Thursday, May 22, 2014
Veronica Mars and 60 minutes of vigorous walking
It's that time of year again -- the time when movies from the current release year start being available on DVD.
Even here in Australia, as it turns out.
I noticed earlier in the week that the Kickstarter-funded Veronica Mars movie made a very rapid DVD debut down under, as the title popped up on an email of new releases at the Hoyts kiosks. And Tuesday made for a good night to watch it, as my wife has come down with the cold I had over the weekend and was sure to be turning in early.
What Tuesday really was, though, was a test of whether I can walk to the nearest Hoyts kiosk and back during the half-hour I get for lunch.
There are two kiosks about equidistant from my office, neither of which is really close enough to walk to. By that, I mean that normal people -- those who aren't trying to figure out how to watch as many movies as possible -- would never do it.
But I'm not normal, and I judged that it was probably on the outside edges of being possible, so I vowed to give it a try.
Determining that the walk to the IGA in East Melbourne was probably slightly more favorable than the walk to the Woolworth's in the Queen Victoria Centre, I set off as soon as I clocked out for lunch. And I was truly on the clock, as the seconds of your 30-minute lunch immediately begin ticking away as soon as you take yourself off the phones.
Even hoofing it at a decent clip, it took me until 12:44 to get there, at which point I had about three minutes worth of business to transact inside the IGA -- first getting the movie from the kiosk, then determining something I would actually eat for lunch.
That same decent clip back, and I was a minute thirty late for my return. The countdown of my lunch break had gone into the red by the time I got myself back on the phones.
Of course, the task was only half done. I also had to return it on Wednesday.
Not liking the ultimate difficulty in getting to the IGA, I this time opted for the QV Centre, since you can return a movie to any kiosk. I won't bore you with the details -- we can just skip ahead to me returning that same minute and 30 seconds late. And this was without doing anything but returning the movie.
So was Veronica Mars worth all this up-tempo ambling that left a burn in my legs by the time I got back?
This movie is probably fine for people who didn't watch the show, and "fine" would be a generous, but not inaccurate, description of how I felt about it at various points. But the goal in a movie based on a TV show is to expand it to those audiences who didn't watch the show, and on this score it didn't do enough -- either to entice me as a non-viewer, or to seem larger scale and more cinematic than what I imagine was a typical episode of the show. James Franco cameo notwithstanding.
Of course, that's what makes the Kickstarter era interesting: a product funded by fans sort of does actually have to answer them, and a friend tells me that this is the explanation for a couple narrative choices that I found, shall we say, curious. For example, one seemingly innocuous, even nice, boyfriend character was unceremoniously kicked to the curb in favor of another guy, who wouldn't win any points with the uninitiated viewer.
Another Kickstarter reality is that movies that studios refuse to fund can get made, but they can't necessarily get made very well. Veronica Mars also seems to be a good example of this. You can see its lower budget in the less-than-optimal lighting, and other production details. It just all looks very ... TV.
You know, a fine movie, but not one worth going to great lengths to acquire during lunch.
The good news is, most days I won't actually have to hoof it to these kiosks. Now that my bike is out of the shop, having gotten new brake pads, I can return to riding to work, and can take my bike out at lunch to obtain the next DVD that catches my fancy.
Because it's May, and now they'll be coming at regular intervals for the rest of the year.