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'Veronica Mars' stays true to its fans

MoviesEntertainmentTelevision IndustryUnrest, Conflicts and WarVeronica Mars (movie)The Double (movie)Submarine (movie)

Veronica Mars: The Movie

Warner Bros., $28.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

Even by the standards of a small TV network like UPN (and later the CW), the teen detective series "Veronica Mars" didn't have a big audience and was lucky to survive for three seasons. But those viewers were fiercely loyal, spreading the word about how creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell had forged a unique hybrid of case-of-the-week private eye adventures and sharp social commentary, exploring the caste system in a coastal California community. Those same fans helped revive "Veronica Mars" as a movie (via a well-publicized Kickstarter campaign), and while the film is too condensed to capture all that made the show special, it's fundamentally true to its source, peppering in witty dialogue and keen observations about wealth and fame as Veronica returns home to help an old boyfriend accused of murder. The DVD and Blu-ray add deleted scenes and suitably fan-friendly behind-the-scenes featurettes.

The Double

Available on VOD beginning May 9

Writer-director Richard Ayoade follows up his charming indie romantic comedy "Submarine" with a more ambitious project: a surreal adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel "The Double," starring Jesse Eisenberg as a meek cubicle-dweller named Simon James who can't bring himself to ask out a pretty co-worker (played by Mia Wasikowska) until one day his doppelgänger James Simon arrives at the office and begins doing everything that Simon James can't. While "Submarine" was plenty stylish — borrowing liberally from the Wes Anderson playbook — "The Double" amps up the art direction, recalling Terry Gilliam in the way that it makes corporate life look dystopian. It's a sharp, blackly comic film, with a great performance by Eisenberg in a dual role.

Devil's Knot

Available on VOD beginning May 9

The "West Memphis 3" case — which saw a trio of teenage heavy metal fans convicted of sexually assaulting, murdering and ritually mutilating younger children — has been well covered in the "Paradise Lost" documentaries and "West of Memphis," which already makes the dramatization "Devil's Knot" seem superfluous. Director Atom Egoyan and screenwriters Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson (adapting Mara Leveritt's book of the same name) don't do much to dispel that preconception. Though Reese Witherspoon is outstanding as one of the mothers of the victims, the movie lacks a consistent point of view or a sense of drama and instead tries to recap a complicated case via actors standing around spouting dialogue. It's not a bad film, but it never feels like anything other than a waste of time for all involved.

Generation War

Music Box, $27.98; Blu-ray, $34.95

Director Philipp Kadelbach and screenwriter Stefan Kolditz's three-part, 41/2-hour German TV miniseries "Our Mothers, Our Fathers" — titled "Generation War" here in the States — follows five young German friends from 1941 to '45, showing how World War II pulled ordinary people into a life of impossible choices. Set across Eastern Europe, "Generation War" uses the evolving circumstances of two soldier brothers, one nurse, one entertainer and one fugitive Jew to cover a lot of narrative and thematic ground; and while it plays too much like a conventional war movie too often, the length and scope make "Generation War" cumulatively powerful. Kadelbach and Kolditz have created something simplistic but absorbing. The DVD and Blu-ray add a featurette.

And…

The Art of the Steal

Starz/Anchor Bay, $16.98; Blu-ray, $29.99

7 Boxes

Breaking Glass, $21.99

Son of Batman

Warner Bros., $24.98; Blu-ray, $24.98

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MoviesEntertainmentTelevision IndustryUnrest, Conflicts and WarVeronica Mars (movie)The Double (movie)Submarine (movie)
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