Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Blu-ray Review: VERONICA MARS (2014) [Warner Brothers]

Veronica Mars (2014)

Buy the Blu-ray or DVD

The Movie

The world of television is littered with shows that are canceled well before their prime. These series may not dominate in the ratings initially, but some go on to become cult favorites over the years after their cancellation, thanks to the wonders of home video and streaming content. Occasionally, they are even resurrected and returned to fans’ screens (for examples, see FAMILY GUY or ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT). For years, VERONICA MARS has been touted by its fans as one such show that deserves a another shot, and finally, almost 10 years after the show’s initial premier, and almost 7 years after its cancellation, the fans have had their day in court.

I’m sure you’ve heard the story already, but for those who don’t pay any iota of attention to the online world, here’s the quick version… After many failed attempts at getting a VERONICA MARS film off the ground, Show Creator Rob Thomas convinced Warner Brothers to agree to let him make the film if he could raise $1 million via the Kickstarter crowd-funding website. Though many scoffed at the notion of donating to a project that hung its hat at a large studio, and was not independent in the slightest, the campaign eventually raised over $6 million; smashing records and garnering a huge amount of media coverage.

The story of its making is fascinating for sure, but the question remained as to whether the movie itself would be any good. To that, I can answer with a resounding, “Yes.”

The official synopsis from Warner Brothers is as follows:
Veronica Mars (Bell) has put Neptune and her amateur sleuthing days behind her on the eve of graduating law school. While interviewing at high-end law firms, Veronica gets a call from her ex-boyfriend Logan (Dohring) who has been accused of murder. Veronica heads back to Neptune just to help Logan find an attorney, but when things don’t seem right with how Logan’s case is perceived and handled, Veronica finds herself being pulled back into a life she thought she had left behind.
The first question that most people are likely to ask is whether or not an intimate knowledge of the series is required to enjoy the film, and the answer to that is, “No.” VERONICA MARS was designed to work as a standalone film, and even if you haven’t seen any of the 66 episodes of the original show, you should be able to follow what’s happening just fine. Of course, having a prior grasp on the series’ characters and their previous story arcs helps tremendously, but the opening sequence lays enough backstory out there to refresh fans who haven’t watched in years and catch the rest of the viewing audience up succinctly. In all honesty, I had never watched the show until this past year, when I binge-watched it via Amazon Prime over the course of a few weeks, but I think I would have been just fine without having done so. Did I probably have more fun with the movie for having watched the show? Of course, I did… But it’s not a prerequisite. 

If any criticisms can really be made about VERONICA MARS, it’s likely that people will complain that the movie essentially feels like a higher budget, extended episode of the show; a two-part affair crammed into on narrative, if you will. However, that’s probably unavoidable. After all, in the Golden Age of hour-long television drama, a 108-minute feature is kind of a drop in the bucket. That’s not a slam though, as I did enjoy the movie quite a bit, and I think it really is just the nature of the beast. VERONICA MARS may not necessarily offer anything terribly new, but it does what it was intended to; it expands the world of the show and lets us spend almost two hours with characters that we haven’t seen in a long time.

At the end of the day, I have no issues recommending VERONICA MARS. Fans of the show probably already have their copies in hand, but for the casual viewers out there, don’t be afraid to dive right in. Sure, you’ll have more fun if you watch the three seasons of episodes leading up to the movie, but don’t feel obligated to do so. While this may be the culminating moment for many a VERONICA MARS fan, I’m sure it will create some new ones as well.

Movie Score


The Blu-ray

Warner brings VERONICA MARS home on Blu-ray in a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The film's audio track is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, and there are a nice assortment of bonus features. The Blu-ray also includes an Ultraviolet Digital copy.

Video Quality (5/5)

Once again, Warner proves why they are at the top of my list when it comes to major studios and Blu-ray releases. I love the way they treat their catalog releases, and their contemporary discs are just stunning. VERONICA MARS is no exception. This is the best that anything MARS-related has ever looked; and possibly the best it ever will. Detail level is fine, blacks are strong, and the image pops wonderfully. Bravo!

Audio Quality (4/5)

The audio on the disc is very good, though this is far from your booming Hollywood blockbuster. As such, don't expect to use VERONICA MARS to show off your sound system to friends and family. Still, dialog is clear, dynamic range is good, and overall, the presentation is solid.

Extra Features (4/5)

I have to admit that I am surprised by the amount of special features on the disc. The best of the bunch is easily the hour-long Making-Of documentary, which covers the entire production; from Kickstarter through the final release. It's not quite feature length, but it's fascinating all the same and very much worth your time.

Along with that, we also get the requisite Deleted scenes, a Gag Reel, and a batch of on-set pieces. The only thing left out is a feature commentary with Thomas, Bell, and the rest of the cast. If the disc had that, I'd probably give it a perfect score in the Extras department.

  • By The Fans: The Making of the Veronica Mars Movie
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • Welcome To Keith Mars Investigation
  • Game Show with Kristen Bell and Chris Lowell
  • On Set with Max Greenfield
  • Veronica Mars' Backers
  • "It's Not All About You, Monkey"
  • Young Veronica

Final Thoughts

VERONICA MARS is not only a very good movie that continues the series in a satisfying way, but Warner's Blu-ray release of the film has a fantastic A/V presentation and a good assortment of extras. If you're a fan, this is a no-brainer... However, I also encourage the non-VERONICA MARS enthusiasts to give the movie a chance, as there is a lot to like here.

Highly Recommended!

Blu-ray Score


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