MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Kristen Bell as VERONICA MARS
Jason Dohring as LOGAN ECHOLLS
Krysten Ritter as GIA GOODMAN
Ryan Hansen as DICK CASABLANCAS
Francis Capra as ELI “WEEVIL” NAVARRO
Percy Daggs III as WALLACE FENNEL
Chris Lowell as STOSH “PIZ” PIZNARSKI
Tina Majorino as CINDY “MAC” MACKENZIE
Enrico Colantoni as KEITH MARS
Ken Marino as VINNIE VAN LOWE
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Rob Thomas
BY KEVIN CARR
A little more than a year ago, “Veronica Mars” creator Rob Thomas embarked on an experiment. With the support of the cast of his now-defunct show from the early 2000s, Thomas created a Kickstarter campaign to fund a feature film continuation of the movie.
If you have even a peripheral knowledge of what’s happening in movies, you’ve heard of this campaign and the unexpected success that it was. Raising close to $6 million to fun the movie, the campaign was able to make this happen, and now we have the final product.
“Veronica Mars” was released in theaters in a limited run in March of this year. It didn’t break any box office records, but frankly, it didn’t need to. With the production pre-funded by the fans, the theatrical release was merely gravy, and in a way a symbolic effort by the studio (Warner Bros.) to prove faith in the film. (We won’t dwell on the angst felt by fans with the delivery of the digital version of the movie via Warner Bros.’ preferred provider, UltraViolet. Moving on…)
With all the background of the film successfully in place, the question remained whether “Veronica Mars” would be a successful from, from an entertainment standpoint. Speaking as someone who never watched the series much, and as someone who has seen his fair share of fanboy and fangirl cinema, I am quite familiar with the ups and downs of making a movie that won’t connect to anyone outside of its current fan base. (I’m looking at you, “Serenity.”)
In this respect, “Veronica Mars” is a complete success. Sure, you have to have a certain working knowledge of the characters (but a quick visit to Wikipedia should take care of that for you), but the story isn’t hinging on intimate knowledge of what happened in season 3, episode 12, for example. Plus, a rather lengthy but necessary opening titles sequence lays out the world of “Veronica Mars” quite nicely for the newcomer.
The story finds Veronica (Kristen Bell) living in New York and interviewing for positions in law firms. However, when Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) hits the news again – this time as a suspect in the murder of his girlfriend – Veronica heads back to Neptune, California, to solve the crime. There, she rekindles old friendships and starts causing problems as she used to.
Yes, “Veronica Mars” the movie plays like an extended television episode, but to make it any other way would be disingenuous to the spirit of the show. It contains lots of inside jokes, but it’s not as much fan service as a 1980s reunion special on television. Instead, it plays as a self-contained movie that is enhanced by knowing the history of the show.
Though it would have been very interesting to have a commentary on this Blu-ray, I can’t say I’m terribly disappointed in the delivery of bonus content. The money shot in the special features is the feature-length documentary “By the Fans: the Making of the Veronica Mars Movie.” This intimate behind-the-scenes look at the production chronicles the many stages of the film – from the Kickstarter campaign to the chances for the top-level contributors to get involved with the production.
Especially if you’re not coming to this movie as an original fan of the series – most likely because you didn’t actually watch it rather than having an aversion to it – this is where the story behind the story gets interesting. You see all types through the Kickstarter campaign, from the endearing to the possibly creepy. It’s all handled very nicely by the production, and it goes to show the real never-before-seen potential of a movement like this, which is to generate a demand for a film and a funding opportunity that can pretty much bypass the until-now-necessary deep pockets of Hollywood.
Beyond the fascinating look at the development of the film, there’s plenty of high jinks by the cast and crew in the behind-the-scenes features. These include the short bits “Welcome to Keith Mars Investigation,” “Game Show with Kristen Bell and Chris Lowell,” “On Set with Max Greenfield,” “Veronica Mars’ Backers,” “It’s Not All About You, Monkey” and “Young Veronica.”
Rounding out the special features are four deleted scenes and a gag reel. There’s also a digital version of the film available on the UltraViolet platform, in case you didn’t contribute to the campaign and need it downloaded. So, like I said earlier, there’s no commentary, but there’s plenty of extra goodies for the marshmallows out there.