02nd Jul2013

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

by Phil Wheat

Features: Kevin Smith, Joss Whedon, Eli Roth, Seth Green, Paul Scheer, Seth Rogen, Harry Knowles, Stan Lee | Written by Jeremy Chilnick, Morgan Spurlock, Joss Whedon | Directed by Morgan Spurlock

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After dishing the dirt on fast food, terrorism, and advertising, documentarian Morgan Spurlock turns his camera to one of the biggest pop-culture events in the world, the San Diego Comic-Con. Filmed at the 2010 comic-con, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope is a behind-the-scenes look at the fans who gather by the thousands each year in San Diego to attend the world’s largest comic book convention – a convention which some say has drifted away from its original focus and is now more about the celebrities and studios than that titular “comics”.

From the get-go it’s obvious that Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope is unlike anything Spurlock has previously produced. Whereas his previous work took a sharp eye to its subject matter, this documentary looks to capture what comic-con is about for the fans – focusing on the highs and the lows – more of a love-letter to comic-con and the geeks (like me) who attend the event each and every year; and there’s much more of a “story” to this documentary than, say, Super Size Me.

If you’ve ever seen a Morgan Spurlock documentary you’ll know that he typically stands front and centre in his documentaries, however with Comic-Con Episode IV Spurlock takes a backseat, staying firmly behind the camera as he focuses on a cross-section of individuals as they descend upon SDCC – the comic retailer trying to stay afloat, the artists looking to make the break into comics, the cosplayers entering the masquerade, the toy collector eager for the exclusive figures, and the couple returning to comic-con after meeting there the previous year…

Thankfully the stories this documentary focuses on are, for the most part, compelling – especially the two artists who are both looking to comic-con for their big break – however some of the “characters” are, sadly, not that interesting. At least Spurlock tries to tell a number of different stories and show the different experiences to be had at comic-con. Yet whilst watching Comic-Con Episode IV I couldn’t help but think that only those who love geek culture and have either attended, or dream of attending SDCC, will be the ones to get something from this film. For those unconnected to the culture there’s nothing here that will be of appeal.

Packed with behind the scenes material; interviews with attendees, guests and other celebs enamoured with the San Diego Comic-Con; and plenty of shots from the con floor, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope is, for us geeks and nerds, a wonderful insight into what comic-con means to its fans and what it can mean to those who make the most of it.

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope is out now on DVD from Soda Pictures.

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