Veronica Mars, Need For Speed – Movie Reviews

Veronica MarsVeronica Mars – PG-13
Release Date: Fri 14 Mar 2014

Fans of the criminally underrated show need not worry – this movie is everything you could ask for from a television show seven years off the air. Many of your favorite characters are back, the writing is sharp as ever and the self-referential additions to the humor are pitch perfect. The decision to fast forward the story by nine years was a sensible one. No more pretending 20-somethings are teenagers, more like thirty-somethings pretending they’re 28. It works.

The first few minutes of the movie are a still-frame montage of the three television series with “present day” Veronica (Kristen Bell) giving us the short version of those events as well as what went on in the nine years since. This is a great refresher for people who haven’t seen the show recently and also does a nice job of setting up the story for newcomers. Watching the showing opening night with serious fans was a special treat as every returning face got a little cheer, particularly Veronica’s father Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni.)

There’s plenty of story, intrigue and (most of all) humor for people diving into this universe for the first time. Kristen Bell is still the silver-tongued queen of sarcasm with a smile, with Jason Dohring’s Logan keeping up whenever possible. If you liked the show even a little, checking this out is a no-brainer. If the concept never appealed to you, it may still be worth a watch for fans of sarcastic humor, noir and mystery. Highly recommended.

Cal and I saw it in the theater together and recorded a discussion in the car afterward:

Need for SpeedNeed For Speed – PG-13
Release Date: Fri 14 Mar 2014

Aaron Paul stars in this bloated adaptation of the EA video game series Need For Speed. Without much in the way of canon storytelling to draw on from the games, the movie’s plot is as basic as it gets in action movies – a simple revenge story. Only it doesn’t present the story simply enough. At 130 minutes, the movie feels unnecessarily drawn out, particularly in the first act that seems to take forever to tell us what we already know from the trailer. The character we’ve been waiting for finally dies, and Paul’s character is wrongfully accused and imprisoned for manslaughter.

Even then, things don’t move much faster as we meander into something of a side-plot getting them from New York to San Francisco to participate in the “Big Race,” put on by a very hammy Michael Keaton. A short featurette foretold the 50th anniversary 2015 Mustang would be in the movie, and it was. Thankfully, the movie wisely chose to keep that product placement to the first half of the movie as the final race against Italian supercars like Lamborghini and Bugatti would have never been believably competitive with even the fastest Mustang of all time.

The use of practical effects and gorgeous cinematography made watching in 3D a rare joy. Aaron Paul’s performance was fine, as was that of his love interest Julia (Imogen Poots.) Some of the shots are wonderful, including some early dashboard POV shots that make you feel like you’re driving the car in an extremely realistic video game. A 10 minute trim from a handful of the extremely long action scenes would have tightened things up and kept things interesting. As it was, I was bored by the cross-country action scene long before it was over, and the final climax was, well, anti-climactic to say the least. If none of that scared you away from seeing it in the theater, I would recommend a 3D screening as the images looked great overall and will give the eye more to look at during the less interesting scenes.

Cal and I saw it in the theater together and recorded a discussion in the car afterward:

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