‘Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


I am on the record – aggressively so – as being opposed to the mentality that has turned Comic-Con, the annual San Diego geek festival, into the force that seems to guide Hollywood.

So I walked into Morgan Spurlock’s “Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope” (in limited release 4/6/12) with extra trepidation. (Yes, I know, I’ve often talked about approaching each movie with a blank slate, taking it on its own terms blah blah blah. Hey, I’m only human.)

But I came out vastly entertained, admiring all over again the intelligence and humanity with which Spurlock imbues each of his films. He’s a filmmaker who always has a unique angle, a different take, a sense of compassion and wit – all of which make “Comic-Con” an insightful and just plain surprising documentary.

It’s not that Spurlock isn’t out to show the massive weirdness and frothing fanboy gush that Comic-Con is. He does – in spades. But he also wants to show the diversity and dedication of the people who have turned Comic-Con into the tail that wags the dog of Hollywood these days.

So, while he offers interviews with a variety of the celebrities who hover like gods over the Comic-Con consciousness – everyone from Joss Whedon to Kevin Smith to toad-like Harry Knowles – his true focus is on the men (and women) on a mission at the 2010 Comic-Con, to which his cameras apparently had an all-access pass.

He zeroes in on two would-be comic-book artists, who want their portfolios to be appraised by various publishers, in hopes of landing work drawing the comics they love. He finds a woman in San Bernardino, who dreams of being a movie costume designer – and who has put together a brief tableau in which she and her friends dress up and act out a scene from the video game, “Mass Effect.”

There’s the nerdy young couple that met at Comic-Con the year before; the young man wants to propose marriage to his girlfriend during a Kevin Smith event. But she’s so clingy that he almost can’t shake her long enough to retrieve the “Lord of the Rings”-inspired engagement ring with which he hopes to present her.

Most poignantly, there is Chuck Rozanski, owner of Mile High Comics in Denver, who has the world’s largest inventory of comic books.

This review continues on my website.

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