Saturday, March 15, 2014

"Veronica Mars" (2014)

Here's your spoiler warning!

I intend to talk about the movie fully, what I liked and didn't, in detail. I'm not sure that I know anyone else personally who was a backer or as excited for the movie as I was ... or who even intends to see it (except, maybe, in passing). So I'm not concerned that I'm ruining it for anyone. And if you're concerned, just don't read.

So, "Veronica Mars." As I said, I was/am a Kickstarter backer. I loved the TV show and still feel like the first season is one of the best seasons of TV for any show ever. I watched 2 and 3, although season 3 only once until a few weeks ago when Mark got to it in his coverage. Then I found a used copy online for $15 so that I could follow along.

(Quick note about Mark Watches -- I love the site because it fulfills one of my favorite things: hearing what other people think about entertainment that I love. I enjoy listening to DVD commentary, reading episodic reviews/recaps -- even years after the show -- and just generally getting other people's take on things. I've thought a bit about the why, although not very deeply. Still, I think it's a combination of enjoying other people's enjoyment, seeing my thoughts/ideas reflected and confirmed, and having themes/ideas/allusions/etc that I never noticed pointed out. I've read great recaps of shows that I've liked but not loved, and had that writing pull things out that made me love it. Mark did that a lot for me here; as I said, I loved season 1, but Mark's enthusiasm for 2 and 3 made me appreciate them a lot more.)

I was very excited for the movie and couldn't stop smiling through most of it, just because I loved these characters and was so happy to see so many familiar faces together again on screen. The movie itself was fine and entertaining ... but not amazing. It was a nice little mystery, at least until the killer was revealed. And then I was a little annoyed.

Look, I'll give in and put the name of the killer and why it annoyed me in rot13:

Jr'ir arire zrg be frra Pboo orsber. Fher, ur fhccbfrqyl jrag gb uvtu fpubby jvgu gurz naq jnfa'g ernyyl va gur pbby pebjq gura, naq jr boivbhfyl qvqa'g zrrg rirel fghqrag jub jrag gb gung fpubby. Ohg ernyyl? Gur bar arj thl vf gur xvyyre. Fgvyy, V thrff gung Yhxr jnf npghnyyl gur xvyyre, frag gurer rffragvnyyl ba Pboo'f beqref. Ohg Pboo vf gur bar jub frgf vg nyy hc, fubbgf Tvn naq gevrf gb xvyy Irebavpn. Gur onq thl vf gur bar aba-GI fubj punenpgre (lrf, gurer ner bar be gjb bguref, ohg ur'f gur boivbhf fhfcrpg). "Irebavpn Znef" nf n fubj jnf bsgra nobhg ybbxvat orlbaq jung jnf boivbhf naq svaqvat gur gehgu haqrearngu. Naq nf fbzrbar jub'f lbh xabj, npghnyyl jngpurq n zheqre zlfgrel orsber, V fhfcrpgrq uvz sebz gur fgneg.

In that sense, it felt ... not quite inferior to the show or not in its spirit, but didn't live up to the twists and turns that I expected. Sure, some of those were there, but ... eh.

My disappointment in this respect doesn't ruin my affection for the show or the movie, however. It was great to see everyone and as long-time Logan apologist, I was really, really glad to see him with his life more or less together in a way that still feels true to his character. I wish that I hadn't been spoiled for his new career -- I wasn't actively trying to avoid knowing anything going in, but this one snuck up on me and I wish it had been a surprise.

I have a deep love for broken characters, and Logan has always been one of the most screwed up. His growth and development over the first season of the show is one of my favorite character storylines in anything ever (even if I still love Wesley's more) as he starts as the obligatory psychotic jackass before being revealed as an overprivileged teen struggling to deal with the combination of physical and emotional abuse and basically every person he loves at all either dying or betraying him in some horrible way. I've always believed that his love for Veronica snapped into place when she tears up his check in "Kanes and Abel’s," suggesting that she's one of the very few people he knows who can't easily be bought off.

I'm not sure that I'm completely on board with the return of the Logan-Veronica-Piz love triangle, although I do appreciate several aspects on it:

1. The script clarifies that Piz and Veronica have only been together for a year (I actually went back to check this). If they'd been together for the past 9/10 years (since they started seeing each other in college), then their breakup would have seemed very off to me.

2. Piz breaks up with Veronica before she goes back to Logan. First, glad to see Piz stand up for himself and call time on the relationship. He's always been more in love with her than she with him and I think he's always known that, to be honest. I'm glad to see him accept that he'll never be her first priority -- and that he deserves to be. You could argue that Logan's life/freedom is more important than Veronica meeting her bf's parents, and while that may be strictly true, it's still indicative of the fact that Veronica cares about Piz a lot, but she's really not invested in the relationship.

3. And second, I'm glad that Piz and Veronica broke up before Veronica slept with Logan. Because I have very little love/patience/sympathy for cheaters.

I've read some reviews that suggest that the chemistry between Veronica and Logan is not as strong as it used to be, and that does seem true to an extent. Keeping in mind that it's been 9 years and both have grown up a lot since then, it doesn't seem completely unrealistic, however. I have to wonder if it's an actor/distance thing. I expect that, if we're given the chance to see Jason and Kristen together more, we'd see the chemistry get stronger again.

As to the long-term potential for them as a couple, I see a much stronger chance that the two of them having an actual successful relationship this time. Assuming that Logan stays in the Navy, I think the distance might be a good thing. Logan has historically struggled with the need to protect Veronica to an extreme degree, so not being there all the time might help (of course, it could also ramp up his fear and paranoia). And assuming that Veronica can control her jealousy and fear of betrayal w/r/t Logan, the distance could give her the freedom to do what she needs/wants to do without feeling smothered.

Some random thoughts:
  • How did Logan get Veronica's cell phone number? Obviously not an impossible thing to do, but it's not like any of her friends would have offered it up.
  • Wow, Jason Dohring looks thin in this. I expect he's just leaner/more in shape, but when he's wearing the hat in the sheriff's office, he looks almost ill.
  • Kristen Bell looks great, of course, but so clearly just had her baby.
  • Ryan Hansen somehow looks like no time has passed at all.
  • I've seen photos of Francis Capra recently and he seemed to have changed the most since the show. But when he showed up on screen, he looked exactly the same. Maybe it's a movie/in character kinda thing. I was startled, though, because I didn't expect it.
  • Had to check that the TAL offices were in New York and not Chicago. Since it's a WBEZ show, I had assumed they were located there and I was so confused.
  • While sure, Veronica blows off the job offer before it actually happens, if she really wanted to take it and go back, why couldn't she just tell them that her father was in a serious car accident? Would they really check to see that she was supposed to be there on Monday and the accident wasn't until later that week? Obviously, she's already decided that she's not going back, but it seemed like an easy out if she needed it.
  • What is it about the Lamb family that produces such awful people?
  • Poor Deputy Sacks.
I do feel like I need (and want) to watch the movie again, which I probably will later this weekend. And now I want to watch the first season again too.


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