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

Hey guys, Ben here.. I recently saw this film and absolutely loved it.  Comic Con is my home away from home and getting to watch this documentary brought back all sorts of happy feelings.  I came across a review from a blogger calling herself Horrorella that I thought did a great job describing the film and she was kind enough to share it with everyone here on Monster Popcorn.  You can check out Horrorella’s blog over at horrorella.com and can find her on Twitter at @horrorellablog.  Here’s what she had to say:

Last night I sat down to watch Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope (and in case you were wondering, I had a BLAST).  This is the latest documentary from director Morgan Spurlock, produced by the likes of Joss Whedon, Stan Lee and Harry Knowles.  Made BY geeks, FOR geeks.  You can’t ask for much more than that.

The film follows several attendees at the 2010 Comic-Con who each have a particular goal at the convention: job prospects as an artist, fame and glory in the annual Masquerade, obtaining a valued collectible, selling comics to enthusiasts and collectors… but the film is also peppered with interviews with famous and non-famous geeks telling stories and explaining what they love about the convention.  From giants of the industry like Stan Lee and Frank Miller to fans who have made geekdom part of their own culture, like Kevin Smith and Seth Green, to random Con attendees the producers just pulled off the floor, they are all there to experience the Geek Mecca that is Comic-Con and to bask in its nerdtastic glory.

The film touches on the various elements that make up Comic-Con (panels, collectibles, cosplay, movie stars, studio execs, and – gasp! even the comics industry) but its focal point is more on the people who attend and the joy that they get out of the experience.  This film is, first and foremost, a love letter to fandom.  It celebrates that indescribable geek love and devotion that Comic-Con centers around, whether it’s for a comic book, a particular character, a video game franchise, a television series, a movie – you name it.  To love it with an intense passion and a virtually limitless amount of enthusiasm.

To have that feeling that the art, whatever the medium, is speaking directly to you and to recognize and embrace the impact that it has had on your life.  The fans so devoted to Star Trek that they learned the Klingon language.  The Metroid players who still remember sitting on the edge of their seats in the middle of the night, terrified as they explored the lava-filled depths of Norfair with only twenty energy left in their last tank.  The people who have watched Star Wars so many times that they know it shot for shot and have every syllable of dialogue memorized, yet still experience the same level of awe and excitement as the first time they saw it back in ‘77.  The collector who will search to the ends of the earth for the one mint issue that will make his collection complete.  This is the culture that the Con and the film celebrate.

Spurlock doesn’t aim to teach you about nerdery or about the convention itself.  Instead, he aims to connect you with the people who are there to experience it.  This doc was an interesting departure for him in that he doesn’t appear in it at all.  In his past films, he has played the host, guiding us through the film and its subject with interviews, animated illustrations and personal experiments.  It’s been a great method so far, but the choice to stay off camera and let the interviewees do the talking really lends itself well to this particular subject.  Comic-Con: Episode IV doesn’t require the level of hand-holding that he has used in the past because the film’s audience already knows what they’re in for. They’re not here to learn – they are here to geek.  So he lets the culture speak for itself.

I’ve never been to Comic-Con but I have been to PAX (Penny Arcade’s own Gabe and Tycho are featured briefly in the doc as the dudes geeking out over the AWESOME Mass Effect 2 costumes on the show floor).  I live in Seattle and attend PAX every year, and listening to these attendees express their joy of attending the Con gets my PAX feelings a-rumbling. There is something profoundly magical about being in a place with a bazillion people who are not only into the same things you are into but are as crazy-excited about them as you are.  It generates SUCH a positive vibe.  It sounds totally hokey, I know, but every time I think about PAX, the first thing I remember is how happy it makes me feel and how much fun everybody is having.  I’m not kidding when I say that it’s a gathering of me and 65k of my closest friends.  Everyone is excited, everyone is there to have a good time and when you look around the room, you know you are surrounded by your people.  You know you are home.  That is the vibe that this film projects.  That is what its attendees are feeling and expressing.  And it’s amazing.  If you’ve been to any gatherings like these then you know exactly what I’m talking about.  And if you haven’t, seeing this film will make you want to experience this miracle even more.  I dare you to try and watch it without a big, sappy, dumb-ass grin on your face.  It’s not even possible.  Comic-Con Episode IV celebrates everything we love about geekdom and invites us to share it with each other.

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope is slowly crawling through a limited theatrical release.  But if you’re like me and didn’t have any patience whatsoever, you can view it on pretty much any digital VOD platform, which you should. Now.

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