On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: COMIC-CON EPISODE FOUR: A FAN’S HOPE (Gravitas) .
COMIC-CON EPISODE FOUR: A FAN’S HOPE
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a new doc from stuntumentarian Morgan Spurlock. After taking on fast food in SUPERSIZE ME, terrorism in WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN, and the business of product placement in POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, Spurlock’s new film faces the final frontier, the San Diego Comic-Con. With his cameras floating amidst over 130,000 fanboys, geeks, and sci-fi mavens, Spurlock tells the buoyantly enjoyable story of the people who make an annual pilgrimage to the shrine devoted to all things comic, sci-fi, and fantasy-related.
And one of the best things to say about the film: Spurlock isn’t in it.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Spurlock has made some of the most entertaining docs of the last ten years, but as it with Michael Moore’s oeuvre, Spurlock’s subject matter is often secondary to the carnival barking of its filmmaker. No matter what he is tackling, Spurlock undercuts his subject by making himself the center of attention and often comes off as tiresomely indulgent. No such problem plagues COMIC-CON EPISODE FOUR: A FAN’S HOPE and the film is better for it. Just as Spike Lee showed his faculty for a genre piece with INSIDE MAN, Spurlock proves that by remaining behind the camera, he can tell a fuller, more character-centric story.
Actually, Spurlock tells multiple stories, spotlighting a cross-section of Con attendees who represent a variety of races, ages, and genders. His through-lines are diverse and compelling, focusing on two aspiring comic artists, a costume fabricator who creates replicas of videogame characters, a Denver-based comics dealer seeking a big sale, and even a self-proclaimed “geek couple” for whom the Con will be a life-changing event.
Heartfelt, goofy, and never condescending, COMIC-CON EPISODE FOUR: A FAN’S HOPE is a buoyant look at an event where, no matter what your denomination, Trek or Galactica, you’re welcome. Spurlock highlights that camaraderie that permeates the event, which is populated by a huge cross section of ages and races. Throughout the film, Spurlock offers Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith, Stan Lee, and others to wax rhapsodic about the annual gathering as “a big reward for being passionate about something that doesn’t exist.”
Not all of Spurlock’s story lines pay off, but those that do are both charming and affecting. He gives all the geeks and nerds the opportunity to show their love for all things fantastic and gives lie to the cliché that the Con gang is comprised of pasty-faced zeroes living in their moms’ basements.
Most of the attendees, it appears, are contributing members of society with jobs, spouses, and children. But Spurlock never lets the audience lose sight of the childlike wonder of the Comic-Con faithful; as one grizzled old comic dealer says, “When a woman tells you to grow up, that’s God’s way of telling you to get a new woman.”
COMIC-CON EPISODE FOUR: A FAN’S HOPE
is one of the best documentaries of the year.
Spurlock’s deft and dignified discourse is a delight from beginning to end. If you’re after a spirited celebration of the eccentric, committed, and passionate pilgrims who flock annually to their Mecca, beam in for COMIC-CON EPISODE FOUR: A FAN’S HOPE.
Chris Claro is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. He is a former Director of Promotion for Sundance Channel and now works as a writer, producer, and media educator. He is a regular contributor to dvdverdict.com and contributor to the Eyes and Ears section of huffingtonpost.com
Look for COMIC-CON EPISODE FOUR: A FAN’S HOPE (Gravitas) on demand.
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