Monday, 17 March 2014

Veronica Mars...I didn't love it.

First off, I didn't hate the Veronica Mars film. I was just underwhelmed.  There were aspects I liked, that made my laugh and gasp but questions started pinging in my head as soon as the film finished. This doesn't mean I don't love Veronica Mars, or the cast, or the fandom, it just means my love isn't unilaterally unconditional.  My love comes with some critiques.

And no, I am not asking for my Kickstarter contribution back or anything ridiculously petty like that. I didn't hate the movie but I didn't love it either.

My good friend, Danielle, called me on the weekend to have a chat on it. (She also wrote a post on what she loved which I agree with...mostly.) I was able to view it with hundreds of other fans at the cinema on the day of its release.  I was immensely privileged.  She saw it in her living room and wanted to chat.  Straight away we realised we had experienced two very different films.  She was warm and glowy from the experience whereas I had already started a list of aspects I had taken issue with.

If you want the glowy reading experience, go to Danielle's post instead of reading mine.  I could, and will probably, infuriate you with my nitpicking.


My three major issues were as follows:

1.  Logan
Firstly, the uniform didn't fit him correctly.
He looks like a reverse lollipop.
Secondly, the whole notion that Logan Echols would become a jet pilot for the air force is preposterous to me.  Logan, who hated all authority figures, is not someone who transitions from douche boat to ace pilot.  In fact, Logan is probably not even eligible for the air force based on his horrible police record.  The only time his career mattered to the screenwriters was when a) he wore a uniform for swoon effect, 2) 'hero' status in lawyer exposition talk, and 3) to ensure open ended romantic ending.  None of it seemed to impact him as a character, or his choices in Neptune (he still hung out with/dated all the literal and figurative dicks from his past).

In having Logan 'grow up', they robbed him of his snark.  There were small glimpses but it wasn't enough.  No matter how grown up, his sharpness wouldn't have dulled. Even more concerning, the sizzle between he and Veronica was gone.  I had to rewatch the season one bathroom scene to remind myself that they could have a hot make out scene.  Logan was flat and (dare I say?) boring, so the couple was too. Why not shove an argyle sweater vest on the man and call him Duncan?

2. Crime of the Week

It was a two episode television arc with no suspense, not a movie plot with crafty machinations.  The crime was stale, needlessly involving a character none of us cared about, and alternatively required Veronica to make huge leaps of logic, or be careless.  Neither impressed me.

The crime was inherently uninspired.  The Ruby Jetson segue was a huge waste of time which would have worked better in the tv medium.  Instead, all I could think was that it was robbing time away from more compelling, and familiar characters.

3. Corruption, Neptune and the continuing story
Danielle called me a 'mulit-platform whore' when we were initially discussing our thoughts on the film.  Typically I love when a story is told in multiple mediums eg Lizzie Bennet Diaries.  I'll still read the Veronica Mars books, and watch the Dick Casablancas web-series, but I am perturbed.  Regardless of other platforms the film should stand alone.  It doesn't really.  It felt like a slippery slide into more story, the ungainly second book in a trilogy.  My point, it could have lead into more story without the narrative licence that Thomas and his co-writer took.

The presence of Weevil's woeful storyline is evidence of this.  The only scene that rang true was the hospital scene.  One rule of screenwriting is never introduce something you don't plan to pay off.  Celeste Kane shooting Weevil will be paid off...just not in the film.  Weevil turning his back on his new life will be paid off....just not in the film.  The police corruption will be paid off...just not in the film.  See the pattern?

The corrupt police force took away from the central crime (which needed to be deeper and more complex) and acted as a prop for continuing story.  A film needs to stand alone, this narrative choice did not.  Not only that but it made Weevil's story completely unnecessary.  It didn't need to exist in the film, and I wish it hadn't.

Other issues:
  • Leighton Meester was unavailable to return and play Carrie Bishop.  That's fine.  But that's the best they could do with re-casting? A limp carrot would have more stage presence than Andrea Estella.  Don't believe me?  Watch the scene where Logan's yelling at her - purple haired, blank face of nothing.
  • I love Dick Casablancas, I really do.  But he was at the scene of the crime yet again, and innocent?  His scenes were great but they were a trifle indulgent.
  • I never hated Piz like so many others but his presence was completely unnecessary.  His treatment within the film supports this.  He made no impact on the narrative, the emotional drive or really anything, despite the charm that Chris Lowell emits.  I really feel for Lowell as it was a thankless role.  (Upside fans will probably like him more now.)
  • The script had its rough moments.  "You're destined for greatness."  Really, that was a line of dialogue?  The voiceovers strayed into overbaked territory regularly but we can all agree that happened in the series too.
  • Why was Dan Lamb necessary?  Anyone? Answer - he wasn't.
  • Too much James Franco.  As a beat it played well but there was too much of him even if it provided an opportunity for the lovely Eden Sher to grace the screen.
  • More Wallace and Mac forever.

In short, I blame the screenwriters for everything I found problematic in the film.  The cast were uniformly great, the cinematography stylised and the direction lacking. I really wish I had likely it more.  Some of the parts I enjoyed but a movie is more than a sum of its parts and the whole didn't move me.

On a last (and snarky) note, I wish Thomas had spent more time working on the script, and its kinks, than writing the eighty odd Kickstarters updates that I received.  The script was written in a VERY short amount of time and it showed. And yet, I remain hopeful.


Heather C. said...

I felt the same way. It was a poorly done two episode type movie. But it was fun and I'll buy it and watch it again but you nailed all the problems I had with the film. It was forced and it showed.

Great critique!

Mary @ BookSwarm said...

I did love the movie but more for nostalgia's sake than for the brilliance of the script (because, well, it wasn't brilliant). I desperately wanted more Wallace and Mac, though. And more Daddy-daughter time.

Danielle said...

"Why not shove an argyle sweater vest on the man and call him Duncan?"


Unknown said...
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Zin said...

This was the best review I've seen on the movie! I rewatched the whole series in anticipation and was completely let down. #1 especially. What happened to Logan's personality? No spark? No sign of his devilish wit? Logan was a shell of his former self and I can't decide if it's that the lines were not there or his acting. There was so much chemistry between them in the show and nothing in the movie that the whole thing felt forced. What a disapppointment. I felt the worst episode of all 3 seasons was better than this movie.