25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: MONEY TRAIN

CAST

Wesley Snipes (Blade)
Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games)
Jennifer Lopez (Jersey Girl)
Robert Blake (The Restless Gun)
Chris Cooper (The Kingdom)
Joe Grifasi (The Deer Hutner)
Scott Sowers (Under Siege 2)
Skipp Sudduth (The Cherry Orchard)
Vincent Pastore (Revolver)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Flex Alexander (One on One)
Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)
José Zúñiga (The Dark Tower)

Image result for money train (1995)On Christmas, we meet foster brothers John and Charlie. They work as transit cops patrolling the New York City subway. When a mugging occurs, John and Charlie chase the mugger into a subway tunnel, and all trains traveling in their direction are halted. But their harsh transit captain Donald Patterson, allows the money train to continue. John and Charlie avoid getting hit by the train; however, when transit police at the next station witness the mugger running toward the money train, they shoot him dead. The mugger is revealed to be a young teenage boy, which triggers a brawl between John, Charlie, and the other transit officers. Patterson blames the two for causing his money train to arrive late.Image result for money train (1995)Charlie asks John to borrow $300 to buy a Christmas present, but Charlie instead uses the money to pay off some of his gambling debts to the sleazy night club owner Mr. Brown. Brown intends to have Charlie killed by throwing him off a building, but John bursts in and interrupts, telling Brown that he has the money Charlie owes him. Brown reveals to John that Charlie is $15,000 in debt, so John offers to have the money delivered in a few days. Brown accepts and lets Charlie live. During their night shift, John and Charlie are introduced to Grace Santiago, a decoy transit officer newly assigned to their unit. Both brothers immediately take a liking to her. During their patrol, a serial killer known as the Torch robs a token booth and sets it on fire. John and Charlie rescue the booth worker and put out the fire, but the Torch manages to escape.Image result for money train (1995)At a local bar, Charlie reveals a plan to rob the money train in order to pay off their debts, but John, judging the caper impossible, rejects the idea. Later that night, the two brothers and Grace are assigned to patrol the money train. As Charlie discovers a grate in the floor and a ladder leading to Central Park, a brawl breaks out between John and another officer, quickly involving the entire squad. Patterson again blames the two for the incident and also accuses them of taking some train money, but even after it is found that a collection agent miscounted, Patterson continues to insult them. At the bar, Charlie tells John that the best time to rob the money train would be on New Year’s Eve because of looser subway security and because the subway makes the most money on that date: up to $500,000. The plan involves entering the train through the metal grate when the train has stopped, driving it to the maintenance ladder, and escaping into Central Park. John remains reluctant to attempt the theft. John gives Charlie the $15,000 he needs to pay back Mr. Brown, but on the train, Charlie loses it to a thief. He goes to Brown to explain but is brutally beaten by his men. When Charlie comes back home, he looks at John’s house from his window and he sees Grace and John sleeping together. Charlie later tells John that he’s happy for him, but he’s clearly saddened by Grace’s rejection. To nab Torch, an ambush is arranged for which Grace is disguised as an attendant at a station token booth. Torch notices this and, to distract the police, pushes a man in front of a moving train, killing him. Torch sprays gasoline on Grace, but before he can light it, Charlie alerts the other officers, who shoot at Torch. John pursues him into another station, where they fight. Torch is burned by the gasoline he’s carrying and pushed under a moving train, killing him. Patterson fires Charlie for ruining the ambush, and when John tries to defend Charlie, he’s fired as well.Image result for money train (1995)John then heads to the strip club of the mobsters who beat up his brother and were threatening him for failing to pay up his gambling debts and, after storming inside, beats them all up utilizing his Kung-Fu skills,  including knocking down the criminal boss of the organization, Brown, with a 360-degree kick.Image result for money train (1995)Charlie decides to go ahead with his robbery plan. John is reluctant to do anything about this, but Grace persuades him to save Charlie from trouble. When the money train stops at one of the stations, Charlie enters the train from beneath and drives it to the maintenance ladder, but he can’t escape with the money due to the presence of a group of policemen. Meanwhile, John reaches the train and persuades Charlie to drive further to prevent their arrest. Knowing that Patterson will direct his team to trip the train’s brakes, the duo bleeds the brakes. Patterson then orders a steel barricade erected to stop the train, but John increases the speed of the money train to its maximum so that it smashes through the barricade. Transit control officer Kowalski declares the money train a runaway and starts clearing tracks, but Patterson diverts the money train onto a track occupied by a passenger train to keep it from having a clear path, putting innocent people at grave risk. The money train rams into the passenger train and then slows down, but speeds up again because it’s in full throttle and rams the train again. It repeatedly keeps ramming the passenger train with the increasing risk of derailing it and killing everyone on board.Image result for money train (1995)Since the money train now had no braking power and the throttle lever is jammed at full power, the brothers decide to throw it into reverse, derailing it and killing both of them but allowing the passengers to live. Charlie comes up with an idea and positions an iron bar in such a way that when the money train rams the other train once more, the bar trips the reverse lever. Both of them climb on top of the train and proceed to the front. When the trains collide one more time, the reverse lever is activated and both brothers jump across to the other train as the money train derails tumbles around several times knocking over several support beams (much to the horror of Patterson who witnesses the whole crash) before finally screeching to a stop on its side just before the station.Image result for money train (1995)The brothers try to escape during the commotion but are spotted by Patterson. They pretend to have come to help him, but Patterson rudely insults them. Fed up with his constant abuse, the brothers punch him in the face. As he shouts out to his team to arrest them for assault, Grace comes rushing in and arrests Patterson for endangering the lives of the people on the passenger train. When the two brothers exit the station, they are in Times Square as the countdown for the New Year begins. During the celebration, John realizes Charlie is carrying a money bag containing over $500,000, much to his dismay. The film ends with John and Charlie walking into the distance arguing over the money.Image result for money train (1995)Snipes and Harrelson look like they’re having a ball in this fast paced action caper. It’s a fun ride with plenty of action so I enjoyed it for what it was.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES

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CAST
Kristen Bell (Frozen)
Percy Daggs III (Izombie)
Teddy Dunn (Jumper)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Francis Capra (Heroes)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)
Lisa Rinna (Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Lisa Thornhill (The Family Man)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Human Target)
Harry Hamlin (Clash of The Titans)
Kyle Secor (The Purge 3)
Brad Bufanda (A Cinderella Story)

Alona Tal (Cult)
Michael Muhney (The Young and The Restess)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Steve Guttenberg (Police Academy)

Season 1:

An Echolls Family Christmas

Veronica and Keith decorate their Christmas tree. Meanwhile, Duncan (Teddy Dunn) dances around drunkenly at a poker party with Logan, Weevil (Francis Capra), and two others, Sean (Kevin Sheridan) and Connor (Travis Schuldt). Weevil wins $5,000 from Logan when they both go all in. However, when Logan opens his money box, he finds that the money is missing. Weevil grows angry and asks each of the other members for $1,000. The next day at school, Duncan confronts Weevil, who stole his laptop. Veronica approaches him, and Duncan tells her about his problem. Duncan tells Veronica that his computer contains some private information regarding their past relationship. Veronica asks Weevil for the computer back, but he refuses. Weevil explains why he was at the card game and says that Logan had an opportunity to hide the money during the game. Logan’s mother, Lynn (Lisa Rinna), visits Keith and tells him about threatening letters that a mysterious person sent to her husband. Later, Veronica talks to Duncan, who gives his side of the story. Duncan also blames Logan. Later, Duncan confronts Logan about stealing the money, but he refuses to give any details. When Keith visits the Echolls’ house, he finds a pumpkin outside their front door with Aaron’s face on it and a knife through it. Veronica stops by the Echolls’ house and talks to Logan, and he says that he thinks that Connor stole the money.
Veronica visits Connor’s movie set, and she questions him about the poker game. However, he does not know who could have stolen the money. Veronica attempts to visit Sean, but his father turns her away. After deducing that the pumpkin probably has something to do with a halloween encounter or incident, Keith goes to the caterer of the party Aaron was at that day. The caterer tells him that Aaron was having an affair at that party. The next day, Veronica talks to Sean, who tells her that he thinks that Weevil stole the money. Keith talks to Aaron, who admits to the affair and says that it was with his agent’s wife, Monica Hadwin (Emmanuelle Vaugier). Veronica frets about Duncan’s diary before Veronica comes up and makes a deal with Logan: He will host another poker game so Veronica can determine who the thief is. At the poker game, Veronica reveals her findings: Duncan was faking being drunk in order to win the money, not steal it, Connor was simply using a muscle enhancer, and Logan is not the thief because his room was messy (and Veronica figures that if he hid the money, he wouldn’t tear apart his room looking for it. Veronica figures out that Sean is the criminal, not Weevil. Sean stuffed the money into the recycling and picked it up the next morning. Sean and Weevil go off by themselves, presumably so Weevil can punish him.Keith talks to the caterer again and asks her to describe the woman she fired. The poker guests then go to Aaron Echolls’ party. Veronica, off by herself, finds Jake Kane and confronts him about the pictures of her taken by his security chief, Clarence Wiedman. Jake screams at her that he doesn’t know, and Keith views the scene. Jake then angrily talks to his wife, Celeste (Lisa Thornhill), who actually sent Clarence to take the pictures. The majority of the guests go outside to sing Christmas carols while Aaron is confronted by his stalker, the woman whom the caterer fired. The stalker stabs Aaron, but the other guests do not notice because they aren’t there. Keith tackles the stalker, and Lynn calls for an ambulance as Logan looks on, ending the episode on a cliffhanger.
An excellent first Christmas episode for an iconic show.

Season 2: One Angry Veronca

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It is almost Christmas break at Neptune high. Veronica tells Duncan (Teddy Dunn) that Meg (Alona Tal) is pregnant, and Duncan says that he already knew because of the letter he got previously. Dick (Ryan Hansen) comes up and invites Veronica and Duncan to a party while informing them that Meg has woken up. Veronica decides to sneak into the hospital. Woody Goodman (Steve Guttenberg) tells Keith that someone has stolen the Lilly Kane-Aaron Echolls sex tapes. Keith agrees to help him with the case. Veronica and Duncan visit Meg, who talks to them. Meg says that her parents want to give the child up for adoption and don’t want Duncan to have a say in the matter. After Duncan leaves, Meg asks Veronica to prevent the adoption if “anything happens to” her. That night, Veronica learns that she has jury duty. Veronica is voted jury foreman. Keith talks to Sheriff Lamb, who says that the Sheriff’s department is secure. One member of the jury gives the facts of the case—two men are charged in the assault of a woman named Anissa. The prosecution and defendant have very different accounts of the incident. Veronica takes a vote, and the vote is 11 innocent, 1 guilty.
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Keith interrogates another member of the Sheriff’s department but gets nowhere. The holdout identifies herself and makes the other jurors question their votes. Keith talks to Leo D’Amato (Max Greenfield), who says that someone probably sold the tapes. Keith talks to an acquaintance in journalism, who agrees to contact the tabloids. One of the bikers comes up to Veronica and threatens her about the jury case. The holdout makes more deductions that support the guilty vote. Keith interrogates Logan before the journalism insider tells him that the sex tapes are on the open market for $500,000. The jurors take another vote, and another juror and Veronica have switched over to guilty. Veronica decorates the apartment for Keith. Veronica finds out that Anissa’s “pimp” was actually a sports star. Veronica ties up some loose ends that show that the defendants are guilty. However, one juror refuses to change his vote no matter what. The entire Sheriff’s department received an email about the sex tapes.
Logan (Jason Dohring) has the tapes and is watching them, crying. Afterwards, Logan burns the tapes. Keith comes in and finds out that Logan bought the tapes. The remaining juror changes his vote, believing that the defendants will appeal and win. After, one of the jurors invites Veronica to Heart College. Veronica finds that her car is vandalized. Leo actually stole the tapes in order to pay for his sister with Down syndrome to go to a private school. Leo knowingly sent the tapes to Logan. Later, Keith tells Veronica that Meg has died, but her baby daughter has survived. On New Years’ Eve, Veronica hears a knock on the door, and Wallace (Percy Daggs III) appears. They spend New Years’ Eve together.Related image
 A great Christmas episode, seeing Veronica do jury duty is hilarious.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – PRESIDENT EVIL

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PRESIDENT EVIL

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CAST

Kristen Bell (The Boss)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Percy Daggs III (Izombie)
Michael Muhney (The Young and The Restless)
Francis Capra (Heroes)
Enrico Colantoni (Powers)

GUIEST CAST

Robert Ri’chard (The Vampire Diaries)
Michael B. Silver (I Am Sam)
James Jordan (True Blood)
Ryan Devlin (Deck The Halls)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Blake Shields (Heroes)
Ryan Pinkston (Bad Santa)
Krista Kalmus (Fired Up!)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Ed Begley Jr. (Batman Forever)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
Dianna Agron (Glee)

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Veronica shows one of the rape victims (Krista Kalmus) the photo of a suspect, but she doesn’t recognize him. In criminology class, Veronica does a case study of Weevil (Francis Capra), and the class enjoys it. After the study, Veronica tells Weevil that she’s dating Logan (Jason Dohring), and he reacts negatively. Veronica then walks into Mars Investigations and finds Cyrus O’Dell and his wife (Jaime Ray Newman) talking with Keith, while Veronica herself does some detective work. Keith informs Veronica that Dean O’Dell’s stepson is dying and that he wants Keith to find the boy’s biological father. At Mercer’s (Ryan Devlin) party, two masked men enter and steal everyone’s valuables, including the necklace that Lilly gave Veronica. Wallace (Percy Daggs III) is failing his mechanical engineering class, a subject in which he wanted to major. Meanwhile, Keith tracks down the husband, and Veronica accuses Weevil of robbing the party.
Image result for veronica mars president evilAt the meeting, Dean O’Dell’s wife asks the ex-husband to give their son a bone marrow transplant. Meanwhile, Sheriff Lamb (Michael Muhney) arrests Weevil for the robbery. Veronica visits Weevil in prison before she decides to look into a pizza delivered to Weevil’s house. Sheriff Lamb tells Keith that the ex-husband has disappeared before accusing Keith in the ex-husband’s disappearance. Keith thinks that Dean O’Dell was involved in the disappearance, but when he visits Dean, it turns out that Dean’s wife and stepson have disappeared to a hospital in Mexico, presumably taking the ex-husband with them. Wallace visits a “tutor”, who gives him a mysterious “study guide” before going back to for the “answers.” Veronica notices the masks being used in a short film, but they were stolen. When they are in Mexico, Dean O’Dell reveals that he lied to Keith about their whereabouts.
Image result for veronica mars president evilVeronica tracks the casino robber down to a volunteer police officer. She has evidence, and the police comes to arrest him. However, they don’t find the necklace. At the hospital, Keith hesitates when O’Dell asks him what he would do if Veronica were in danger. Veronica gets her necklace back from the perpetrator’s daughter. Because he gave bone marrow, the ex-husband now has a much more favorable divorce settlement. Veronica tracks down the suspect in the photo, Wang Yi, but his roommate tells Veronica that he is Claire’s boyfriend.Image result for veronica mars president evilVeronica Mars will be one of my favorite shows of past, this episode although being a Halloween themed is also very important to the overall season 3 episode. As a standalone episode its also fun to see Veronica and Logan in Halloween gear. all in all a great episode from a great show.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: STIGMATA

CAST

Patricia Arquette (True Romance)
Gabriel Byrne (End of Days)
Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones)
Nia Long (Big Momma’s House 2)
Rade Šerbedžija (X-Men: First Class)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Jack Donner(Power Rangers In Space)
Thomas Kopache (The West Wing)
Portia de Rossi(Scream 2)
Ann Cusack (Sully)
Patrick Muldoon (Starship Troopers)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)

In the Brazilian village of Belo Quinto, Father Andrew Kiernan, a former scientist and a Jesuit priest who investigates supposed miracles, examines a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe weeping blood at the funeral of Father Paulo Alameida, who had experienced stigmata. While Andrew is collecting evidence, a young boy steals the rosary from the father’s hand. The boy later sells it to a woman in a marketplace, who sends it to her atheist daughter, Frankie Paige, living in Pittsburgh.Frankie is attacked by an unseen force while bathing, and receives two deep wounds on her wrists. As the wounds are treated, the doctors cannot find the cause. Frankie asks a priest if he is Andrew Kiernan, but the priest says he is Father Derning, the lights in the train flash, and Frankie is whipped from behind by an unseen force. While Frankie is hospitalized again, the priest sends security tapes showing the attack to the Vatican, and Andrew is sent to investigate.Andrew interviews Frankie, believing her wounds may also be stigmata. When she tells him she is an atheist, Andrew tells her that stigmata is when the deeply devoted are struck with the five wounds that Jesus received during the crucifixion. Frankie begins to research on her own what the cause could be. Her head begins to bleed, the third stigmata wound caused by the Crown of Thorns. Frankie runs home, where Andrew is waiting, and then runs into an alley. As Andrew pursues her, Frankie smashes a glass bottle and uses the shards to carve symbols on the hood of a car: when Andrew approaches her, she yells at him in another language.Andrew takes Frankie to Father Derning’s church, and the Vatican translates what she was yelling in Aramaic. The next morning, Andrew returns to her apartment to find her writing on the wall, now covered in Aramaic. Frankie talks in a male voice, speaking Italian. Wounds appear in her feet, the fourth wound of stigmata. Andrew emails photographs of Frankie’s apartment wall to the Vatican, where Brother Delmonico recognizes the words and deletes the pictures. He tells Andrew the words are from a document the church found that looked to be an entirely new gospel. Father Dario shows the pictures to Cardinal Daniel Houseman, who also recognizes them. Delmonico phones Marion Petrocelli and tells him the missing gospel has been found in Pittsburgh.Andrew goes to Frankie’s apartment to find the wall she wrote on painted over, and Frankie attempts to seduce him. When Andrew rejects her, she attacks him and denounces his beliefs in a male voice, ending with Frankie levitating off the bed, crying tears of blood. Houseman and Dario arrive with Derning and take Frankie to another church, sending Andrew to Derning’s. At Derning’s church, Andrew meets Petrocelli, who tells him the words Frankie has been writing are part of a document found outside Jerusalem they believed to be a gospel in the exact words of Jesus. Petrocelli, Delmonico and Alameida were assigned to translate it, but Houseman ordered them to stop. Alameida refused and stole the document to continue translating it alone, having been excommunicated by Houseman.Petrocelli tells Andrew that the document was Jesus telling his disciples that the Kingdom of God is in all of us and not confined to churches. Petrocelli tells Andrew that Alameida suffered from stigmata. Andrew races to the church where Frankie is, while Houseman and Dario attempt to perform an exorcism on Frankie. Frankie shouts at them in a male voice, and Houseman attempts to strangle her. Andrew stops him, and the room is set on fire. Now believing Frankie is possessed by Alameida’s spirit, Andrew offers to be Alameida’s messenger instead. He walks unharmed through the fire to retrieve Frankie, bidding Alameida’s spirit to depart in peace. Some time later, Andrew returns to Belo Quinto and finds the original documents for the lost gospel in Alameida’s church. Text describes the discovery of the Gospel of St. Thomas, believed to be the closest to the actual words of Jesus stating that the Catholic Church refuses to recognize the document as a gospel and considers it heresy.I loved this film, both for it’s interesting film quality and it’s thought provoking script. I believe it had an important message for us all to ponder created by excellent acting and beautiful film imagery. The mystery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has been a subject avoided by the Church since their discovery in 1945. I appreciate controversial filmmaking.

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – SEASON 4

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)

 

Starring

Kristen Bell (The GOod Place)
Jason Dohring (Izombie)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Percy Daggs III (American son)
Francis Capra (Heroes)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
David Starzyk (Bring it On 5)
Adam Rose (Santa Clarita Diet)
Ryan Devlin (Big Shots)
Julie Gonzalo (Freaky Friday)
James Jordan (Wind River)
Dawnn Lewis (Izombie)
Kirby Howell-Baptiste (The Good Place)
Patton Oswalt (Two and a Half men)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld)
Izabela Vidovic (Supergirl)
J. K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Tyler Alvarez (American Vandal)
Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)
Mido Hamada (Unknown)
Kyle Secor (The Flash)
François Chau (The Tick)
Logan Miller (Escape Room)
Josh Duhamel (Transformers)
Patrick Cox (2 Broke Girls)
Rodney Rowland (Legacies)
Barry Livingston (Argo)
Clark Duke (Kick-Ass)
Jacqueline Antaramian (Side Effects)
Paul Karmiryan (In The Vault)
Lukas Gage (American Vandal)
Christopher B. Duncan (Legacies)
Patrick Wolff (Starship Troopers)

Chino and the ManIn Hulu’s revival of Veronica Mars, the title character (Kristen Bell) visits one of the many men she put behind bars as a teenager. Realizing that she’s still working as a private investigator, he snipes, “That was your job in high school, right?” Television shows are a product of a particular time in the lives of their characters, creators, and audiences. One of the biggest problems with the recent trend of belated-sequel seasons is that they try to act like nothing has changed for any of those groups when, say, a 32-year-old Rory Gilmore shouldn’t still be acting like a 20-year-old. This issue should be especially acute for Veronica Mars, which in its original run drew much of its power and verve from presenting a hard-boiled gumshoe who looked like she had just quit the school dance team. (She had, actually, in the wake of her best friend’s murder.)Chino and the ManBut the new eight-episode Hulu season is keenly aware that its heroine is stuck in neutral. It’s less surprising for her as an adult to be doing stakeouts and fending off gangsters at gunpoint. But it’s also sad and self-destructive — in a very film-noir kind of way — that she’s retreated to the role she had before she was old enough to vote. When her high school frenemy Weevil (Francis Capra) asks what’s wrong with her, she cracks, “You know, there are a range of opinions.” She spends as much of her narration beating herself up for mistakes and character flaws as she does helping us follow the complicated case that’s brought her back to television. And Bell is just as charismatic, vulnerable, and slick with the banter as she was when she could pass for an 11th-grader.newgirl-ep708_sc9-ray_1203_originalVeronica creator Rob Thomas presciently set the original series in a California beach town with no middle class — only the ultrarich and the people who work for them. The setting works even better amid our present-day class warfare, and the plot involves a series of bombings that may be connected to a movement to drive out the city’s few remaining mom-and-pop businesses. Chief among the early suspects: “Big Dick” Casablancas (David Starzyk), a real-estate mogul (and holdover from the original series; he’s the father of Ryan Hansen’s Dick) publicly insisting that “we need to get back to a better time.” There’s a healthy mix of new faces, including Patton Oswalt enjoying his celebrity as witness to the first bombing; J.K. Simmons at his most charming as an ex-con now working as Big Dick’s enforcer; Kirby Howell-Baptiste as a bar owner Veronica befriends; and Izabela Vidovic as a teen reminiscent of Veronica back in the UPN days. And Veronica of course works the case with her beloved father, Keith (Enrico Colantoni, appealingly relaxed as ever, even as Keith battles health issues), while still trying to make things work with high school flame Logan (Jason Dohring, who apparently lives at the gym now).9a8851bc-3c87-458d-9481-8e4ea386bca3-vmars_101_md_2021r_fThis is the second time Bell and Co. have returned to this world: A 2014 movie introduced us to Veronica as an adult. Perhaps because the film was funded by Kickstarter, Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright (who also co-wrote the new season) leaned hard into fan service, with a mystery that was largely an excuse to bring back as many old favorites as possible. It was fun in spots, but a violation of the bleak noir ethos of the original series, which was at its best when it denied the audience what it wanted and gave them what the story demanded. The Hulu version also features a host of familiar faces, like Max Greenfield as Veronica’s ex Leo (now an FBI agent looking into the bombings), but they turn up only when the plot calls for them. And the ending to this new mystery feels satisfying both to the narratives and to the themes of Veronica’s life as a woman who can’t stop looking for the truth, no matter how much it hurts.Keep Calm and Party OnThe conclusion is darker than some fans may want, but feels like a necessary corrective for this new phase of our heroine’s life. It’s a terrific return to form for one of television’s all-time great underseen gems

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS (MOVIE)

CAST

Kristen Bell (Frozen)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Francis Capra (heroes)
Percy Daggs III (Izombie)
Chris Lowell (Enlisted)
Tina Mojorino (Santa Fe)
Enrico Colantoni (Powers)
Gaby Hoffmann (Wild)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
Martin Starr (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Amanda Noret (City Guys)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Duane Daniels (Murder on Vine)
Lisa Thornhill (Rush Hour 3)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens)
Justin Long (Mom)
Dax Shepard (Hit and Run)
James Franco (Spider-Man)
Eddie Jemison (IZombie)
Jessica Camacho (The Flash)

Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)The world of cult TV is a peculiar one. Television shows are canceled all the time, but through the world of DVDs, Netflix, and Amazon, shows pulled from network schedules before their time now have the opportunity to grow a loyal, faithful audience long after the grass has grown over their graves.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2014)Those fans often wonder if they’ll ever see their favorite characters again, and every once in awhile that wish comes true. Seven years after it was canceled, Veronica Mars, which became a cult phenomenon since it premiered its last new episode on The CW in 2007, returned for one more mystery, this time on the big screen. As any true fan can tell you, Veronica Mars was a witty, one-of-a-kind teen noir series that tackled everything from rape and murder to class warfare.A social outcast after her sheriff father (Enrico Colantoni) wrongfully accused a very rich, very powerful man of murdering his daughter (who was Veronica’s best friend and the sister of Veronica’s boyfriend), Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) was largely on her own in a town full of obnoxious and privileged children of movie stars and CEOs. But the Southern California town of Neptune was divided along class lines. Veronica didn’t fit in with the popular kids, known as the 09-ers, after her father’s wrongful accusation, but she didn’t fit in with the working class either on account of her former association to those same 09-ers. She became a fierce, independent teen whose weapon of choice against her enemies was her mind, her wit, and the occasional stun-gunning. Each episode of the series tackled a new mystery for Veronica to solve, while an overarching larger mystery unfolded over the course of the entire season. It’s not every day a series like Veronica Mars shows up on TV, and so it makes perfect sense that Veronica Mars in its film incarnation be as unique as the series from which it was born.veronicamarsFunded by fans via a Kickstarter that broke several records and reached its goal of $2 million in less than 12 hours, the Veronica Mars film was a labor of love for all parties involved. The movie, which looked great despite not having had the funds it would have had if it had been completely backed by the studio, felt like an extended episode of the TV series. Some people might look at that and see a failure, but to any Veronica Mars fan, that’s the highest form of praise. Instead of an ending, the movie felt like a brand-new chapter recently discovered at the end of a favorite book.Series creator Rob Thomas has always been cognizant of the fact that the film would not exist if it weren’t for the fans, and has said on more than one occasion that it was imperative that they make a film that would do right by the fans who donated their hard-earned cash to bring this beautiful work to life. And that’s what he did. He created a film that he knew the fans would love. And he should know, because he’s probably the series’ biggest fan outside of Kristen Bell herself. Without Thomas and Bell keeping alive their dream of one day shooting a film, fans might have given up hope of ever returning to the seedy seaside town of Neptune, California.Kristen Bell and Ryan Hansen in Veronica Mars (2014)By the time Veronica traded in her pin-straight hair and fancy New York lawyer duds for the jeans, jacket, and beach waves uniform she wore for three seasons, it was clear Veronica was never going to go back to the seemingly perfect life she had in New York with Piz (Chris Lowell). It doesn’t matter if everyone knew going in that she’d end up choosing Neptune over New York and ex-boyfriend Logan (Jason Dorhing) over Piz, because it’s exactly what the fans wanted to see. It’s what the fans paid upfront to see. It’s the open-ended ending the fans waited seven years for. In short: The film delivered.rs_560x415-140311131242-1024.Veronica-Mars-Kristen-Bell.ms.031114_copyThe movie, which followed the first case Veronica had worked since she transferred to Stanford after one year at Hearst College, and which happened to coincide with her 10 year high school reunion, felt exactly like that: A reunion. Because Thomas wanted to please the fans, the movie attempted to bring back as many original cast members from the series as possible, from the still-bitchy Madison Sinclair (Amanda Noret), to the dirty and shameless Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino), who might actually be living in a van now, to the effortlessly charming Deputy-now-detective Leo (Max Greenfield). The movie was a parade of familiar faces, but to fans of the series, it felt a bit like home. Each time a character appeared on screen, it was a wink and a nod to fans.Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)It makes sense that the person to pull Veronica back to Neptune and the private eye world was Logan. He’d been part of the reason she’d left town and their self-proclaimed epic love story was left unfinished. If I take issue with anything in the film, however, it would be the way in which it portrayed her relationship with both Logan and the job of being a private investigator as a drug. Over the course of the series, it was clear her relationship with Logan was toxic, but Logan has grown up and matured considerably in the nine years since we last saw him. Yes, he was quick to resort to violence when Veronica’s sex tape played at the reunion, but that doesn’t change the fact that Logan has come very far since his self-destructive days. He joined the navy and became a pilot. He became a stabilizing force for his girlfriend, Carrie Bishop, whose murder was the central mystery of the movie.Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)Keith’s vocal opposition to Veronica leaving New York and the opportunities there felt real and were grounded in reality. He’s a father who only wants the best for his daughter. But it was never going to happen. The mystery of who killed Carrie Bishop wasn’t the most exciting or intricate case Veronica has ever tackled, but once again, the movie had to find a way to work in a case that would draw Veronica back to Neptune, as well as find a way to work in the cameos fans desperately wanted to see in a short, finite amount of time. Revealing Martin Starr’s new character Stu “Cobb” Cobbler to be Carrie’s murderer made sense, because having it be someone fans knew and loved would have been crushing to the audience. The fact that Dick really never knew the truth about what happened to Susan Knight on that boat was in line with the Dick that fans have come to love or come to love to hate. In short, everything that happened in the film felt just right.Success in this industry will always be measured by how much money a film makes, and there is a special dollar amount the movie must bring in to warrant a sequel, but to fans of the series, none of that really matters. It was never about the money, it was about seeing Veronica, Logan, Keith, Wallace, Mac, Dick, Weevil, and Piz again. Veronica Mars’ success will never be measured in dollar signs, but in whether or not the film made fans happy, and to that end it definitely succeeded.

REVIEW: PLAY IT AGAIN, DICK

Play it again dick poster

CAST

Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Kristen Bell (Frozen)
Enrico Colantoni (Powers)
Kyle Gallner (Smallville)
Amanda Noret (Bunny Whipped)
Percy Daggs III (Izombie)
Christopher B. Duncan (My Name Is Khan)
Rose McIver (Izombie)
Daran Norris (Team America)
Robert Buckley (Killer Movie)
Ryan Devlin (Deck The Halls)
Francis Capra (Heroes)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Chris Lowell (Enlisted)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Lisa Thornhill (The Family Man)

piad7This online series of short 10 minute episodes is worth watching, especially if you’re a fellow Marshmallow. Though it’s less spinoff and more meta with a humorous look at the industry through the eyes of a “Dick” like Ryan Hansen It’s fun to watch with most of the actors and characters we all love making appearances. So if you’re up for seeing some of your favorite actors and characters from Veronica Mars, then this is a must see – even if it’s not ‘quite’ Veronica Mars.

Photo: CWThe series takes a fictionalized version of Ryan Hansen (who plays Dick Casablancas – rich party boy) as he tries to get a Veronica Mars spinoff series off the ground about Dick as a private eye. This interpretation of Ryan is closer to Dick in personality than perhaps what he’s like in real life, which creates a familiar atmosphere for the fans.

Photo: CWHowever, what makes the series work and ultimately hilarious is how it pokes fun at the industry itself. In real life, there’s no way the Dick Casablancas show would make it on the air. Dick as a private eye? And when the fictionalized Kristen reveals how silly she thinks the idea is (and only agrees to be on it because she sees Ryan as a brother, not to mention the zero chance of it getting picked up), we can’t help but agree and laugh at her predicament.rs_560x415-140922161834-560.Play-It-Again-Dick-Ryan-Hansen-Jason-Dohring.ms.092214In a clever scene, they have Ryan pitch his show to real life CW executives as he somehow convinces them to give him money to make the pilot. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Where I stand, the more Veronica Mars content the better. By having this online series, it keeps the show relevant instead of in the archives of the past. Here’s to hoping for another future movie, or even better a limited series order. Till then, we all have Dick. And  it is fun to watch.