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Since 1970, Comic-Con in San Diego has grown from an small and obscure comic book event, to a major multi-media extravaganza attracting thousands. As various creative celebrities discuss what attracts them to this shindig and how it has grown and changed, we follow various people who have come from all over. Whether it be a veteran comic book vendor trying to make a profit in an event that is now marginalizing his medium, aspiring artists wanting to break into it, an ambitious costumer or a romantic geek with a special surprise for his girlfriend, they all experience a special time of year where the fantastic imagination is celebrated. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock brings his usual care and attention to a subject that, this time, sadly never gets it. From fast food, to terrorist-hunting, to product placement, and now to the largest convention in North America, Spurlock has proved diversity and that if you add the right balance of seriousness and wittiness to any subject, you'll be able to create a wonderful documentary. That's exactly what he does with Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope.
To my knowledge and research, this is the first documentary ever made focusing on the convention itself. Sure, when it happens in July we have updates on the web, and VLogs from a number of people, but nothing has ever been compiled into a full length movie. Spurlock chooses to follow along four people who are traveling to the convention from all walks of life, with different goals in mind.
They are "The Geek" (Skip Harvey, a bartender hoping to write a graphic novel and get feedback on his artwork at the convention), "The Solider," (Eric Henson, also hoping to become a comic book artist to support his wife and kids), "The Designer," (Holly Conrad, a young woman in a small, concise town who is designing costumes for a Mass Effect reenactment she hopes to put on), and "The Survivor," (Chuck Rozanski, a struggling-comic book store owner who is hellbent on making a huge profit by selling hundreds of comics at the convention. Including the extremely rare, first issue of Marvel's "Red Raven" which can command thousands of dollars online).
In the mix of chronicling these four strangers, Spurlock also sets his sights on getting opinions and commentary from actors and directors who have been to the Con themselves. One of them is Kevin Smith, my favorite director, who attends Comic-Con to provide a monstrous Q&A session in the largest room of the convention. Other celebrities include Hostel director Eli Roth, stating that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a passion for something you liked when you were young, Knocked Up star Seth Rogen, and comic book king Stan Lee.
We also follow a man who proposed to his girlfriend at Kevin Smith's panel last year at Comic-Con, as well as seeing a toy collector who is determined to acquire another entry in his prized collection, much to the dismay of his wife.
These people are genial, optimistic, and effortlessly likable. They aren't wallflowers, who sit back and expect to be taken under the wing immediately without contributing some amount of effort. They take the steps necessary in order to achieve their big goals. Comic book store owner Chuck seems to be the odd-man out when stating this, but if you look at his persistency, continuing to have faith in the comic book community and constantly spending money to run his store, he is truly fighting just as hard as the other subjects in the film. He already has his dream, he's just fighting to keep it.
The one downside with the documentary is Spurlock, himself, has virtually no part in the film whatsoever. This is quite a shame, seeing as we can see just by the way he captures the footage and edits it together (not to mention, last year, he wrote a book about the convention with the same title as the film) that he has a true love for the Con and the crowd it draws. Why doesn't he ever interact with the four subjects or the crowd themselves? It's a bummer because on top of him already remaining silent, it almost seems he doesn't have any questions for the people, when we already know that is highly unlikely. Spurlock seems to sit back and watch the fun happen, without ever getting involved or enjoying it for himself.
I would still call Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope a documentary that needed to be made. As I've grown older, I've found it important to look at all walks of life with an open mind, and to see documentaries further illustrate that idea is wonderful. This is definitely an eclectic and ambitious film, not only documenting an extremely popular convention, but the kinds of people you'll find there. From what I hear, that's half the fun of going.
Starring: Skip Harvey, Eric Henson, Holly Conrad, Chuck Rozanski, Kevin Smith, Seth Rogen, Eli Roth, and Stan Lee. Directed by: Morgan Spurlock.
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