In retrospect, I don’t know why we ever thought it would be good. I mean, Veronica Mars is not one of those shows that just got better and better and was cancelled at its peak. It was a show that had an amazing first season (one of the best on television) and then declined. Which is not to say that the remaining seasons weren’t good (I watched and enjoyed them). All I’m saying is that the creator got more than enough time to show the world what he could do with the franchise, and there was never any evidence that he had any new tricks to wow people with.
The reason the first season worked so well was because everything fit together: both the protagonist and her father had a personal stake in the murder, and their reputation and place in the world depended on solving it, and they were thoroughly at odds with their entire community over it, and the nature of the murder (and the subsequent investigation) struck at the heart of the economic inequalities in this fascinating setting that the show had constructed.
And then they solved the mystery.
How was lightning going to strike twice?
As a murder-mystery, the movie was kind of anemic. The murder is, well…it’s just a murder. And the case had fewer twists and turns than the average episode of Law and Order. That didn’t really seem to be the focus of the show. The focus was mostly on fanservice: showing us all these characters ten years later.
And that was marginally enjoyable, but even there the performances themselves felt very strained. Maybe it’s because I only just (within the last month) re-watched the first and second seasons of the show, but the performances in the movie felt more like people doing impressions of those characters. Everything was stilted and awkward, almost like people trying to recreate who they were ten years ago…
It’s worth comparing this movie to Serenity, the movie that they made from the TV show Firefly. Again, not a particularly great movie, but that one at least took advantage of the cinematic form to do things with the property that it couldn’t have done onscreen (resolve a major mystery that’d run through the show…and also kill some folks off).
Still, the movie’s worth watching if you’re a fan. I appreciate fanservice as much as anyone else, and it’s fun to see learn what became of people like Gia and Vinnie Van Lowe and Madison Sinclair and Dick Casablancas after an interval of ten years (actually, Dick was the only character who legitimately gave a decent performance).