25/9/2014

My Review: Life of Crime (5/10)

"She looks like a million bucks."

If you were to run into Life of Crime prior to having seen Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown then you probably wouldn't feel in the mood to see it considering Daniel Schechter's film is a bit of a letdown. Despite being a prequel to Jackie Brown, which was also based on Elmore Leonard's novel, this film doesn't have that same punch to it. This proves just how difficult it is to do what Tarantino does so well. Leonard always writes rich characters who at times seem quirky. He mixes black humor with action pretty well, but in Life of Crime that spark is missing. The film relies on a talented cast who make the movie a bit more entertaining, but the story simply fails to engage and at times everything seems so light and pointless. There is something phony about these characters and the plot which constantly reminds the audience that there isn't anything true or authentic about this world. For a film based on a Leonard novel, the characters don't seem to have much going for them either. These aren't the characters we fell in love with in films like Jackie Brown, Out of Sight, and Get Shorty which were all created by Leonard. If I had to compare it to another adaptation from a Leonard novel I would say this is much more similar to Armitage's The Big Bounce starring Owen Wilson and Morgan Freeman. It is that disappointing no matter how much you  like the cast here. Life of Crime doesn't have anything remarkable to say really, it simply is content with existing and perhaps trying to hook Jackie Brown fans along the way. The comedy doesn't work really well, while the vibe and tone of the film is way too silly to take the action seriously. Perhaps I was just familiar with the characters this time around and found the entire premise a bit too ridiculous, but the film simply didn't engage me as much as other Leonard adaptations have in the past. 

Life of Crime's talented cast doesn't save this mediocre film, although they provide some enjoyment. The one who stands out is John Hawkes who plays Louis (Robert De Niro's character in Jackie Brown). It is remarkable how he can play such a scary and creepy role in one film and then all of a sudden you see how likable and sweet he can be in another. This time around, Hawkes is extremely likable and charming despite being a kidnapper. His partner in crime is Ordell (played by Mos Def in this film and Samuel L. Jackson in Jackie Brown). Def is also charming in this film and the two play off one another extremely well. As thieves they are completely incompetent, but we still want them to succeed. The weak link in this film was Jennifer Aniston who plays Mickey, the wife who is kidnapped. She simply didn't sell the character. Tim Robbins plays her husband, Frank, who is having an affair with Isla Fisher's Melanie. So you can see how the kidnappers plans are ruined when they find out that the husband has no interest in paying the ransom. That is kind of the whole joke of the film. Will Forte and Mark Boone Junior give strong supporting roles as well and there were actually a few moments involving the two that stood out for me comedic wise. The film did open pretty strongly but it didn't seem to go anywhere and several elements were completely left out. For example, Mickey and Frank's son who was introduced in the opening scenes is completely left out of the picture during the ransom. It's as if director Schechter simply didn't know where to take the story once all the characters were introduced. I was a huge fan of Jackie Brown so I was quite disappointed with this prequel. 

17/9/2014

My Review: Night Moves (4/10)

"It'll all go fast in the end. Once the marine biodiversity goes, everything goes with it."

I was unfamiliar with Kelly Reichardt until Night Moves, but I had heard several great things from her direction in Meek's Cutoff and Wendy and Lucy. Night Moves has also received many praises from critics so I really don't know how I will feel about her other films because this one was a disappointment for me. Perhaps I don't get her style of filmmaking but the entire film felt tedious and there wasn't any tension. For a movie that is centered on a character driven plot I really didn't feel like I learned much about these three radical environmentalists. What motivates them to take these extreme measures? All we know is that they are environmentalists, but I didn't feel like they had any distinct trait. The pacing of this film was really slow and at times I felt like abandoning it, but I continued to watch in hopes that the plot got better. After all, Hollywood Report compared it to the the suspenseful Hitchcock films of the 50's. The final third act of the film was the worst considering some of the decisions made felt completely out of character. Night Moves lacked soul and purpose, I really never managed to get into it despite how much I liked the cast. It was a numbing experience for me and no matter how gorgeous the Oregon landscape was, I simply never bought into the story. Reichardt loves to use steady shots and let the action unfold in front of us, but they were as tedious as the the slow pacing of the film. Nature might be captured beautifully in Night Moves, but the characters' motivations were really hard to believe at times. I tend to enjoy low key films, but for a character driven one I really didn't see much development going on. Yes, Eisenberg's character is alienated, Fanning's is strong willed, and Sarsgaard's is the most adventurous, but other than that we don't get much from their restrained performances. I might be on the minority here so I will give Reichardt another chance and check out one of her previous films to see if I enjoy it better than Night Moves. 

I wouldn't have a problem with a slow burner like Night Moves if the final result was a rewarding experience, but the third act is even less engaging than the previous ones. I can't simply enjoy a film because it's restrained and it's nice to look at. Sure some of the steady long shots looked cool, but after a while it too becomes tedious as the characters in this film. Eisenberg received a lot of praise for his performance here, although I really never bought into his character's motivations. The strongest performance for me came from Peter Sarsgaard who was much more believable and understandable. Dakota Fanning had some interesting scenes as well, but I still had a hard time getting engaged with their characters. Comparisons with The East were almost inevitable for me considering the theme of this film, but somehow I didn't enjoy this as much as Batmanglij's film. That film despite having several flaws managed to maintain the tension throughout most of its running time unlike what I felt with Night Moves which simply failed to deliver suspense or any real drama. 


My Review: The Rover (6/10)

"The only thing that means anything right now is that I'm here and he's not."

David Michod followed up his critically acclaimed Australian film, Animal Kingdom, with this post-Apocalyptic western starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. It is a very slow paced film with very little dialogue and several monotonous scenes involving close ups of characters staring into the desertlike wasteland. As I was watching The Rover, I couldn't help but recall the stunning cinematography and the atmosphere of The Road. This film has many similarities with it considering it also deals with a post apocalyptic world where humanity seems lost. The few social encounters that take place between the characters show us how indifferent these people are towards each other in this bleak and harsh world portrayed by Michod. There is no mention as to what happened other than that there was a collapse ten years ago. That collapse hasn't affected the landscape as much as it has affected people's inner lives. There seems to be a lack of purpose in every character's life and there is no room for laughter or hope. It's not the world that has gotten darker, but the people who are simply trying to survive in it. We've seen this sort of bleak world portrayed in many other films before, and the monotony can turn many audiences off. The young girls who are drawn to this film for Robert Pattinson will be disappointed considering the dirt filled desert has taken its toll on him and the rest of the characters. No one looks good in The Rover, there is no reason to, they are all simply trying to survive and move on in this desolate land. The tone and mood of the film is very dark and harsh which will also turn many people off. This isn't a film for everyone, but the drama does manage to keep you in suspense.

Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson are the sole reason why I was able to stick with this depressive and lonely world painted by Michod (with the assistance of Joel Edgerton who wrote the story in which the film is based on). Pearce gives a solid performance as this tough loner who will stop at nothing to find the men who have stolen his car, even if it means getting killed in the process. Along the way he encounters Rey (Robert Pattinson), who is the brother of one of the criminals who have stolen his car. Apparently Rey was left for dead after a shootout that took place right before the criminals decided to escape in the wrong vehicle. The two continue the search together. Once Pearce and Pattinson are on screen together the film picks up and breaks the monotony from the opening minutes. Pattinson is the stand out here playing this dimwitted character who doesn't seem to have a chance of surviving in this world on his own. He sells his southern accent very well and even delivers some much needed comedic relief once in a while. He is almost unrecognizable in this film and I believe it is probably his best performance to date. The violence in this film is also shocking at times as it hits you pretty hard and doesn't romanticize it at all as some Hollywood films tend to do. The gunshots are loud and quick and probably say much more about The Rover than any of the characters do. I wasn't a fan of the score of this film which was a bit repetitive and wasn't necessary in my opinion considering the tone was rather monotonous on its own. Despite its slow pacing, The Rover managed to sustain the tension up to the very end.


My Review: Gattaca (7/10)

“I got the better end of the deal. I only lent you my body. You lent me your dream.”

In Andrew Niccol’s directorial debut we are invited to imagine a world where humans are categorized according to their genetic make-up. In this world, genetic engineering is not only a possibility, but a very common thing. Society now classifies people according to their DNA, and social classes are determined by it. It is not a future too hard to envision considering over history we have categorized people according to the color of their skin, their race, or their gender. Niccol creates an interesting sci-fi premise by using this sort of allegory of our society and combining it with some action and romance. I have yet to see Niccol’s Lord of War, but from what I’ve seen his debut film has been his best. He had an interesting cast to work with as well. Ethan Hawke plays the lead role, Vincent Freeman, who was born with inferior genes and therefore not expected to live long. He must settle for unimportant jobs, and no matter how hard he tries, he is unable to achieve his dream of traveling to space. Those jobs are only available for humans with superior DNA. Jude Law plays a supporting role as Jerome Murrow, a man born with perfect genes, but after suffering an accident he is left paraplegic. Vincent assumes Jerome’s identity and by deceiving DNA testings he is able to follow his dream and is assigned on a space mission. It’s an engaging premise despite some flaws, but it is much more intelligent than some recent sci-fi Niccol films.

Ethan Hawke gives a solid performance, but he doesn’t really stand out here like he has in some of his other films. The best thing about Gattaca is its sci-fi futuristic premise which manages to thrill and keep the audience in suspense. Jude Law doesn’t add much to the story, but he is always an interesting presence. Uma Thurman plays Hawke’s love interest and gives the plot a romantic side. Her chemistry with Hawke is what makes the film emotionally engaging, because without her Vincent isn’t really engaging on his own. The film succeeds thanks to its strong narrative (written by Niccol himself) and the way it manages to adapt current prejudices in society to a future we don’t want to look forward to. It gets its point across of cautioning us and delivering meaning in a similar way that classic fairy tales did when our mothers read us the stories when we were kids. It has become a classic for some over the years. It’s not among my favorite films, but it was an enjoyable ride and i’m glad I finally got around to watching it.


8/9/2014

My Review: Lucy (5/10)

"We've codified our existence to bring it down to human size, to make it comprehensible, we've created a scale so we can forget its unfathomable scale."

I've always been a fan of Luc Besson's work so I was expecting great things from Lucy considering I had read several positive reviews, but personally I was disappointed. And I'm not trashing this film simply because the assumption that humans only use 10% of their brain is erroneous; that wasn't an issue I had here. I just found it hard to engage with the character of Lucy, the philosophical themes explored here were silly, and the entire premise simply bored me. There were some similarities between this film and Johnny Depp's Transcendence where despite some solid visual styles the philosophical themes hurt the overall narrative. Scarlett Johansson delivers another solid performance, but her character really didn't work for me as well as former Besson leading ladies such as Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element and Natalie Portman in Leon. Perhaps it was all the philosophical and scientific mumbling that ended up hurting the narrative story for me. However I do have to give Besson credit for trying something different and taking risks because the film goes to unexpected places at times. I do feel that comparisons with 2001 are unfair. Some of the CGI didn't really work for me either, especially the one with the neanderthal during the opening scene. Besson also experimented with the use of imagery that seemed to be taken from a National Geographic channel which overlapped with the narrative serving as an analogy, but those scenes felt forced and they also took me out of the film. This sci-fi film might have taken several steps to stand out from other formulaic movies by not following the standard structure of a genre film, but the result didn't really pay off. I felt as if Lucy was trying to be this sort of profound philosophical film, but it turned out to be fairly silly and incomprehensible. Perhaps it may be that I use less than 10% of my brain and therefor just didn't get it, but for my limited brain capacity Lucy wasn't worth my time or money. 

Scarlett Johansson has taken several risks in the past year delivering some very solid roles in films like Her, Under the Skin, and now Lucy. The risks seem to have payed off considering she is catching the attention of talented directors and I'm glad she isn't going for the easy roles in rom-coms or standard action flicks. Despite enjoying her performance, this film lost me halfway through it. I enjoyed the supporting cast as well. It was great to see Choi Min-sik (better known for his role in Oldboy) play the villain here although I wish he would have been given more screen time. Perhaps my favorite performance was that of Amr Waked who played the officer helping Lucy (or should I say simply riding along with her?). Besson switched the genre roles here as usually it is the other way around, where the male character is the one doing all the work and the female only riding along. Morgan Freeman might just be the weakest link in this film as he is the one responsible for all the scientific and philosophical blabbing going on (my least favorite thing about Lucy). For a film that tries to take itself seriously with profound themes about wasted human potential, there are way too many flaws involved. I understand that most of these flaws were needed as an excuse to introduce some of the action scenes which this film would have suffered without. There are some fun scenes like a car chase across Paris, but there isn't much more to this whacky film. For all the scientific rambling there is very little substance to Lucy despite its ambitions.


My Review: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (8/10)

"I decided to stop pitying myself. Other than my eye, two things aren't paralyzed, my imagination and my memory."

Julian Schnabel's French film, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, is a powerful and emotional film about a man suffering from locked-in syndrome due to a stroke. Despite having his mental faculties intact, he is almost completely paralyzed and unable to communicate with the outside world. The once successful magazine editor is now living as a prisoner of his own body. The only muscle he is capable of moving is his left eye and with the help of a therapist he manages to communicate by blinking his eye. Mathieu Amalric gives a powerful performance as Jean-Dominique Bauby, and most of the film takes place from his point of view. Schnabel brilliantly and effectively uses camera angles to give the audience a glimpse of what this person's claustrophobic world was like. From the very opening scene we are hooked and drawn to Jean-Do's new world as he's trapped in his body. It is a very emotional film based on the autobiography written by Bauby himself who managed to write the book with the help of his therapist through the use of a communication system they developed. The sole fact that this man was able to write a book in the condition he was in, is reason enough for me to want to read his book or see a movie based on his life. It takes a lot of courage to open up the way Jean-Do did, and I think it is one of the main reasons why this film worked so well for audiences across the globe. It says a lot about how powerless we are against these illnesses, but at the same time we can also share Jean-Do's approach of learning to deal with his disability and facing the obstacles with optimism. He realized that despite being physically disabled he still had his mental faculties and was able to break those boundaries with the power of his imagination. I am also certain that this element is what caught director Schnabel's attention and what pushed him to make this film. He tells the story with such class that despite the emotional moments you never feel he was trying to be manipulative or force the audience into feeling a certain way. The performances in this film are also outstanding, making this an even more engaging movie. I also loved the beautiful imagery that Schnabel used, turning the film into a poem at times. 

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was a personal film for me considering that my father is going through a slightly similar experience as the character in this film. He suffered a stroke four years ago and hasn't been able to speak since. The right side of his body was paralyzed, but with help from therapy he has been able to walk again. Despite not being able to speak he understands everything and communicates with us through signs and facial expressions. The brave way in which he has managed to face his illness by always being in good spirits and not letting the disease get the best of him is a constant reminder for me of how much our attitude influences the way we approach life. He could be feeling sorry for himself, or he can stay positive and continue to improve with therapy in a similar way that Jean-Do did with his locked in syndrome. Having your mental capabilities intact is a major force considering you can escape those limitations in your mind and let your imagination fly. In a way, it was a turning point for Jean-Do when he realized this and Schnabel managed to capture those moments really well on camera. The scenes he shares with his family members are among my favorite in the film. I loved the scene in which he's in the beach with his ex-wife and kids. It is such an emotional scene but at the same time it felt authentic and real. The scenes with his father, played by Max von Sydow, are also extremely powerful and effective. You rarely see a biopic like this one, and Schnabel deserves all the credit for making an original and moving picture. 


5/9/2014

My Review: To Catch a Thief (8/10)


"Do you want a leg or a breast?"

Squeezed in the middle of Hitchcock's filmography, To Catch a Thief, is many times forgotten since it came out the year after Rear Window. Hitchcock also had greater success with his later films, Pyscho, The Birds, North by Northwest, and Vertigo so this film is easily discarded when we compare it to his other works. It is a shame because To Catch a Thief has many great things going for it which we now take for granted. For instance the love story mixed right in the middle of the mystery is captivating. Perhaps for modern audiences the mystery involving this copycat thief, known as the cat, may be way to easy to solve, but the heart of the story lies in the fantastic chemistry between Cary Grant's John Robie and Grace Kelly's Frances Stevens. The sparks fly between these two characters and their intense chemistry on screen is rarely equaled in modern films. This was my first Cary Grant film and only the second time I'v seen Grace Kelly on screen so perhaps that's why I enjoyed it so much. I was pleasantly surprised with this film and despite it not being at the same level of some of Hitchcock's other masterpieces it is a really enjoyable movie. The cinematography here is gorgeous and perhaps one of the best coming from Hitchcock. Deciding to film this on location in the French riviera was the best idea Hitchcock had and it really payed off. His cameo at the beginning of the movie just might be my favorite of his as well. There is also a spectacular car chase scene that is the highlight of the film. My only complaint lies in the fact that the resolution wasn't as strong as the opening and mid section of this film, but the pacing was well established and I enjoyed it.  Cary Grant and Grace Kelly were magnificent on screen together and I look forward to seeing more of their classic work in the future. 

The gorgeous scenery and the romance went perfect together in this charming film from Hitchcock. Grant and Kelly shared an incredible chemistry together and their witty remarks also added some comedy to the mix. The film might not be as artistic as some of his greater work, but this light weight romantic thriller shouldn't be disregarded when we consider Hitchcock's films because it showed his versatility as a director and his capability of directing less serious films and making them better than the actual material really was. It's an enjoyable film and it accomplishes its purpose of entertaining the audience as it takes us through the gorgeous riviera of France and introduces us to these beautiful beaches and mansions. Some of Hitchcock's better known films could have benefited from the two strong leads in To Catch a Thief because for a light film they really got the job done. It may be a forgettable film coming from Hitchcock but it is far more entertaining than most of the light movies we are exposed to in the theaters today. Despite not having heard great things about this film, I'm glad I had the pleasure to watch this and see the sparks fly between Grant and Kelly.


1/9/2014

My Review: If I Stay (6/10)

"Isn't it amazing how life is one thing and then, in an instant it becomes something else."

If I stay is the latest film adapted from a YA novel, and even though this movie is in no way aimed towards an adult audience, it does have some moments that aren't as superficial as one would expect coming from this genre. Despite of all the cliches and the melodramatic scenes the story works thanks to Chloe Grace Moretz who is able to hold the film together and get us through all the corny moments. Her chemistry with Jamie Blackley on screen works, although in my opinion their moments together weren't actually the best scenes. When the film focused on the relationship with her parents was when I actually was drawn more to the story, and the few scenes she had with her grandfather, played by Stacy Keach, where the highlight of the film. There is actually a very emotional scene near the end where Keach gives a powerful speech which if were in a better film, critics would be talking about award consideration for his small performance here. Of course that won't be the case because we are talking about a YA novel adaptation filled with flaws. Chloe Grace Moretz gives an inspired performance as well and she is actually what holds this film together. She has four more films coming out this year so hopefully we will get plenty of more opportunities to see her shine in better films. She is an actress who has been in my radar since her role in Kick-Ass and I absolutely love her. The romantic part of the film which is the main attraction for young teenage girls is probably the weakest thing about If I stay considering it's full of cliches. The fact that both these characters are in to music helps out the film because the soundtrack stands out, but at times the romance feels like it's part of a music video clip with beautiful scenery and good looking people. If I Stay fails to break out from the genre conventions and the premise might be a bit far stretched to make much logical sense. It is also very manipulative and at times the scenes are basically introduced to force the audience to let out a couple tears. Having been released only a few months after The Fault in Our Stars also hurts this film because it doesn't handle the emotional scenes as well as that film did. Moretz and Keach are basically the only reason why I'm giving this film 3 stars. 

If I Stay was adapted from Gayle Forman's novel of the same name by Shauna Cross (known for Whip It and What to Expect When You're Expecting). Moretz is Mia, a talented cello player who catches the attention of Adam (Jamie Blackley), the rock star of her High School who is actually getting an important break with his band. Adam falls in love with Mia, the shy and quiet girl from school and they quickly begin a relationship. The love story is told through flashbacks as Mia is going through an out of body experience after she suffered a fatal car accident with her family. Her parents and younger brother are all killed in the accident and she is left in a coma. She must decide wether she continues to fight and stay or if she should let go now that her family is gone. How she is given the power to decide is never really mentioned in the film and doesn't make much sense, but we just have to accept it. The parents are perfect which makes the audience feel Mia's pain and loss. There isn't one scene where her parents look like real people because they are constantly portrayed as these cool and perfect parents. It is perhaps a flaw in this film, but I actually enjoyed the scenes they shared with Moretz. It is all pretty much a fantasy aiming to make the audience cry and feel sorry for Mia, but Moretz's grounded and natural performance elevates this otherwise poor film.


30/8/2014

My Review: The Invisible Woman (6/10)

"Every human creature is a profound secret and mystery to every other."

In this follow up to his directorial debut, Coriolanus, Ralph Fiennes directs himself as Charles Dickens focusing on a specific period of his life rather than on a full blown biography. I am a huge fan of Dickens' work and have read many of his novels, but this film focuses on his later years after he had become a successful and respected writer. He was a very popular figure during the Victorian Age and we get glimpses of this here in The Invisible Woman as he struggles to hide his affection for a teenage stage actress he encounters named Nelly Ternan (played by Felicity Jones). Dickens is married, but he finds no fulfillment in his wife who doesn't understand his work. But since he's such a public figure, he must keep his affair a secret which is something Nelly finds hard to accept. This period piece stands out visually thanks to the beautiful costume design and setting which transports us to the Victorian Age. The Oscar nomination for achievement in costume design was well deserved although it lost out to The Great Gatsby. The performances from Felicity Jones and Ralph Fiennes were superb and the chemistry between them was strong, but the major issue with this film has to do with its slow pacing. The film is a little less than two hours long, but it feels like much more. However it's hard to resist this film due to the charm that Fiennes' Dickens evokes on the viewer. We have read his novels where he bears his soul about his troubled and difficult past (David Copperfield is my favorite work of his and it is his most autobiographical one), but I really never pictured him as this successful writer who enjoyed the spotlight and had such charisma. Its that very essence of Dickens that got me through the movie. 

The Invisible Woman was adapted by Abi Morgan from Claire Tomalin's book and it focuses on Dickens' affair from Nelly's point of view as she dealt with the pain of their secret relationship despite having a privileged life. Everything about this period piece looks beautiful, but still it feels like its missing something and I quite can't figure it out yet. I can't fully grasp the mystery as to why Nelly accepted to live this life while internally she despised herself for it. The film doesn't bear her soul, but only shows signs of this externally through her strong performance. She is troubled and despite her admiration for Dickens' work we don't see that same passion in her eyes that he shares for her. The supporting performances from Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Hollander, and Joanna Scanlan do lift the movie. Scanlan plays an important role as Dickens' wife as she comes to grasp the reality of her husband's affair. It's the poor way she's treated by Dickens that turns her off. However, Dickens is so charming that it's hard not to like him. Scott Thomas plays Nelly's mother and she is the one that convinces her to accept the life Dickens offers her. The film explores this complex relationship and it succeeds in most part thanks to the strong performances but it still fails to engage us more in their world. Just like Nelly's repressed emotions, the film at times feels repressed and doesn't quite manage to open up for the audience. 


29/8/2014

My Review: Veronica Mars (6/10)

"Dumb question, but I have to ask : Did you know you were being filmed?"

Veronica Mars is a character driven action thriller with a solid fan base due to the short lived TV series success. I never watched the critically acclaimed series which aired for three seasons from 2004 to 2007, but the film is easy to follow and engaging nonetheless. Kristen Bell is given a well written character and delivers a strong performance in the lead role. She has some witty lines and I'm sure I missed out on a lot of clever gags aimed towards fans of the series, but I still was entertained by this film. I'm sure fans of the series will have a much better time with it, but I still give it a mild recommendation to audiences like me who came into it without knowing anything about the series. One of the interesting things about this film is that it was produced by the actual fans of the series who raised over 5 million dollars in the Kickstarter campaign, so it has a solid and faithful fan base. Of course the film feels like a TV movie at times because it is based on the series, but it still is very well written and directed by Rob Thomas. 

The crime mystery might not be completely original, and the love triangle may not work for some, but the film's success relies on Kristen Bell's engaging performance. Her character is strong willed and independent, something we don't see in many action films where the females usually play the victims who are in need of a savior. Veronica Mars switched the genre roles and this time it's the female who comes to the rescue of a man. The film may not be ground breaking, but fans of the series get their moneys worth after pulling off an unprecedented fundraiser to get the movie produced. That is where the success of Veronica Mars lies, it is geared towards the fans who have stuck with them during the three years the series aired and the six years after it left the air. The rest of us only get a small glimpse in this movie of who Veronica Mars is, and not much more than that. 

In the end Veronica Mars is kind of a High School reunion where you get to meet friends from your past and discover what they have been up to. If High School was a big deal for you so will the reunion, but if it wasn't something you really cared much about then you might find the experience sort of pointless. Fans of the series will have a blast revisiting these characters and discovering how they changed, newcomers will enjoy the mystery but will probably not be too blown away by it. As a newcomer I still had a decent time despite not understanding all the references and enjoyed the film. The love triangle didn't work too well for me because I honestly didn't find the appeal Logan (played by Jason Dohring) had on Veronica, but that is probably something that was built on the show. It doesn't work well in the film however. Chris Lowell seemed like a much better candidate for Kristen Bells' Veronica. There were also some funny cameos included in this film which helped lighten up the mood at times.