Veronica Mars' mystery-of-the-week structure is inherently well-suited to the feature film treatment, and Thomas effectively replicates it wholesale. Meanwhile, cinematographer Ben Kutchins ditches the more stylistically gauche elements of the series - the colour filter has mercifully disappeared - and shoots in scope, with a sleek, moody aesthetic. The comic book quaintness remains firmly intact, with only cursory concessions given to the advancing age of the characters. There is an abundance of spiky wit pulsating through the familiar soap opera histrionics; Thomas and his skilled cast make it coalesce with just the right degree of flippancy. While the season often skirted along the edges of postmodernism, the film lets loose with a couple of smart meta flourishes.
For all its retro teen capering, Veronica Mars always had its finger on the pulse of popular culture, and the film is at its best when it engages with the zeitgeist on its own terms. Thomas also manages to squeeze in a bitchy nod to Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer - a show to which Veronica Mars was often compared, even though it arguably never quite scaled the same boundary-pushing heights. Whilst Neptune remains a purgatorial suburban nightmare populated by the soulless teenagers of Steely Dan's Showbiz Kids, it remains a peculiar nucleus for Veronica. The multi-layered final act is an intelligent exercise on this very notion - the gravitational pull of the familiar is irresistible. Thomas and Bell recognise that isn't necessarily a bad thing.