Veronica Mars (2014) – Review

Loyalty and what may be construed as blinkered enthusiasm have been the catalysts for many things. Here, this crowd-funded Kickstarter project gathered enough momentum from lovers of the original television series of the same name to get it across the finish line and get the film greenlit. People power. Don’t you just love it?

Well yes and no. I do love the fact that the opportunity for someone to beg for money to get their project made is a viable option and an achievable reality. However, where does this stop? If I get enough people to give me a dollar, should I make ‘my’ movie too? As Jeff Goldblum says, “you realised that you could, but didn’t stop to ask yourself if you should.” Having not seen the television series on which this film is based, yet still acutely aware of the dreams upon which all these small investors precariously hang, you have to wonder just how good an idea this was.

Hindsight will no doubt prove me wrong, however. As an example of this expectation, you don’t have to look too far. I’m reviewing it. I didn’t watch the television show, yet I am still reviewing the film. Already, the reach of the film has gone beyond the apparently rather flimsy grasp of it small screen predecessor. But does that make it any good? As it is being paid for by the fans, should it actually be allowed to be anything else? A studio risking its own money is one thing, but playing foolishly with other people’s money would not be a wise move at all. This had better work. For everyone’s sake. Otherwise this won’t be happening again, any time soon.

Kristen Bell reprises her role of the titular detective from all those years ago, drawn back to the town she went to school in to help an old friend who has been charged with murder (he is still walking around and not locked up, why is this?) and at the same time, take the opportunity to attend a school reunion and spend a few days with her father, who still lives there in the family home. Three birds, one stone.

Feeling a little too much like an extended  television episode (what would I know, I’ve never seen the show. that’s just how it feels) the script is sharp in most places and witty in others, even if the direction seems a little uninspired. For starters then, the writers have done sterling work and have seemingly honoured the literal quality of the show, mooted to be one of its strong points in various quarters.

Bell’s Veronica is a little bit sassy, confident and smart and you can see why this teenage detective would have gathered a loyal following at the time. Beautiful, smart and funny? What’s not to like, right? The character Bell plays may well be a tentpole for girls of a certain age, reassuringly brainwashed into believing that they could be like their hero, or come to that, anything they want. A nice positive message, regardless of its place in reality.

The delivery from the majority of the cast falls a little flat and at times you do wonder if you have inadvertently stumbled into a live-action re-make of Scooby-Doo as convenient plot devices are a little too commonplace here to feel natural. The narrative is, at best, convenient and if we’re brutally honest, its screams at a market that is less demanding than your usual thiller-driven cinemagoer.

In all, a failry harmless re-visit to a much loved franchise. Safe, certainly, for possibly those reasons mentioned above. Whether the responsibility placed upon the project by the method by which it secured its financing has forced it to play a little safer than we might expect. A vanilla production which will have a hard time impressing an audience outside its already wide circle of friends, even if it touches more people along the way, due to its revelatory conception. Alright, I guess, but it won’t be setting the world alight.

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