Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Veronica Mars: Heroine Addict

Critics have written so much about all the fan service in the 2014 Veronica Mars movie that it will undoubtedly come to a shock to those few Veronica Mars fans who have yet to see the movie that it has absolutely no scenes like this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or even this:

Of course, those who have complained about the fan service in the Veronica Mars movie usually don't mean this kind of fan service. What they really mean is that the movie is mainly aimed at fans of the Veronica Mars TV series. And being such a fan, it would be dishonest of me to pretend that the movie was not aimed at people like me.

Then again so what? James Bond films are usually aimed at fans of James Bond, Harry Potter movies are usually aimed at fans of Harry Potter and of course, the last three Star Wars movies were aimed at fans of the first three Star Wars movies. Such aim does not necessarily mean that the cinematic result will make for a bad movie. Then again it does not necessarily make for a good movie, either. As always, you have to judge by the final result.

As for the matter of fan bias, well, I have seen quite enough bad movies aimed at various fan groups that I can readily understand why people might be hesitant to see yet another movie that indulges in "fan service." Then again it is not unusual for the same people who object to one type of fan service to have little or no problems with other types of fan service. For example, a lot of critics of the Veronica Mars movie had no trouble with the last Star Wars trilogy -- which had their share of fan service -- and vice versa. And as much as I would like to think the best of such critics, I would be a lot more comfortable with doing so if such critics were honest enough to admit if their real problem with the Veronica Mars movie was that it was not made primarily with them in mind. Then again I see many movies that are not necessarily made for me in mind so I may be a tad biased on this subject. Indeed, as a Hispanic Catholic half-breed living in a predominantly White non-Hispanic Protestant society, I would be very surprised if most of the movies available for viewing in the U.S. were made for the likes of me. But that is a subject for another day.

Anyway, it is not as if the movie is likely to be that hard to understand if you have never seen the TV series upon which it is based. I must admit that it has been quite a few years since I saw the last episode of the series and since then, I have not bothered to memorize every minor character just in case I had the opportunity to see a new episode. Then again, it did not seem very hard for me to imagine any non-fan seeing the scene in which a snobbish woman acts mean to Ms. Mars at her high school reunion and not concluding that the snob in question was a former nemesis of Ms. Mars during the original series. (After all, I did not remember that particular character's name and yet I was able to figure out who she was.) Indeed, most complaints about the movie's fan service seemed to have little if any confidence in the intelligence of would-be moviegoers. (Though I guess director Rob Thomas should be flattered by the implication that his movie was just too smart to be understood by non-fans.) And it didn't help the case of the movie's detractors that their complaints seemed to echo similar complaints that were made about the 2005 movie Serenity -- a movie that was quite popular with many people who had never seen Firefly (the TV series upon which it was based).

In any event, if I had to pick the most bothersome aspect of the Veronica Mars movie, it would not be the "fan service" or the limited screen time enjoyed by actress Jamie Lee Curtis but rather the way the movie finds it necessary to give a reason why Veronica Mars does the things that she does. Apparently, it is not enough for her to want to do the right thing or help her friends; she has to have a "problem" which makes her do all her heroic deeds. Indeed, Hollywood has gotten so used to presenting its audiences with dysfunctional characters that it seems difficult to present a genuine heroine on the big screen nowadays; instead, it is more fashionable to present a dysfunctional character who just happens to do heroic things. Perhaps this is the inevitable result of a society that has been given many reasons to become cynical due to the Iraqi War and the recent economic crisis. Then again you can find reasons to be cynical in almost any period of history so it seems odd to witness this recent cultural war against heroism. And especially odd to see it take its toll on a character as likable as Veronica Mars.

Then again a part of me is glad that the Veronica Mars movie proved to be as good as it was. After all, I used to be a big fan of the Harry Potter movies -- but I gave up on the series after I found myself hating the movies more and more -- so much so that I did not even bother to see the last film in the series. For that matter, I also used to love the Star Wars movies -- but I found myself rolling my eyes more and more at some of the excuses film critics would make for the second trilogy and if it were not for the fact that my late sister's children like those three movies so much, I would be a lot more vocal on this site about my dislike for them.

Anyway, like most moviegoers, I don't go to the movies hoping to have a bad time. But I don't like the idea of pretending I did not see a bad movie just because other people than me seem to like it. So while I am not likely to be the most objective critic of the 2014 Veronica Mars movie, I would like to think that I am among the most honest. At least I hope so.

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