What to Expect
How often does one have to binge-watch a whole television show to shed the image of a show-noob and watch it’s – apparently – much desired movie adaptation without any hangups? How often does one actually appreciate the film adaptation in comparison to the original – here, quite lavish – source material?
Not very often.
Except for Firefly or – to a very restrained extent – Battlestar Galactica – quite a few movie adaptations of television shows (in the form of both reboots or sequels) don’t really match up per se. A prime example this writer can state is definitely The A-Team, which essentially failed to capture the zing of the source, ultimately providing yet another popcorn-crunching action movie sans any substance. This is where famed Kickstarter-funded Veronica Mars makes it’s show-stopping entry, whilst still dubiously being the weird odd-man out. Ending on an ambiguous note with the finale of it’s third season, the content has had to go a rough road to fund itself for celluloid. After all, superficially, the chances and profitability of following it up with a movie more than half a decade later would probably sound like a damp squib way before it’s even given any chances, whatsoever. So what would make the people watch this movie?
- For a majority of the show’s followers to still have faith in the content and its creator a decade into its release definitely says something;
- The show in itself boasted of brilliant writing for most of its run; and of course
- Kristen Bell, who’s had a great run with Frozen, looks very much in form and character, in comparison to quite a few of her other films (When in Rome and You Again being prime examples)
The question, as always, for the potential viewer would be: is it worth it?
What’s it About?
Veronica I’m-a-smartass Mars has left her past way behind. Leaving her private investigation capabilities back in Neptune, a place that she has desperately wanted to run away from, she takes giant, focused strides instead on becoming a lawyer. Whilst interviewing over law firms, however, she’s informed her ex-flame Logan always-in-trouble Echolls is in trouble yet again. And as she hits to the seedy, dubious streets of Neptune to help him, she’s hit with the unfortunate realisation that her past will never, ever let her be what she’s always fought to consider her watchword: “normal”.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The good the about writer and director Rob Thomas (also known for 90210 and Party Down) is he knows what he wants from the movie and its characters. A lot of superficially gratuitous, seemingly crowd-pleasing elements thus definitely look very well blended in. The movie bears a distant eighties neo-noir atmosphere; one where the characters are deliciously extravagant-yet-grey. For better or worse, the characters have gone through a drastic evolution from where the show left off. Some equations remain the same, and some change. A lot of the writing symbolises a core human element: you can run away from yourself, but ultimately it catches up with you. The downside? Thomas also seems hell bent on manipulating the character to return where she started off. All this, to please the fans? For convenience? Writer’s nostalgia? Possibly a bit of everything.
Technically, the film’s supported by well-handled cinematography, what with vibrant-yet-oddly-flat colour tones and appropriate mood lighting that dynamically ranges from natural and realist to seedy and moody-colorful. The camerawork is very steady, allowing the few action set pieces (car getting run over) to be fully absorbed by the viewer. It helps that the edit is consistent and doesn’t get frantic in intense situations. Eye-trace editing in a few scenes is both noticeable and commendably performed. The music is appropriately composed, allowing the fans to settle into their comfort zone, and noobs to relish the movie further. Additional music featured in the soundtrack are clear winners, what with spiced-up dance number Stick Up by Max Schneider and Chicago by Sufjan Stevens taking the cake. Fans will definitely notice and applaud the existence and sly usage of the unplugged version of the source material’s motif track We Used to be Friends, originally composed by The Dandy Warhols and covered by Alejandro Escovedo.
To Perform or Not to Perform
Kristen Bell is totally in the skin of her character – the sassy, smart mouthed protagonist – and it’s no surprise, really. She’s ably handled this very character for three solid years. The same goes for Jason Dohring and Ryan Hansen as Logan and Dick Casablancas respectively. The thing about Dohring’s character – as also those of Tina Majorino and Percy Daggs III (playing Mac and Wallace respectively) – that will strike followers of the show, is the evolution. A lot of things have changed with these three, and it shows. Enrico Colantoni is adorable as Veronica’s example-of-a-father Keith Mars, and the relationship between father and daughter beautifully translates to screen. Chris Lowell as Piz is efficient. Jamie Lee Curtis, like Dax Shepherd, reflect Bell’s interesting working relationships with the mentioned people interestingly. The prize-winning cameo here, however, is that of James Franco’s as himself, which hits bullseye on both hilarious and witty.
Overall? The movie hits a couple of roadblocks of manipulation, convenience and crowd-pleasing nostalgia filled cameos. That’s not to say that the movie is bad at all. The movie is miles, miles away from bad. It’s actually a smartly written mystery that both revives a popular character, and lays strong foundation for those only just being introduced. Filled with witty writing, a ton of delicious Easter-eggs, and smooth character evolution, this movie is definitely a great catch. Catch it in cinemas while you can, and digitally if you can’t (or couldn’t).
Star Rating: 3.5 / 5
PS: The binge-watch that led to the movie was definitely worth the while.