Review: Veronica Mars (2014)

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Director: Rob Thomas | 103 minutes | comedy, crime, drama | Actors: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, Chris Lowell, Percy Daggs III, Tina Majorino, Krysten Ritter, Martin Starr, Gaby Hoffmann, Andrea Estella, Jerry O’Connell, Francis Capra, Ryan Hansen, Brandon Hillock, Maury Sterling, Sam Huntington, Max Greenfield, Daran Norris, Amanda Noret, Jonathan Chesner, Christiann Castellanos, Akiko Morison, Eden Sher, Christine Lakin, Lisa Thornhill, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dax Shepard, Ken Marino, James Franco, Justin Long

When you get a large group of people – strangers, in fact – around the world to shout to their computer screen, “Here, take my money!” because you need that for a project, then you have a good sales pitch. Rob Thomas, producer / writer of the hit TV series “Veronica Mars” (2004-2007), not only got his intended budget (in fact, almost three times as much), he also broke a handful of records: the loyal fans of the series spent so much money in the proverbial drawer that crowdfunding site Kickstarter and the Veronica Mars movie became world news within a few days of the campaign’s start.

The series, which, much to the chagrin of the Marshmallows (as the loyal fans call themselves) only ran for three seasons, is set in the fictional town of Neptune, California. High school student Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) is the super-smart daughter of a private investigator (who used to be the local sheriff). When she’s fifteen, her best friend is murdered. To deal with that loss, Veronica decides to expose the killer. One thing leads to another and soon the news spreads that the spunky teenager can be hired for detective work, something that her fellow students are only too happy to take advantage of. In the final season, Veronica is out of high school and is going to study at Hearst College, where she can further hone her detective skills. “Veronica Mars” (2014) is set ten years later. Veronica appears to have left Neptune at the age of nineteen. She is still in a relationship with Piz (Chris Lowell), whom she fell in love with in season 3. Never again has she benefited from her private detective badge. In an interview with a prestigious law firm in New York, Veronica shows that life is far behind her. But when her ex-boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) asks her for help because he is suspected of killing his girlfriend, singer Carrie Bishop, it turns out that Veronica hadn’t yet gotten rid of detective work. Initially, all she wants to do is help him choose the right lawyer, but Veronica wouldn’t be Veronica if she didn’t get to the bottom of who wants to frame Logan and who the actual killer of Carrie is.

The first half of the film is – for connoisseurs of the series – a pleasant reunion with many familiar faces. Call it a reunion, and gosh, let’s just organize one. Veronica is slowly but surely being sucked back into the Neptune of that time, where corruption is still rampant. Will she and Logan get back together? Will Veronica pursue a promising career as a lawyer – as her father wants – or will she work with him again? The questions raised halfway through this film are simultaneously the weakness and the strength of the film. It makes “Veronica Mars” an excellent fit for the series. The fans will be glued to the image. On the one hand you want the film to be over so you know how it ended, but on the other hand you want it to last for hours – because it is so enjoyable … But precisely because it feels so familiar, ‘Veronica Mars’ – the movie, more of a lengthy episode. You could see it as a pilot of the non-existent season 4.

Is “Veronica Mars” nice for non-experts? It is difficult to say. The mystery is not very strong, and since you don’t know the characters, the intro might be a bit long-winded. But those who like sarcastic humor can have fun and it is obvious that the characters are well developed, even if this is the first encounter. If you can postpone watching this movie until you’ve seen the series, it is recommended. Then you will also understand why so many people have put money into this. And luckily those people got their money’s worth.

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