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September 2, 2014
Friday, April 11, 2014

Veronica Mars isn’t just an exercise in fan nostalgia

Kristen Bell in a scene from Veronica Mars.

After seven years of angry viewers persistently beating the drum for a movie sequel to their beloved television series, a big-screen film version of Veronica Mars was released last month and screens today at the BAFICI in the official selection out of competition.

90,000 fans contributed to a Kickstarter campaign, as series creator Rob Thomas turned to the crowd-funding site after unsuccessfully trying to get a Veronica Mars movie off the ground since the show was cancelled in 2007 after just three seasons. The initial US$2 million goal seemed unattainable, but then the money started rolling in, and US$5.7 million later, the demand for more sleuthing became clear to Warner Bros., which green-lit the movie.

The film picks up seven years after the series ended. Former teen detective Veronica (Bell) is a lawyer now, which seems about right given her talent for quippy comebacks, and she’s living in New York where she’s dating Piz (Chris Lowell), the lovable guy she met during the third season, when both were attending Hearst College. But just when you start to think how wonderful it is that Veronica ended up with a nice guy instead of brawl-happy anti-hero Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), there’s news that high school classmate and pop star Carrie Bishop has turned up dead. And the main suspect is Logan. Writer-director Thomas has a gift for well-paced, expertly plotted stories. There’s nothing predictable about the winding mystery of Carrie’s death. The pithy dialogue is there too, although he leans heavily on self-conscious winking at those in the know. The problem with jokes about Kickstarter campaigns, gibes about keeping the language PG-13 and a busker singing an acoustic version of the theme song is that those moments take the audience out of the story, whereas the best movies suck us in. Luckily, the action picks up when the dialogue stalls, with startling car crashes, cat-and-mouse games and unexpected gunshots that make for a spellbinding climax.

The most distracting component of the movie may be the lacklustre chemistry between Logan and Veronica. It used to be easy to understand why the two were drawn together even while they were trading hateful barbs. But now, especially with Veronica in a nice, stable relationship, it’s harder to see the allure.

Herald with online media

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