'Veronica Mars' review: Fans get the film they wanted

Rating

3.5 Stars3.5/5

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:27 PM ET

For a movie, Veronica Mars seems a lot like an extra-long TV show.

Fortunately, that's exactly what the fans wanted.

For devotees of the much loved series, this long-awaited Veronica Mars feature film is a five-star proposition.

For everyone else, Veronica Mars is a pleasant diversion. (And you need know nothing about the young sleuth or her past exploits on TV to like it.) The film is a charming exercise in contemporary girl power, with mystery and romance thrown in for good measure.

Kristen Bell puts her approachable persona to good use in the role of Veronica, a semi-outcast from Neptune, Calif., who never ran with the cool kids in high school. Still, it was made clear she'd outstrip them all eventually.

And she has. The movie opens with Veronica being interviewed for a top job with a New York law firm. A brief voiceover from the title character fills in most of the past, explaining her need to get out of corrupt little Neptune and make a life for herself. Veronica has walked away from Neptune, sleuthing, and her rocky relationship with Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), building a new life as a fledgling lawyer on the opposite coast and dating her college boyfriend (Chris Lowell).

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Then comes news of a murder in Neptune. The victim is one of Veronica's old classmates.

Accused of the killing: Logan Echolls.

When he calls Veronica for her help with his case, she can't say no.

So it's back to Neptune, and a bit of mystery-solving cleverly organized around Veronica's 10-year high school reunion. Not that she'd attend — but she's coerced into going by her old buddies Mac (Tina Majorino) and Wallace (Percy Daggs III); her encounters there with all the mean girls and rich boys from her past are as vindicating as you might imagine.

It doesn't take long to figure out that the murder case involves several locals.

Going back to Neptune starts to change the bright future Veronica has built for herself. She is still attracted to Logan, for one thing, and she slips back into her detective work without hesitation.

If anything, Neptune needs her now more than ever.

She'll have some tough decisions to make.

Brisk and clever (and often very funny), Veronica Mars has a terrific ensemble cast that includes a couple of stand-outs: Krysten Ritter, back as Gia Goodman, for example, and Gaby Hoffman, who turns up as a character named Ruby Jetson. The story also has a handful of cameos and inside jokes, including a bit with James Franco; there's a general irreverence to the writing that's one of the movie's best features.

Another plus is the careful marriage of grown-up reality and adolescent expectation. As a character, Veronica Mars is an interesting reminder that we carry the past with us always, despite the notion that it's something we can leave behind.

The rabid fans known as Marshmallows are going to love this movie. When they raised all that money on Kickstarter to make sure this movie got made, they knew what they were doing.

The uninitiated can be assured that Veronica Mars is entertaining from start to finish.

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Kickstarter crowdfunding brings Veronica Mars to life

Just ask your psychiatrist - actors are often motivated by a need to be liked.

If so, nobody's feeling the love more than Kristen Bell this week, as her Veronica Mars feature film opens in theatres.

And the fans bankrolled it.

The TV show became a movie thanks to a hugely successful campaign on Kickstarter, an outpouring of money and affection from the 'Marshmallows' that revived the adventures of the sarcastic young detective.

Actually, it did more than that. It made Kickstarter a household name. The crowdfunding platform helps bring creative projects to life - art, music, design, film, technology, comedy, theatre, etc. -and operates as a sort of Dragon's Den on the web. Show the people what you've got, and if they approve, they'll meet your funding goal with contributions.

Look up Veronica Mars on the Kickstarter website, and you'll discover that some 92,000 backers pledged $5.7 million dollars to make sure the movie became a reality. (They're not investors, in this case: fans donated for the chance to get a T-shirt or a role as an extra. Their motivation was to get the movie made, not to profit financially.)

Veronica Mars is a Kickstarter record-breaker: it's the fastest project ever to pass the $1 million mark. And the $2 million mark. It's the highest-funded film project ever, and the third-highest of any Kickstarter project. And it has more backers than any other Kickstarter project, ever.

Bell played Mars for three seasons on TV between 2004 and 2007, until the show was cancelled. Veronica Mars' fans are legion, and when the time came to step up, they did. It probably helped that show creator Rob Thomas went out of his way to leave loose ends when the show ended. As he recently told the New York Times, he had no intention of making it easy for the CW network to cancel the show.

Trying to find out how the story ends kept Veronica Mars' followers hungry.

They should find the new movie entirely satisfying.

Twitter: @LizBraunSun

Liz.braun@sunmedia.ca


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