MRR Review: "Veronica Mars"

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Feature film adaptation of the TV series, 'Veronica Mars', spawned from a Kickstarter campaign by the show creator Rob Thomas and bringing back the cast including star Kristen Bell.
3.5

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Rating: PG-13
Length: 107 minutes
Release Date: March 14, 2014
Directed by: Rob Thomas
Genre: Comedy / Crime / Drama

"Veronica Mars" marks the first feature film to be completed with funding entirely from the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform. Director Rob Thomas and lead actor Kristen Bell oversaw the truly fan-based fund raising effort. In planning the flick, the duo also avoided a common tactic used in Hollywood when a small screen show is writ large on the silver screen.

Oftentimes, a movie production team feels the need to beef up the original televised concept by adding new and exotic locations, special effects or other cinematic flourishes. In the case of "Veronica Mars," the movie, director Thomas and company followed the television template closely, a formula that proved popular with the TV show's fans, which comprise what many times is described as being a "cult-like following." Fans of the television show will find the location, set-up and pace of the film entirely familiar when viewing the film.

Familiar faces from the TV series populate the film. These include Jason Dohring as Logan Echolls, Veronica's highs school sweetheart. At the start of the film, Logan is arrested for murdering his pop star girlfriend. The arrest occurs at a moment in time when Veronica herself is about to accept a position as a "high-powered" lawyer in New York City. Hearing of her former significant other's plight, Veronica returns home to the fictional town of Neptune, California. She arrives at precisely the time of her 10 year high school reunion. (The reunion provides the ideal excuse to bring even more of the original cast members back together for the film.)

During the TV run, Logan was something of a "bad boy." The moniker still fits even as the character became a young adult. Despite that image, Veronica believes it is one thing to be pegged a proverbial bad boy and something entirely different to be an actual murder. Convinced of her former love's innocence, Veronica embarks on an investigation to find the real killer of Logan's girlfriend.

The movie features no surprising plot developments. The arc is predictable, yet engaging at the same time. Through the course of the murder investigation, Veronica and Logan begin to feel a rekindling of the spark that existed between them a decade earlier. This results in the primary subplot of the film, after the one pertaining to finding the pop-star's murderer. The arc involves Veronica attempting to work out whether she wants to continue on her life in the Big Apple or give it another go with the boy (now a man) from her past.

The character of Veronica Mars was the breakout role for Kristen Bell. She knows the character well and clearly enjoys the role. She effectively transitions Veronica from a girl detective a la Nancy Drew to a more complicated woman concerned about the welfare of a person who was a primary component of her younger life, a person who may enter her life again more significantly because of her return to her childhood environs.

Fans of the TV show will be glad to see other familiar faces on the big screen, including the seemingly perpetually grumpy character of Veronica's father, played by Enrico Colantoni. He strikes an entertaining and believable chord as a father who does not particularly approve of the prospect of his successful possibly leaving a vibrant, interesting and successful life in New York for what he worries might be something less in the small town of Neptune.

The remaining supporting players, most of whom are also familiar faces to those who follow what is now the "Veronica Mars" franchise, provide moviegoers enjoyable turns on the screen as well. Although they have aged, they remain the same likable crew that drew a loyal following that truly made this film a reality.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5