Review: Comic-Con: Episode IV – A Fan’s Hope

Directed by: Morgan Spurlock
Written by: Jeremy Chilnick, Morgan Spurlock, Joss Whedon
Appearances by: Seth Rogen, Seth Green, Kevin Smith, Stan Lee, Eli Roth, Paul Dini, Holly Conrad, and more 

Synopsis: A behind-the-scenes look at the fans who gather by the thousands each year in San Diego, California to attend Comic-Con, the world’s largest comic book convention.

As a director, Morgan Spurlock has had a wide range of subject matter for documentaries from American obesity to the global hunt for Bin Laden to the influence of advertising. In his latest documentary feature “Comic-Con: Episode IV – A Fan’s Hope,” Mr. Spurlock documents geek culture at the annual convention following typical fans with high aspirations and dreams to be discovered or just have a good time at the event.

“Comic Con” provides us with a colorful cast of characters we follow during the process of attending the 2010 event. The film provides brief history of how the convention has transformed from humble beginnings of comic book nerds to the Sundance of geekdom. We have a few people including the owner of Mile High Comics of Denver looking to sell a rare Marvel comic of Red Raven for half a million dollars. He needs to pay numerous bills as his business is on the line. A group of friends travel to the convention in order to participate in the Masquerade costume competition. What they pull off is very impressive. One guy who met his girlfriend the previous year’s convention wants to get engaged in front of a Kevin Smith panel, “Lord of the Rings” style ring and all…as over five thousand people watch! The unexpected characters were two individuals who brought their portfolio to be reviewed by publishers.

Spurlock shows all these characters equally as he shies away from exploiting weird people or manipulating situations. Each of these people are portrayed as a character in a comic with a character name like “The Dreamer,” “The Designer,” “The Geek,” etc. Spliced between all the footage are entertaining interviews from a wide variety of actors, directors, and comic illustrators (to various to mention) discussing the specific event and comic culture. The experience of “Comic-Con” is an entertaining one as we become overwhelmed with the nerds, the costumes, and the geek love.

All the featured people make for somewhat fascinating subject matter. Occasionally a moment passes without something interesting happening. My favorite scene was when the one guy offers a marriage proposal in front of the convention audience. Kevin Smith plays with it very well. I found this very memorable moment equally sincere and awkward. He places a healthy balance of not overwhelming the film or mocking the bizarre subject matters at hand. In fact, he doesn’t narrate the film, but rather the interviews do all the talking. We observe and draw our own conclusions, as this film is surprisingly low on the Spurlock cynicism we come to expect from the filmmaker. One characteristic, which held the film from achieving greatness, was the shallowness of it all. We didn’t get a good in-depth perspective of the event, just things that scratch the surface. Was Spurlock holding back or is this footage he ended up with? Was the point of the documentary not to ask deep questions and just capture the mood at ComicCon? I’m not so sure.

Executive Produced by the comic Godfather Stan Lee and movie ‘God-blogger’ Harry Knowles of, the documentary is part geek love letter, part nerd exploration. You don’t need to be a comic book nerd to like “Comic-Con,” just someone who has an unflinching passion for a hobby one uses to escape reality. Playing in theaters and on VOD.

Rating 6.5 out of 10

an Amusing Exploration of Geek Culture

About Kenny Miles

Whether something is overlooked by Hollywood or whatever business trend has captured the Entertainment Industry’s attention, Kenny Miles loves to talk about movies (especially the cultural impact of a film). He covers various aspects of movies including specialty genre films, limited release, independent, foreign language, documentary features, and THE much infamous "awards season." Also, he likes to offer his opinion on the business of film, marketing strategy, and branding.He currently resides in Denver, Colorado and is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society critics group. You can follow him on Twitter @kmiles723.

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