Out Now – 14th March 2014

Veronica Mars

Need for Speed
Aaron Paul leaves the epic small screen hit Breaking Bad to star in a film adapted from a computer game that, when I used to play at least, had no real plot beyond driving cars. Still, they promise to have not used any CGI so the stunts should be pretty.

The Zero Theorem
A mediocre offering from Terry Gilliam in which Christoph Waltz is suitably eccentric but not a lot actually happens. Read my attempt at a review here. “A great big shrug from me.”

Veronica Mars
Veronica Mars has crawled her way onto the big screen thanks to her fans shelling out to get a film made. We all know that I am excited, and enjoyed the cinematic outing, but will the film have an impact? With a UK cinema release numbering just 10 venues lets hope for a breakout success and expanded release. (Also out on Video on Demand today should you not be near one of the ten cinemas.)

Under the Skin
Scarlett Johansson is an extraterrestrial prowling Glasgow in a transit van searching for male prey that mostly consist of unsuspecting members of the public. This is art house science fiction that I have been known to claim “prioritises atmosphere and visuals (not just visual effects)”. The film is dead good and if you don’t like it then I reserve the right to peer down my nose at you over the top of my glasses.

The Stag
Irish bachelor party based comedy set in the great outdoors and starring loveable Jim Moriarty from Sherlock. I’m taking bets as to whether an actual stag (you know, one with antlers) shows up at some point.

The Rocket
A boy seeks to prove that he is not a bad luck charm by entering an ominous sounding Rocket Festival. I hope someone is there to advise him not to approach the rocket after it is lit and to put sparklers in a bucket of water like we all do… right guys?

Ironclad: Battle for Blood
Turns out that Ironclad was not only a film that existed but also a film that enough people saw for it to warrant a sequel. You learn so much writing these things.

Suzanne
“The story of a family and a love affair told through the journey of a young woman called Suzanne.”

Back to the Garden
“It is a year since the death of an inspirational theatre director and teacher, and his widow is struggling to come to terms with her loss. The film is both a meditation on love and loss and an evocation of the joys and sadnesses of later life.”

Plot for Peace
“A documentary that reveals the untold story of apartheid’s fall, and the mysterious French businessman who was instrumental in Nelson Mandela’s release from jail.”

Veronica Mars – Film Review

VERONICA MARS

I’ve talked to you a lot over the years about Veronica Mars, even more so over the past few weeks. Starting as a teen noir TV series in 2004 Veronica Mars followed High School detective Veronica (Kristen Bell) as she tried to solve her best friend’s murder, figure out who raped her, and help out at her dad’s private detective agency. It was a surprisingly dark teen drama with clever dialogue and believable characters. The show was beloved by too few people and finished in 2007. Rumours of a film continuing the story were rife as usual and I was not convinced. Cue 2013 and the film has a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign which spawned a dozen imitators and more importantly raised funds for the Veronica Mars film to be a reality.

In the opening two minutes of the film a quick montage is shown summarising the traumatic teenage years of Veronica and serves as a chance for any non-fans to catch up on what they have missed. From there we see Veronica in her new life in New York City, trying to put the past behind her as she embarks on a career as a lawyer and rekindles her romance with the ever reliable Piz (Chris Lowell). Back in her childhood town of Neptune, California the world has not changed so much and soon enough her ex-lover Logan (Jason Dohring), with whom she shares an epic love story, has been accused of murder and needs the assistance of the best former teen detective he knows. Not one to deny the call of the man who has smouldered at her so often Veronica drops everything and hot tails it back to Neptune.

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Neptune brings with it seediness, drama, and pretty much every character from the TV series you could have hoped for. In the naive belief that the film still has a few surprises you haven’t read about yet I won’t go into too much detail but suffice it to say that Veronica is staying with her dad Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni) and her old school friends Wallace (Percy Daggs III) and Mac (Tina Majorino) are back by her side all grown up but still willing to get their hands dirty. When the film returns to Neptune, and in particular when Veronica finds herself at the school reunion, the film suddenly felt like a return home for the fan in me. All the characters are so familiar and throughout there are subtle nods to events that have taken place that cement the film firmly in the Veronica Mars canon.

Series creator Rob Thomas has both written and directed the film and in doing so has had to adapt both his shooting style and the way in which he stretches out the central mystery across the script. In the TV series there would often be a mystery per episode alongside a series-long arc, often involving the death of at least one person. Here in the film a murder is again at the centre and the mystery struggles a little to fill the feature-length running time. As for the shooting style it is clear that a conscious effort has been made to ensure that this film will look impressive on the cinema screen and not just when streamed online. Thomas has pulled the camera back giving every shot a little more scope and letting Neptune fill the screen alongside its inhabitants. The film may only have had a small budget but this does not harm the aesthetic as it showcases production values of a much wealthier shoot and while dialogue heavy scenes do dominate there’s a stunt or two thrown in and nothing ever feels limited or compromised.

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Dealing with themes including murder, betrayal, blackmail, and corruption Veronica Mars has lost none of the dark edge that made the series such a cult success. This alongside the carefully honed dialogue and characters with whom you share three years of history Veronica Mars is every bit the film that the fans deserve. I laughed, I gasped, I got the warm fuzzies, and I noted a dozen times when the film would subtly nod to its parent series and let the fans know that they were in safe hands and that nothing had been forgotten.

I don’t know what the film’s appeal will be to those new to Veronica and the town of Neptune. This film is such a labour of love and was funded by, and made for, those who obsessed over the original three series. There is an introduction to catch you up on the basic back story but with 64 episodes condensed to two minutes there’s no way you can care about the characters to the same degree. Perhaps take this as motivation to finally watch the TV series your friends have been harassing you about so you’re all set to properly enjoy the film. I’d love to hear how well the film plays to a non-fan; hopefully it will work on its own and drive viewers back to the series.

As a fan of the series and Kickstarter backer I am biased as anything but I really enjoyed the film and look forward to seeing it again this Friday on the big screen. It could have all gone horribly wrong but thankfully instead we have a solid film that will please rather than horrify the fans and hopefully act as a calling card for a series that needs a little more love.

Veronica Mars is on very limited release from 14th March 2014. Full list of cinemas below:

Empire Cinemas
Leicester Square (London)
Birmingham
Newcastle

Showcase Cinemas
Dartford (London)
Bristol
Cardiff
Nottingham
Leicester
Manchester
Glasgow

Movies@Dundrum
Dublin

Veronica Mars – The First 2 Minutes

Veronica Mars

Let’s take a quick break from the Oscars to talk about one of our favourite subjects at the moment; Veronica Mars. The film is out in a handful of UK cinemas, and available on Video on Demand, next Friday and in the meantime I am contractually obligated to post everything I possibly can:

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As such let me present to you the first two minutes of the film, two minutes which nicely sum up the entire three years of the TV series. A clip to catch up your friends perhaps?

Veronica Mars – UK Trailer

Veronica Mars

Finally! We have been sent the UK trailer for the Veronica Mars movie which gets a limited UK cinema release on 14th March 2014 and will be available for digital download on the same day.

For anyone unfamiliar with the Veronica Mars universe please read my previous ramblings, and that time I got statistical. For the die-hard fans I give you the trailer, enjoy:

Excuse me while I get inappropriately excited.

How to Succeed at Kickstarter:
A Statistically Unsound Guide

Funded

Yesterday one of the Kickstarter stories we were following came to a surprisingly abrupt end as Melissa Joan Hart closed the campaign for Darci’s Walk of Shame two weeks early and with a mere fraction of the target raised. Clearly Hart and chums were hoping to have the same success as Rob Thomas with his Veronica Mars project and Zach Braff with his ongoing Wish I Was Here endeavours but Hart could see she wasn’t going to pass the $2-million mark she needed and pulled the plug.

So why didn’t Darci experience the same success as her contemporaries? Is it as simple as the fact that Sabrina Goes to Rome was a long time ago, was awful and that Hart has a much smaller fan base than Braff and Veronica Mars? Is there a convoluted and inaccurate mathematical analysis I can perform? I bloody well hope so.

To begin my numbers-based investigation I gathered together some statistics for each project. I looked at their Kickstarter success, or lack thereof and the three lead actors Twitter accounts to get an idea of fan base size. I also looked at the three existing titles which the respective Kickstarter projects relate to (Veronica Mars, Garden State, and Sabrina Goes to Rome) and noted their IMDb user rating and the number of years since their release. Here’s what I gathered:

Kickstarter Stats

The first thing to note is that Mars and Braff are pretty similar when it comes to their average pledges and Twitter followers yet differ greatly in the amount of money they have raised. Melissa Joan Hart has much less money and followers but gets far more money per pledge. No proper trend here so I will be ignoring the number of Twitter followers a lead actor has.

At a quick glance however it does seem that a higher IMDb rating for the previous release and a more recent release make for a larger amount of money raised. The bubble chart below makes this clear:

Kickstarter Chart 1

The size of the bubbles is the amount of money raised on Kickstarter and the largest is for the highest rated film/show which was released the most recently. From here I continued on my pointless journey and created a new metric of IMDb score divided by the number of years since release (a sort of combined recency and quality score) and plotted it against the amount raised:

Kickstarter Chart 2

And there we have it! A direct relationship between how much you can raise on Kickstarter for your film based upon the recency and quality of your previous work.

Kickstarter Formula

Amazing! Inaccurate! Time-wasting! Superb!

An endlessly useful formula I think you’ll agree. What this means is that we can calculate the ideal value of IMDb Rating/Years Since Release that will get you to the $2-million mark. That value is 0.705 and is also endlessly useful because we can use it to make the table below:

Years to Succeed

This tells us how many years you can wait until you try to make a follow-up film on Kickstarter based on your TV show or film’s rating on IMDb. For example Buffy the Vampire Slayer has an IMDb rating of 8 and has been off-air for 10 years so still has another 1.35 years until it will no longer raise sufficient funds on Kickstarter. On the other hand Freaks and Geeks has an IMDb rating of 8.9 but has been gone for 13 years now so is just too late.

So if you own the rights to an existing franchise and fancy raising money on Kickstarter use my handy formula to see how much you will be able to raise. You are welcome.

DISCLAIMER: This is in no way accurate, does not take enough projects into account, and ignores far too many other factors to be of any use.