Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan's Hope 2011 ★★★★

Morgan Spurlock adds another cheerful documentary to his resume, but for the first time he stays entirely out of the way himself. Comic-Con: Episode IV - A Fan's Hope instead follows several fans and a comic book dealer, and lets them as well as a multitude of high profile people (Stan Lee, Frank Miller, Kevin Smith, Joss Whedon, etc.) do all the talking.

It's an effective and affectionate look at the famous convention, and while the documentary touches on some of the negative aspects – primarily the relegation of comics to second banana rank at their own show – it's first and foremost a fun portrait of the four-day event. Is there more dirt that Spurlock could have dug up? Maybe there is, but this is a documentary about what draws tens of thousands of people to gather in San Diego every year, not about what may or may not be wrong with that.

The film captures the convention atmosphere well, and also manages to nicely build up tension for the storylines of each of the people we follow: the two fledgling comic book artists who come clutching portfolios, hoping to get discovered; the costume designer who hopes to attract professional attention with her Mass Effect 2 cosplay; the comic book dealer who struggles with dwindling sales; the fan who plans to propose to his girlfriend at the Kevin Smith panel. Without giving too much away, Comic-Con: Episode IV is for the most part a sweet, feel-good documentary, and will leave anyone with a geek bone in their body with a silly grin on their face.

It's worth mentioning that the movie came to me courtesy of an iTunes rental. New movies like this are usually kept behind a glass wall of taunting geoblocks if you happen to live outside of North America. Comic-Con: Episode IV, happily, is not. More of this, please!

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