Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope

  • Review Date: March 26, 2012
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Geek tribes revel in docu about massive commercial event.
  • Review Date: March 26, 2012
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Geeks who might sometimes feel that their love of a particular part of pop culture makes them into social misfits can rejoice at Comic-Con, the largest gathering of their tribe. This is the place where they can truly relax and be who they really are and feel accepted.

Positive role models

The people featured in the documentary are all trying to live their dreams. While they don't all succeed, they're willing to take risks and work hard for the chance to turn their love of comics, fantasy, and sci-fi into a career. The featured celebs are all beloved as geek icons, and their confessions to also finding a home at Comic-Con makes them relatable.

Violence

Clips from featured/mentioned movies and video games include some violent scenes, mostly of the large-scale, explosive variety, though some include weapons, shooting, combat, etc.

Sex

Some of the female attendees dress in revealing costumes. Some sexual references in language.

Language

Language includes a couple of uses of "f--k" (courtesy of notorious potty mouth Kevin Smith), as well as "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," "d--k," "crap," "hard on," and "piss." "Ass" is seen on a T-shirt.

Consumerism

The entire film focuses on Comic-Con, said to be the world's largest gathering for fans of sci-fi/fantasy movies, TV shows, video games, and (of course) comic books. Attendees talk lovingly about their favorite titles, dealers try to sell their most valuable comics, and movie studio marketing executives explain why the convention is such an amazing place to promote their upcoming films.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A few early scenes take place in bars where people are drinking, though there's no drinking on screen once people arrive at the event.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Morgan Spurlock documentary captures the experience of going to Comic-Con, one of the world's largest conventions for fans of comic books, sci-fi, fantasy, video games, and other forms of pop culture. It follows six attendees as they prepare for the experience and then attend the four-day spectacle, interspersed with interviews with celebrities who reveal their inner geeks. Expect a bit of language (including "f--k" and "s--t") -- much courtesy of self-professed fanboy and notorious potty mouth Kevin Smith -- and a few revealing outfits. And, of course, Comic-Con glorifies a very commercial event that exists solely to promote movies, comics, merchandise, and other products, though it also celebrates following your dreams, no matter how geeky anyone might think they are.

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What's the story?

In COMIC-CON EPISODE IV: A FAN'S HOPE, director Morgan Spurlock trains his lens on Comic-Con, the annual San Diego event said to be the world's largest gathering of geeks. Spurlock follows six attendees -- two would-be illustrators, a costume maker, a comic merchant, and a couple who fell in love at the prior year's event -- through the four-day fest that celebrates sci-fi and fantasy movies, TV shows, video games, and comic books. Spurlock also sprinkles in interviews with celebrities, including Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith, and Stan Lee, who explain how Comic-Con fits into the pop-culture universe and why it's so important.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Spurlock, who has been the main character in most of his previous films, doesn't appear in Comic-Con. Instead, he lets the people at the show do all the talking, which is probably for the best. Talking to these loyal fans reveals the depths of their love -- for the event, for the genre, and for the massive spectacle of the entire geek tribe celebrating its shared appreciation for underappreciated art forms.

But that only goes so far. Limiting the film to the experiences of six people makes Comic-Con seem small. Yes, we see huge crowds and dozens of celebrity appearances, but the film doesn't quite give viewers the full experience. While it looks like they're all having plenty of fun, there's much more going on that we don't get to see -- and that looks like it could be even more exciting. Ultimately, going to Comic-Con is probably more of a thrill than watching a film about it.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Comic-Con. Would you like to attend the event? Why? What do you think it's intended to accomplish? Who is it meant to appeal to?

  • How do you think Comic-Con fits into the entertainment industry? Does it serve a purpose other than promoting the sale of various forms of pop culture?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 6, 2012
DVD release date:July 10, 2012
Cast:Kevin Smith, Seth Rogen, Stan Lee
Director:Morgan Spurlock
Studio:Wrekin Hill Entertainment
Genre:Documentary
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Superheroes, Misfits and underdogs, Space and aliens
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some sex and drug references, language and brief horror images

This review of Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope was written by

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  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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