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Marina Antunes [DVD News 07.09.12] documentary



I was a little sceptical when news surfaced that Morgan Spurlock was making a documentary about the largest gathering of geek culture in North America (if not the world): San Diego Comic Con. Spurlock's name is usually associated with hot-topic, conversation inducing and gimmicky documentaries and I feared his approach to geek culture might turn one of my favourite convergence of geekdom, conventions, into a laughing stock but with executive producers Joss Whedon, Stan Lee and Harry Knowles, all ambassadors of geek culture, on board, it was clear that Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope was not going to be the typical Spurlock documentary.

Shot on location at SDCC in 2010, Spurlock's movie provides a great inside look for anyone who has never been to a convention and always wondered what goes on there. As for convention attendees, it gives us a look into the largest of the conventions in a way that makes us feel like we've come home. We follow a couple of guys, artists who are trying to get noticed and break into the comic book industry, a group of costumers preparing for the Masquerade in hopes of that their work will get them noticed by the film industry, the collectors who run around the show floor in search of that one special item to elevate their collection and the seller who has been around since the convention was a gathering of 150 comic book readers. But SDCC has come a long way in it's 30 plus years.


As Stan Lee explains in an interview on the DVD extras, the convention used to be a gathering of comic nerds and the occasional parent but has now turned into a gathering of adults with the occasional kid. And I can certainly understand why. With more than 100,000 attendees, the last thing anyone would want to do is stand in line with an unhappy eight-year-old.

In its short running time, Spurlock and his team manage to cover all of the bases of conventions and the state of geek culture. There's the inevitable discussion on the changing comic book industry and the decline of readership of books, the collectibles market which seems to be doing well in spite of the downturn in the economy and even the acceptance of geek culture as something cool. In addition to interviews with comic and geek royalty (Kevin Smith, Stan Lee, Todd McFarlane, Frank Miller and Felicia Day to name only a few) Spurlock mixes in conversations with convention attendees and it's clear that these are normal people all of who share a passion for something, be it comics, movies, or TV. We're all part of the same tribe and SDCC is our tribal council.

As a geek and someone who has made the trek to a few conventions but who finds the very idea of SDCC daunting, it was fun to glimpse inside and discover that it's just like every other convention but on a significantly larger scale. I devoured the doc and every extra on this release (of which, thankfully, there are many) and was left with the feeling that I can't laminate my geek card until I too have made the trek to Geek Mecca.

I really enjoyed Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope with its light hearted, sincere and almost reverential look not only at conventions but geek culture in general.

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope is out on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, July 10th. Timely considering SDCC 2012 kicks off with preview night on Wednesday.

DVD Extras: Lots of extras on this release including a six minute behind the scenes video which shows the making of the documentary, nine minutes of deleted scenes and a one hour collection of interviews (some of which were not seen in the documentary) with Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, Kenneth Branagh, Todd McFarlane, Felicia Day, Joss Whedon, Robert Kirkman among many others.

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