Veronica Mars Movie
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Veronica Mars Movie

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I have one sweeping generalization that appears to be truly axiomatic; "there is always the proverbial exception to prove the rule". Recently I have seen this demonstrated with horror films as filmmakers dare to defy the lamentable trend of substituting torture for such things as plot and character development. Another trend that has been a perpetual source of lackluster flicks is to attempt to resurrect popular television series with typically ill-conceived concepts has resulted in the ruination of fond memories. Which brings us to the film at hand, ‘The Veronica Mars Movie’, which breaks the mold of television series reboots. First and foremost people, and by that I mean the fans, cast and show runners, really wanted the movie to be made. Soon after the conclusion of its third and final season the series’ creator, Rob Thomas, had prepared a screenplay to pick up some loose threads left by the cancelation. Unfortunately Warner Brothers decided not to provide the funding necessary to move forward. In March of 2013 Thomas and the series leading lady, Kristen Bell began to put together their own financial support utilizing the web oriented company, Kickstarter, Inc. By offering incentives for various levels of contributions they were able to reach their goal of $2 million less than 10 hours after the site opened. In less than a month they secured almost $6 million in financing. This broke most of the records for this mode of fundraising. It proved than one side effect of success is to prove the viability of including the fan base in the preproduction phase of filmmaking.

Ultimately, Warner Brothers approved the films production with the goal of video distribution. There was a time when direct to video was a scarlet letter indicative of a film not considered worthy of a theatrical commitment. Now, the paradigm has changed drastically. With streaming video sources and the smaller distributors readily able to release movies on DVD or MOD, manufacture on demand these alternative means of getting a movie to the public have become respectable and widely embraced by talented independent filmmaker who otherwise would never be able to grow into their artistic potential. The success story of ‘The Veronica Mars Movie’ demonstrated persistence pays off and fans are a powerful force in the entertainment industry more proactive than traditionally considered. After many of the original cast agreed to reprise their roles production started mere months after the Kickstarter campaign concluded. This is a faster turnaround than most major studios could hope to achieve. All of this effort would be a waste if the movie couldn’t live up to the quality of the original series or the anticipation of all those who invested their time, effort and money. The good news is the film was released; the great news is it is a hit.

The movie starts off nine years after the wrap of the final season of the television show which roughly places it current. Veronica (Kristen Bell) has graduated high school and moved out of Neptune, California moving to New York City. There she obtained a job with a high end law firm, Truman-Mann and Associates. On the usually turbulent personal front Veronica is in a stable relationship with fellow Neptune resident, Stosh 'Piz' Piznarski (Chris Lowell). During the interview process Veronica learns that her ex-boyfriend, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) has gone into a career path suitable for his socio-economic status, the military, specifically a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. In a fashion highly reminiscent of after school job as a private investigator the two are reunited under dire circumstances. Logan has been accused of murdering another transplant from Neptune, Carrie Bishop (Andrea Estella). For her life seemed to have worked out, well, at least superficially. Carrie became a pop star under the nom de voyage of Bonnie DeVille. As is frequently the case of young people attaining wealth and notoriety quickly at a young age Bonnie, nee Carrie rushed headlong into a self-destructive life style. Veronica agrees to help in a strictly delineated way; advise Logan as to which of several law firms viding for his case will best serve him. That might have been the initial understanding but Veronica is still the same inquisitive, diligent young woman she was in high school and her return to her home town reignites her need to get to the bottom of a mystery.

Upon her return to Neptune Veronica reunites with her father, Keith (Enrico Colantoni), once the sheriff of the community and then a private investigator that employed his daughter as a teenaged sleuth. The tenth anniversary reunion of her graduating class an event Veronica had not been planning on attending. She gets roped into going by two friends and ad hoc partners, Wallace Fennell (Percy Daggs III) and Cindy 'Mac' Mackenzie (Tina Majorino).one of Veronica’s shadier associates, outlaw biker, Eli ‘Weevil ‘Navarro (Francis Capra) has settled down becoming a stable family man. as Veronica and her version on the Scooby Gang dig deeper into the demise of Bonnie/Carrie it becomes obvious to Ms Mars that this case is inexorably entwined with her most important and personal case; the death of her best friend, Susan Knight (Christine Lakin). After a prank played on Veronica the party turns into a melee. In the aftermath Veronica meets up with another group of former friends; Luke Haldeman (Sam Huntington), his fiancée Gia Goodman (Krysten Ritter) and Stu ‘Cobb’ Cobbler (Martin Starr). They were with Susan on the night she died.

The film succeeds well in what the fans demanded. Considering they fundamentally paid for the movie and whose diligence and loyalty made it possible this is only proper. With a few notable exceptions the core cast of characters was all in attendance. Those absent were contractually obliged elsewhere and did not decline on principle. The TV show was a lot of fun, not only for the youthful target demographic but for anyone interested in tightly constructed mysteries. This was a modernization of the Nancy Drew niche but executed with an edgier twist. This is why the series originally garnered such a devoted following that kept the idea of a film alive for a decade. This is also a prime example of a serious flaw in the ratings centric approach the television network executive retains. It is a business after all and metrics which serve as financial indicators are necessary and ‘Veronica Mars’ , the TV show was unable to sustain the necessary numbers to justify its continuation. One of the best examples of these fiduciary criteria for success can be demonstrated with the original ‘Star Trek’. Although it was consistently under the cloud of cancellation and lasted three seasons it engendered an entire sub section of our popular culture. Obviously this franchise is nowhere close to that status but it certainly does prove that even in a bottom line industry like TV and movies quality can be recognized and the fans can win out.

One thing that has been on the minds of most fans is whether another movie is potentially feasible. The ending of the movie did resolve some open issues that plagued Ms Mars from the first episode but the circumstances were left in such a way as to readily accommodate a sequel and potentially beyond.

Posted 05/01/2014

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