If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that Veronica Mars (2004) fans are some of the most loyal and patient people on the planet. After three stellar seasons, spanning 2004 to 2006, Marshmallows were forced to not only wait an excruciating eight years before the next snippet of their snarky protagonist landed on screens (via the Veronica Mars (2014) movie), but they even ended up having to fund it themselves. Then, just as it looked like everyone's favourite P.I. might hang up her long-lens for good, there came news that Hulu was looking to bring her back for a fourth season. Cheers erupted, fists were punched into the air and all finally seemed right with the world. That was, until the rebooted *edgier* episodes dropped this weekend and sent everyone spinning. Not because we'd received such a glorious gift a week earlier than expected. But because the more episodes you watched, the harder it was to deny that we'd been given a trash-fire, soul-sucking season, constructed with the sole purpose of destroying the sophisticated, stylish, smart and stereotype-bending show we had all come to know and love. And if you have any doubts about that statement, simply check out the supporting receipts below.
Part of what made the original run of Veronica Mars (2004) so damn good, was the whip-smart dialogue and perfectly planned cases our titular teen hero found herself embroiled in. I mean, that bomb-on-the-bus storyline that tied heartbreakingly into Veronica's own rape was a work of pure genius. The twists and turns were as well-crafted as they were impossible to spot. And the running jokes of the father-daughter relationship were honestly the heart of the series. But come 2019, while there were still plenty of the series' classic sarcasm-induced spiels, just as many quips seemed to fall particularly flat (point-in-case the whole 'cussing' gag, which would've been great had there been a pay-off where swearing actually happened). Similarly, there were many, many points where the writers just seemed to forget major plot elements from the show's past. Like Logan and Leo knowing one another. The latter sold the original Lily Kane tapes to the former back in series two and was also the person to arrest him following his brawl on the bridge earlier that very same season. So why do they act like they were just meeting for the first time at V's apartment? Then there's the fact that Veronica has like zero friends this time around. Weevil is in the bad books for taking some sort of a deal we never get the full picture on, Wallace is off being married and appears for like two seconds, Mac is mentioned once (she's in Istanbul for some vague reason), and the only person Veronica seems to have any sort of gal-pal relationship with, Nicole, is brought in almost exclusively to end up disappearing into the night (I mean, did we ever get a real answer as to why she sold her company to Big Dick just days after saying she hated the NUTT's?) And what about the slow, emotional build of Keith forgetting things, only for that to PSYCH be the medication he was on. So many let downs. So few episodes to fuck it up in. And yet, here we are.
Speaking of great writing, whatever happened to those pay-offs of old? The ones where you never saw the killer coming until the final act and there was a jaw-dropping moment where all the clues and motives just fell into place? Well, I for one don't know, because it sure as shit wasn't present here. The villain was... the Pizza guy? The one who turned out to be a copy-cat bomber, who just hated spring break after a bunch of kids once tried to drown him? So why exactly did it take him three years to exact his revenge then? And when he did, why was it on a whole bunch of randoms rather than the original perpetrators? Or was it because he wanted the notoriety that came from the many media appearances and memoirs he would publish, which is a concept that is about as original as peanut butter on bread. Even stranger is the contingencies for his contingencies he made such a big deal about. Because aside from the bomb left in Veronica's car absolutely nothing more was said on the fact. A bomb that was clearly alluded to multiple times throughout the episode, and led the writers to play down Veronica's smarts just so they could kill Logan off. So yes, I will never not be over how stupid this storyline was.
Speaking of stupid, I am calling it right now. #JusticeForLogan. There's a lot to complain about with this season, but above all is the fact that after having his father sleep with - and then murder - his girlfriend, being put on trial twice for killings he didn't commit, healthily working out his anger and trust issues, joining the navy and becoming a decorated intelligence officer and FINALLY finding happiness with his true love, Logan Echolls was just callously killed off. Like WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK. We get this is the real world and everything isn't always rainbows and unicorns. But that man deserved better than the tacky, half-arsed, rushed attempt at drama the creators wanted to imbue from him being literally ripped away from Veronica. And while there is the potential that this wasn't a true death (the old no body = no death rule), bringing him back after this would be just as underwhelming. Veronica has clearly moved on, is sans wedding ring, and is now more damaged than ever. It's no wonder really that Jason Dohring looked relatively disinterested throughout this season. I would too if I'd read the finale and realised they did my character dirty like that.
We get it, Veronica has to go through a lot of shit to make her a great detective. We've seen it a million times in the 'are they / aren't they' relationship of her and Logan, the constant desire she has to return to a job that clearly damages her psyche, and her blatant trust issues. But this season makes it very hard to agree with actress Kristen Bell, when she claims she returned to the show to provide a strong, female character for her kids to look up to. While past seasons have shown Veronica going through hell only to emerge victorious (For example: Veronica deciding she should embrace becoming a P.I. because that's what she wants for herself, rather than sticking with everyone else's opinions on what she should be doing with her life), this time around there is very little growth to be seen. Veronica drinks excessively, does drugs, rails on her boyfriend for trying to become a better person, and almost cheats. How exactly is it 'empowering' for women to basically claim that they can't be strong if they are in a healthy relationship?
Basically, as the theme song goes: "A long time ago, we used to be friends. But I haven't thought of you lately at all". Only time will tell whether this latest run will be the proverbial nail in the coffin for the show, or whether fans are eager enough to see Hulu renew a new Logan-less series. My money is on the former, judging by the variable shitstorm that is Twitter at the moment. Boy am I glad I am not Rob Thomas right about now.
1. The Departed (2006)
Undoubtedly one of Martin Scorsese’s finest films, The Departed (2006) was a violent and volatile movie experience that followed the parallel stories of an undercover cop and a mole for an Irish gang in South Boston. The film produced fine performances from Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio and although, like most Scorsese films, it clocks in at an absurdly long two and a half hours, it is still one of the most enthralling pieces of cinema ever created. Its best aspect however, is the fact that it became an Academy Award winner for Best Picture despite using the word ‘fuck’ 237 times. What most people don't know though is that it is a remake of gritty Hong Kong crime-thriller, Mou Gaan Dou or Internal Affairs (2002).
2. Star Trek (2009)
With Star Trek (2009) director J.J. Abrams was able to breathe life into a franchise that had continuously struggled with sub-par television shows like The Next Generation (1987) and Voyager (1995). Deciding to reboot the series instead of simply remake it, Abrams found a way to have the best of both worlds, including the late great Leonard Nemoy and a little bit of time travel to create wonder for a whole new generation of fans. Despite using way too many lens flares (We get it, you are artistic, but can you seriously stop blinding us,) Abrams work was fresh and fun. Space has never looked as good as it has in the hands of Abrams.
3. 21 Jump Street (2012)
Despite initial reservations about this reboot of the 1987 television series of the same name, (we really, really, expected it to bomb), this was without a doubt the best surprise hit of 2012. The new take focused on the classic trope of the ‘buddy movie’, bringing more comedy than mystery and delivering us some of the best one-liners in recent history. We’re still laughing over Jenko’s attempt to learn whilst on drugs; “One particle of unobtanium has a nuclear reaction with the flux capacitor – carry the two – changing its atomic isotoner into a radioactive spider. Fuck you science!” Just like the message of the movie, it’s not about how smart it is, it’s about how you connect with it and express those feelings.
4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
We all know how awful Mark Wahlberg's Planet of The Apes (2001) was. It practically destroyed the franchise. After that atrocity we felt sure the series would not return. But our prayers were answered in the form of the reboot / sidequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes(2011). Despite the overdrawn title, the film brought a certain sophistication back to the idea of apes becoming the next step on the evolutionary ladder. What really sold the film however was the sheer beauty of WETA’s motion capture technology. No more ape suits, no more make-up and no more Mark Wahlberg, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) was pure unadulterated performance.
5. X-Men: First Class (2011)
We’re not saying the original X-Men movies were bad. Okay the third film definitely falls into that category. But the idea of leaving the characters and universe intact while rebooting them to explore their younger versions was an ingenious proposal. Matthew Vaughn brought us the final product in X-Men: First Class (2011): a fresh, clean and clear piece. James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Laurence bring a youthful and clever appeal to fan favourite characters and breathtaking visuals paved the way for a promising trilogy.
6. Batman Begins (2005)
George Clooney’s nipple suit is image we will never be able to remove from our brains, but Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005) sure goes a long way to overcoming this. Whilst superhero movies are too often remade and rebooted there is a clear difference with Nolan’s version, mainly that it is the cleverest attempt yet. Neglecting the camp elements of the comic book character, Welshman Christian Bale brings a much needed edge and intellectual depth to his Bruce Wayne. Moreover, Nolan has clearly thought-out his adaptations, narrowing them down to a three-film scope and invoking a thematic journey for each picture (Fear in the first film, chaos in the second, and pain in the third).
7. The Ring (2002)
The movie that paved the way for a hundred foreign language horror remakes The Ring (2002) was one of this centuries best attempts at the horror genre. And what a remake it is, holding the box office record for such films with over $250 million in worldwide gross as of 2010. Not only that but it sold more than two million copies within its first 24 hours of release on video. The atmospheric thriller still holds audiences captivated today, resting on its ability to maintain suspense rather than offering shock value by piling on the gore. Kids today still hear stories about cursed videotapes and think twice. Those that actually know what videotapes are at least.
8. Django Unchained (2012)
There is very little that the original Django (1966) and Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 remake Django Unchained (2012) have in common outside of their gun-slinging revenge spaghetti western premise. Tarantino unleashes his full genius to the benefit of audiences everywhere creating rip-roaring fun. Yes the film lacks direction at times and is sloppily arranged, but these points pale in comparison to Tarantino doing what he does best: brutality and blood. We don’t watch it for its realism; we watch it for its honesty. Sometimes greatness comes in how a film never takes itself too seriously.
9. Let Me In (2010)
In a time when vampires were all the rage, Let Me In (2010) gave us a taste of what vampirism is really like; confined to the dark, craving death and stuck in an endless world of farewells. The dark and gruesome Swedish original Let The Right One In (2008) still maintains a hold over the remake, but Matt Reeves English version certainly does the original source material justice. Following it nearly take for take it deviates just enough to develop its own style and substance. Both young leads, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz, handle their characters with maturity and intensity and help to drive the narrative along. In Let Me In (2010), Reeves managed to achieve what many directors seek but hardly ever find - the glory of producing a film that does not undermine the original, but instead works as a great alternative piece.
10. The Parent Trap (1998)
Before Lindsay Lohan went completely off the rails she played precocious twins Hallie and Annie Parker in a remake of the 1961 Parent Trap film. And though many of us would rather die than admit it, she was actually very good. I'm not saying it was an Oscar worthy performance or production, but The Parent Trap (1998) manages to entrance kids to this day, something the original film never did. Explaining American camps to those living outside the United States and fooling us into believing that Lindsay Lohan really did have an identical twin sister, the film is light, family fun. It’s Disney done right.
Brothers (2009), True Grit (2010), Twelve Monkeys (1995), The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012).
Notable Never - Mentions:
Don't even get me started on Superman Returns (2006) or Johnny Depp's creepy attempt at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), The Karate Kid (2010), The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008) and Nicholas Cage's "The bees! The BEEEEEES!!!!" The Wicker Man (2006).
The Art of Thinking About Films
What makes a great film? How do you survive a horror film? Which movies deserve to be in Top Ten lists? This is the place to discuss that.
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