that he’s literally the dullest man in town despite being a murder suspect.
Despite its small-screen origins, the film really does work in isolation of the TV show: the script is consistently funny and the central mystery is well-handled and interesting. There are little in-jokes to long-time fans but these references aren’t intrusive to the momentum of them film.
It’s also a refreshing change to see a film like this packed with well-defined supporting characters that add colour to the world of Neptune without distracting from Veronica’s journey. And why shouldn’t they be well-rounded? The writers and actors all spent over three years honing these personalities.
On the bottom line, Veronica Mars is a very enjoyable film: a throw-back of sorts to the Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe mysteries. It also makes a great case for there being more female leads in genre films. This is a film about a woman, but it is by no means ‘a woman’s film’. We really urge you to check this out.
If you care about the kinds of films that are being made today, it’s really in your best interest for Veronica Mars to succeed. The idea that you could get a film made just by donating £10 is incredibly powerful. The very possibility that this could become the standard business model is nothing short of exciting.
Veronica Mars: The Movie is in cinemas and on blinkbox now
All three seasons of the TV series are also available to watch