A Few Words About A few words about...™ Veronica Mars (Feature) -- in Blu-ray

Robert Harris

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What began as a TV series in 2004, and running three seasons (64 episodes), seems to have turned into a social phenomenon, when in 2013 fans, who wanted more, received their wish, when those behind the series, offered a feature film to be potentially funded via Kickstarter, with Rob Thomas, the original guru behind the series, still firmly at the helm.

And it worked.

I was blissfully unaware of all of this, with the exception of reading about the Kickstarter campaign, but came face-to-face with the enormity of it, when WB held a fan reception (March 2014?), taking over a large room beneath one of the villas at my hotel in LA.

When I saw what was occurring, and as I passed the location several times a day, ended up chatting with cast, crew and fans, and finally understood the whole picture.

The Blu-ray of the feature has been sitting on my "must watch" pile since April of 2014, and I finally decided that I need to view it, and found it sweet, interesting, and generally beyond my expectations.

I'm a huge noir fan, and San Diego Noir can be a wonderful thing. Noir in bright sunshine is not what is expected, and occurs all too seldom. Noir is usually layered in darkness, shadow, pouring rain, and the resultant shiny streets.

Kristen Bell is Veronica, a plucky 28-ish year old, returning to her home, when she's contacted by an old friend in trouble -- and just as she's about to start a new life in NY.

It all works, and I can understand the fan-base, which turned out in droves to support the production of the feature.

Shot with an Alexa, and finished as "scope," via a 2k DI, the Blu-ray looks terrific.

Currently selling at $6 at Amazon, it's worth a shot.

Image - 5

Audio - 5 (DTS-HD MA 5.1)

Pass / Fail - Pass

Recommended

RAH
 
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Ross Gowland

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The first two series of Veronica Mars are superb. Anyone who likes the film should definitely watch them. Season three is good in parts, but the network interfered and the results are obviously. Also, I preferred the high school setting to the college one.
 

cadavra

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Robert, I'm glad you enjoyed the film; I saw it theatrically and wondered if people who were unfamiliar with the series would understand a lot of relationships and callbacks to the show. Kristen Bell hasn't done anything as marvelous since, though "The Good Place" comes close.

Mike S.
 

Robert Harris

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Robert, I'm glad you enjoyed the film; I saw it theatrically and wondered if people who were unfamiliar with the series would understand a lot of relationships and callbacks to the show. Kristen Bell hasn't done anything as marvelous since, though "The Good Place" comes close.

Mike S.
Wasn’t her mother in a ‘30s comedy short series?
 

holtge

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Watched the whole series with my family when it was on television and loved it. I agree that seasons one and two were much better than season three, but the feature film was wonderful too. Kristen Bell remains one of my favorite actresses to this day.
 

Moe Dickstein

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Can't recommend the TV series enough, especially the first season which plays out like a single mystery novel with it's single major mystery to unravel. Personally I like season 3 more than most, and if you have the DVD version you are treated to a 20 minute pitch episode made for UPN of what season 4 would have been - jumping forward several years to Veronica's joining the FBI.
 

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Frankly, I wasn't a fan of the long season-arc mysteries. The individual episode mysteries really tickled my fancy and I loved those. Season three did two short-arc mysteries as I recall rather than one long one. I actually liked that better. The thing that dragged down season three for me was that virtually the entire senior class from high school ended up at the local college acting exactly the same as they did in high school, something that certainly wasn't my college experience and just didn't ring true. I know the show had a cast of regulars it had to service, but this wasn't the creators' most inspired idea.
 

holtge

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https://ew.com/tv/2018/08/21/veronica-mars-hulu/

Anyone hear the news that Hulu is looking to revive Veronica Mars as a series? This news really makes me excited! Both the series creator, Rob Thomas, and star, Kristen Bell, are on board! According to this article, the arrangement of the proposed deal would allow Bell to appear despite her commitments to NBC's The Good Place. Marshmallows rejoice!
 
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Adam Lenhardt

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Watched this tonight on Blu-Ray. (My thoughts on the first season are available here, my thoughts on the second season are available here, and my thoughts on the third season are available here.)

I was really impressed with how it managed to both be jam packed with fan service, and tell a satisfying stand-alone story that someone who had never seen the series (like the author of this thread) could enjoy.

The world of Veronica Mars had a bigger time jump (nine years) than reality did (seven years), but they were all playing older than their characters to begin with so it plays fine. Rather than having Veronica spend those nine years Nancy Drew-ing it, they wisely filled those years with the kind of things that never would have played if the show were still on the air. And given that her last investigation in the third season led to her father losing his job and being disgraced from his profession, it makes sense that she'd have run as far away from that life as possible. By having her transfer after her first year to Stanford, and then go to law school at Columbia, she reenters the story with sterling credentials, rather than just a degree from a phony TV show college.

The first forty minutes or so are interesting, because Veronica feels like a very different person. The clothing and makeup age her. She seems more adult, with both her immense talents and capacity to leave a wake of destruction dulled considerably. It's not until she embraces being a P.I. again that the character from the series seems to reemerge. As Veronica leans into her passion, she actually seems to get younger.

The Balboa County Sheriff's Department was never exactly a force for good during the original run, but what it has transformed into here is downright menacing. I had the feeling at times watching this movie that Veronica was experiencing what George Bailey experienced when Clarence showed him a Bedford Falls in which he'd never existed. Without Veronica in Neptune, a lot of wrongs that should have been righted a long time ago have started to pile up.

I was impressed with how many characters they got back. In addition to the more or less full complement of series regulars, quite a few of the fairly minor recurring characters made appearances (Krysten Ritter as Gia Goodman, Daran Norris as Cliff McCormack, Duane Daniels as Principal Van Clemmons, Max Greenfield as Leo D'Amato, Amanda Noret as Madison Sinclair, Ken Marino as Vinnie Van Lowe, Sam Huntington as Luke Haldeman, Brandon Hillock as Deputy Sacks, Lisa Thornhill as Celeste Kane, Kevin Sheridan as Sean Friedrich, Jonathan Chesner as Corny) -- some essential to the plot, and others blink-and-you'll-miss-'em appearances.

One thing that threw me: The movie was predominantly shot in Los Angeles, while the TV show was predominantly shot in and around San Diego. Since Neptune is a vaguely located coastal community somewhere between San Diego and Los Angeles, that's not a huge deal for most of the movie, except when it comes to the small handful of standing sets from the series. Somehow Veronica's father managed to buy a nice suburban house and move out of the apartment complex on a P.I.'s salary. The sheriff's department and Mars Investigations are also different, with different sets and different exteriors, despite having a generally similar vibe to the originals. I kind of wish they'd recreated the sets exactly and either repurposed establishing shots from the series or sent a second unit team down to San Diego to shoot new establishing shots at the original locations.

The recasting of Carrie Bishop is pretty seamless, since she's in heavy makeup and wigs for most of the movie, and the few brief shots we get of her back in high school aren't very clear. I just wish they'd used photos of Leighton Meester from the original series in the "In Memorium" slideshow.
 

Robert Harris

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Watched this tonight on Blu-Ray. (My thoughts on the first season are available here, my thoughts on the second season are available here, and my thoughts on the third season are available here.)

I was really impressed with how it managed to both be jam packed with fan service, and tell a satisfying stand-alone story that someone who had never seen the series (like the author of this thread) could enjoy.

The world of Veronica Mars had a bigger time jump (nine years) than reality did (seven years), but they were all playing older than their characters to begin with so it plays fine. Rather than having Veronica spend those nine years Nancy Drew-ing it, they wisely filled those years with the kind of things that never would have played if the show were still on the air. And given that her last investigation in the third season led to her father losing his job and being disgraced from his profession, it makes sense that she'd have run as far away from that life as possible. By having her transfer after her first year to Stanford, and then go to law school at Columbia, she reenters the story with sterling credentials, rather than just a degree from a phony TV show college.

The first forty minutes or so are interesting, because Veronica feels like a very different person. The clothing and makeup age her. She seems more adult, with both her immense talents and capacity to leave a wake of destruction dulled considerably. It's not until she embraces being a P.I. again that the character from the series seems to reemerge. As Veronica leans into her passion, she actually seems to get younger.

The Balboa County Sheriff's Department was never exactly a force for good during the original run, but what it has transformed into here is downright menacing. I had the feeling at times watching this movie that Veronica was experiencing what George Bailey experienced when Clarence showed him a Bedford Falls in which he'd never existed. Without Veronica in Neptune, a lot of wrongs that should have been righted a long time ago have started to pile up.

I was impressed with how many characters they got back. In addition to the more or less full complement of series regulars, quite a few of the fairly minor recurring characters made appearances (Krysten Ritter as Gia Goodman, Daran Norris as Cliff McCormack, Duane Daniels as Principal Van Clemmons, Max Greenfield as Leo D'Amato, Amanda Noret as Madison Sinclair, Ken Marino as Vinnie Van Lowe, Sam Huntington as Luke Haldeman, Brandon Hillock as Deputy Sacks, Lisa Thornhill as Celeste Kane, Kevin Sheridan as Sean Friedrich, Jonathan Chesner as Corny) -- some essential to the plot, and others blink-and-you'll-miss-'em appearances.

One thing that threw me: The movie was predominantly shot in Los Angeles, while the TV show was predominantly shot in and around San Diego. Since Neptune is a vaguely located coastal community somewhere between San Diego and Los Angeles, that's not a huge deal for most of the movie, except when it comes to the small handful of standing sets from the series. Somehow Veronica's father managed to buy a nice suburban house and move out of the apartment complex on a P.I.'s salary. The sheriff's department and Mars Investigations are also different, with different sets and different exteriors, despite having a generally similar vibe to the originals. I kind of wish they'd recreated the sets exactly and either repurposed establishing shots from the series or sent a second unit team down to San Diego to shoot new establishing shots at the original locations.

The recasting of Carrie Bishop is pretty seamless, since she's in heavy makeup and wigs for most of the movie, and the few brief shots we get of her back in high school aren't very clear. I just wish they'd used photos of Leighton Meester from the original series in the "In Memorium" slideshow.
Tiny budget, where every dollar counted. Something had to give. Travel, sets, expensive.
 

Matt Hough

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What thrilled me on the movie disc was the bonuses where we truly see how devoted fans of the show really are. The movie was a tribute to their enthusiastic support for the show through all its ups and downs, and while I love the show and like the movie very much, I don't think I'm quite at their level of worship. Still, it's fun to see.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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What thrilled me on the movie disc was the bonuses where we truly see how devoted fans of the show really are. The movie was a tribute to their enthusiastic support for the show through all its ups and downs, and while I love the show and like the movie very much, I don't think I'm quite at their level of worship. Still, it's fun to see.
That was one thing that really struck me watching the hour-long "making of" special feature. There is something inherently exploitative about using Kickstarter to make a major studio motion picture. I don't blame Thomas and Bell for doing it, given that none of the alternatives had panned out, but it sat a little uneasy with me at the time it was announced.

But all of the people involved with the movie never forgot that all of the Kickstarter backers were their investors, even though they didn't have any profit participation in the final product. As seen in the special feature, they really worked hard to provide value to the backers who contributed $150 or more on an escalating basis by contribution amount: exclusive fan events with the cast, personally autographed memorabilia, cast-recorded voicemails, meet and greets, tickets to the premiere, access to the set as background extra during principal photography. Given all of the nightmares you hear about crowdfunding, it's nice to see this level of professionalism when it comes to ROI.
 

Will Krupp

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What thrilled me on the movie disc was the bonuses where we truly see how devoted fans of the show really are. The movie was a tribute to their enthusiastic support for the show through all its ups and downs, and while I love the show and like the movie very much, I don't think I'm quite at their level of worship. Still, it's fun to see.
I always thought that a lot of that devotion comes from the fact that VERONICA MARS was exactly the show we needed at exactly the right time. BUFFY (brilliant show) had just left our TV schedules the previous year and we were desperately looking for something to fill that void. A smart, fun show like VERONICA with a complicated, kick ass heroine was just the ticket. Kristen Bell has been unable to do any wrong in my book ever since and I'm really looking forward to the new season!
 
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Will Krupp

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Speaking of Buffy, such a great series, will this ever be out on Blu ray? Or have I somehow missed it?
I don't know, I fear it's moment may have passed. I'm pretty sure that the existing masters were finished on video and exist only in 480 so they would have to go back to the original negatives (16mm for the first two seasons and 35mm after that) and rebuild them all. They did it with FRIENDS but BUFFY was no FRIENDS in terms of audience appeal and I don't know that FOX would be willing to invest what's needed.

TV shows from that era that were shot on film and edited on videotape are particularly problematic for blu-ray release without a major investment.
 
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