Veronica Mars Blu-ray Review
In the interest of full disclosure, let me begin by saying I never watched a single full episode of VERONICA MARS while it was on television. During the time it was on, both my wife and I were interested in the show and even watched part of one episode featuring a friend in a small role… but I just never was able to make VERONICA MARS into appointment television. Maybe I was tired of the premise of High Schoolers who are just too smart for their age. The whole visage created by Kevin Williamson and Joss Whedon on such television as DAWSON’S CREEK and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER was admittedly a lot of fun, but VERONICA MARS just didn’t make the cut for me.
After watching just a few minutes of the finished film VERONICA MARS, I deeply wish that I had given it a chance when it was on. VERONICA MARS is more than a little fun, even if you’ve never seen the television show. It exists as a standalone but contains many nods to the fans who brought it to life. Thankfully these moments are not so frequent as to alienate a new initiate who enjoys the casual banter between Veronica (Kristen Bell, fresh off of FROZEN) and her father. Even the friendships, relationships, and specifically the love triangle between Veronica, Logan (Jason Dohring) and Piz (Chris Lowell) feel effortless and organic.
VERONICA MARS begins with a quick recounting of Ms. Mars’ past exploits, presented in one of the most unique and fun ways I’ve seen exposition presented – as Veronica’s resume review during a job interview. Jumping right in, Veronica has given up both her life (including family and friends) in Neptune and forsaken her private investigator past. While she doesn’t appear wholly happy with her life, Veronica is on track to become a powerful attorney for a very large law firm until… she gets a call from old flame Logan asking her to help him find a lawyer to represent him. Logan Echolls is accused of killing his longtime girlfriend and the case doesn’t look good. Veronica can’t seem to say no to Mr. Echolls and soon finds herself back in Neptune.
Veronica, having given up the P.I. life through which she always identified, refers to her thirst for the truth as an addiction she cannot quench even now, nine years after she quit cold turkey. And the energy returning to her character as she picks up her camera and finds the tools of her lost trade, visceral as lifeblood, is obvious and quite honestly a lot of fun to watch. Soon she’s diving right back in, dealing with the locals with equal parts snark and flair. Once again, as someone who never watched the show, there are certainly moments that are obvious nods to the fans, like the string of caricaturized cameos that is the high school reunion scenes. But this can be forgiven, I think, given that this entire film is a love letter both to and from the fans who gave the filmmakers the money to bring it to the screen (and now, thankfully, to blu-ray).
Where things get a little bit tougher is in the filmmaking itself. At times flashy and stylish, the general feel of the movie is very much like a television show. It just feels kind of flat. Whether this was an artistic choice to pay homage to the hardcore fans or a crutch for the filmmakers (including series creator Rob Thomas) I do not know, but the movie plays more like a short-form mini-series than a feature film. This is a little disappointing given the breadth of characters and the likeability of the actors in key roles. It’s also disappointing that lead actor Jason Dohring (Logan) is given too little scenery to chew during the film as the moments he’s on screen with Veronica are phenomenal. Part of this is due to the slightly off-kilter plot that initially poses Logan as a grizzled possible suspect for Veronica but quickly abandons that electric possibility for less-than-stellar side plots that just don’t pay off.
My final verdict – if you’re a fan of the show, this is a no-brainer. If you’ve never seen the show but enjoyed the other high school dramas back in the day I highly recommend this either as a primer for the show (how I’m using it) or as a standalone story. Great fan service for some obviously great fans. My hat is off to the filmmakers for going the extra mile to make this happen. Hopefully we’ll get a HEROES movie (also featuring Kristen Bell) next. C’mon Kickstarter, make it happen.
VERONICA MARS BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.40:1) The video presentation of the VERONICA MARS movie is quite nice but plays flat. Stylistic choices aren’t cohesive enough to create a unifying theme and leave you a little bewildered.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio is very well presented, giving VERONICA MARS dynamic and immersive range.
Behind the Scenes: By the Fans: The Making of the VERONICA MARS Movie (55:43) An homage to both the fans and the series, this is an interesting featurette discussing the process of making the movie and the fans who brought everything to life. The coolest thing part is getting to see the entire Kickstarter process from launch to shooting to the final film. Definitely worth it for any fans out there, including a TON of interviews with the fans who got the coveted ‘extras’ spots and got to be on set and in the film.
Behind the Scenes: More On-Set Fun This more specific special feature includes six different but shorter making-of featurettes about the VERONICA MARS movie. It’s pretty fun
Welcome to Keith Mars Investigations (02:54) This feature focuses on Veronica’s father’s office, including a tour with Enrico Colantoni (who plays Veronica’s father).
Game Show with Kristen Bell and Chris Lowell (04:30) The actors play a game of questionnaire and get a lot of time to improvise together.
On Set with Max Greenfield (03:10) Max Greenfield found stardom in the years since VERONICA MARS went off the small screen. He’s fun to watch once again here.
Veronica Mars’ Backers (04:45) More interviews with fans of the VERONICA MARS series who got to be an extra for the film.
It’s Not All About You, Monkey (02:59) Ken Marino (Vinnie) and the director had a fun time with the actors on scene (including the extras) and gave everyone a bit of a laugh.
Young Veronica (00:58) Another short extra featuring a woman who plays the Young Veronica in the movie.
Deleted Scenes (04:20) A few scenes from the cutting room floor are included as special features for VERONICA MARS. These are a little hacky so I’m glad they were cut from the movie.
Gag Reel (04:35) Finally, the VERONICA MARS Blu-ray features a pretty decent gag reel (I especially like the scenes with Justin Long and Ryan Hansen).