Veronica Mars

Posted March 15, 2014 by in


Total Score

.5/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: mystery
Director: Rob Thomas
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Actors: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni
Length: 107 minutes
Release Date: 3/14/2014
Studio: Warner Bros. Digital (presents), Spondoolie Productions, Rob Thomas Productions
What We Thought

I can’t come up with a single adjective to describe any of its characters. I can however come up with several adjectives for this movie—none of them nice.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Unless you’re a fan of the TV series, watching the film adaptation of Veronica Mars would be like going to a high school reunion for a school you’ve never been to—you don’t know anyone, and it goes on much too long.  Sure, you might meet some new people, but you don’t really get to know them, making you wonder what you’re doing there.
     The film version picks up nine years after Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) left the fictitious beach town of Neptune, California for New York City, hoping to become a lawyer and leave her old life behind: Veronica once was a private investigator back in high school, working at her father’s detective agency, Mars Investigations.  Logan (Jason Dohring), an old flame of hers, asks her to return to Neptune to help him pick an attorney after he’s charged with the murder of his girlfriend Carrie (Andrea Estella), a drugged-out pop star.  Veronica can’t help but get wrapped up in the mystery, and sets out to clear Logan’s name, while reuniting with old friends from her home town.
     The story itself is promising.  At stake is the fate of an innocent man, who will be imprisoned if Veronica fails.  Furthermore, justice for the murder victim is potentially compelling as well.  Now, that’s all fine on principle, but not something to get wrapped up in personally the same way that Veronica is.  Although she cares about her friends, newcomers can’t empathize with her because character development in Veronica Mars is perfunctory at best across a cast of dozens, and the bland TV-grade performances fail to bring the characters to life.  Any investment in the characters is assumed from previous exposure to the TV series.  I can hear it now.  “It makes sense if you watch the TV show.”  Great, homework…
     Compare this to the sci-fi film Serenity, a successful adaptation to the similarly (and criminally) cancelled Firefly.  Like Veronica Mars, it also picks up where the TV series ended, yet at the same time, Serenity starts from scratch, introducing those not familiar with the space opera to the characters, and carefully delineating each personality.  In Veronica Mars, you learn who the characters are, but you don’t learn who the characters are.
     “We don’t care what happens because we don’t care about the characters.”  It’s a phrase repeated week after week in so many movie reviews, like a mantra.  Characters come first, plot comes second in a movie centered on human drama.  It’s so fundamental, yet so often forgotten by screenwriters, and this film is no exception.
     Yet Veronica Mars is so self-confident that it sets itself up for a sequel by leaving a subplot unresolved; a new character is introduced—late in the story, at that—and then shot by someone who hasn’t been introduced at all.  And so, we’re supposed to come back for more based upon his two minutes of screen time?
     An unresolved subplot about a side character is profoundly bad screenwriting.  Should not good, satisfying storytelling merit a sequel?  Furthermore, the incident precipitates a crisis going into the final act that has nothing to do with the main storyline nor affect it in any way.
     I’ve seen better YA adaptations than Veronica Mars.  I can’t come up with a single adjective to describe any of its characters.  I can however come up with several adjectives for Veronica Mars—none of them nice.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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