I got into Veronica Mars late, mainly because I heard Joss Whedon was a fan 1
Veronica Mars the series combined witty characters, long-running and intertwined mysteries, with a healthy sense of humor, noir and movie references. The first season was great, second was good, third had a lot of potential but dropped season-long mysteries for two shorter ones and a bunch of standalones (at network insistence).
Then it was cancelled.
The funny thing was, it turned out that the show's Marshmallow fans had as much dedication as the Browncoats, keeping the spirit alive and, ultimately, thanks to equal enthusiasm from the creators and a Kickstarter campaign, getting a movie made.
Veronica Mars the movie managed to re-capture lighting in the bottle, getting the elements that made the series great and squeezing it into one hour and forty-seven minutes. (although I have two quibbles - see below).
The mystery would have fit well into the show. It was a nice touch to make the inciting incident(s) the murders of two minor characters from a mid-season one episode. As Veronica is drawn into investigating it to help her ex-boyfriend Logan, she is forced to reacquire her investigative skills and learn how her hometown of Neptune has changed (answer: not for the better). Plenty of twists, mis-direction and surprises ensue, but the plot holds together.
But the characters are what the fans wanted and director Rob Thomas delivers, getting all of the regulars back, falling into their old patterns while acknowledging the passage of time. There's also a good sprinkling of small parts and cameos from Neptune's lesser-known inhabitants.2
Neptune also exists as a character. In addition to the mystery and human characters reconnecting, Thomas also plants the movie firmly in the world of the show, in a town where there's a brewing class war between the haves and the have-nots, where the cops are corrupt and the glamor town has a seedy side.
And there are some surprises. Seemingly out of nowhere, a couple of attacks injure some regular characters and wipe out some recurring ones, reminding us that Veronica's world is not Nancy Drew's - the stakes are high.
I raced to download Veronica Mars when it first was released and I wasn't disappointed, but I do have two quibbles:
Logan "Top Gun" Echolls - seemingly out of nowhere, Neptune's resident psychotic jackass, with a long (if mainly petty) criminal record, history of recreational drug use and inattention to studies, turns out to be a US Navy fighter pilot when he's not dating singers and being accused of murder. WTF? There's noting in his background to suggest this as a career 3 and the salary certainly wouldn't attract him. Sure, it gives us a couple of An Officer and a Gentleman and A Few Good Men Jokes, and he looks good in the dress whites, but why?
Where's the rest? The movie puts Veronica back where she needs to be - at Mars Investigations, fighting injustice in a town that's full of it. It would have been a great pilot for a new series, and I know there're books coming and if it does well they might spring for another movie or two, but like Serenity it just whets the appetite for what might have been if the show had continued.
Still, it was a fun couple of hours and I'm glad they made it, so I'll just look forward to more changes to visit Neptune.