USA TODAY US Edition
Comic-con doc could use a little rebellion
What’s missing in Morgan Spurlock’s latest documentary is a key ingredient: Morgan Spurlock.
In Comic-con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, Spurlock lets aficionados, collectors, wannabe artists and famous folks do all the talking instead of providing his trademark witty and affable on-screen involvement. The result is a repetitive tribute to the ’Con, an event that feels like home to some.
But how about some homeland analysis?
We get it: Fans love it, and it’s a fun place to geek out en masse. Perhaps because he is essentially a fan, Spurlock doesn’t give the subject his usual incisive treatment, as in his clever skewering of product placement in The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and the eye-opening, funny and sometimes horrifying Super Size Me. Here, he eschews his blend of self-deprecation and gentle parody to stay behind the scenes. The problem with this approach, filmed at the convention in 2010, is that few of the non-pros are as engaging as he is. And the professionals — writers, directors, actors and purveyors of the material showcased at the ’Con — have a clear stake in singing its praises.
A good portion of the documentary does capture the frenzied fun that is Comic-con. And it clearly conveys the message that the San Diegobased convention is no longer a rarefied gathering of a few hundred fringe comic-book fans but is now a pop-culture barometer attracting 150,000 people of all ages. But that’s hardly news. If only Spurlock had delved more deeply into how the shift happened. When did fanaticism be- come mainstream? Instead, we hear the obvious: that movie studios use the ’Con as a place to test the appeal of their upcoming blockbusters and build anticipation.
Rambling and scattershot, the film seems to be made expressly for the fans, not for a wider audience. Often funny, it’s also occasionally tedious and marred by too many talking heads — even if the heads are wearing Storm Trooper helmets or bulbous animatronic masks. A mordant word or two would have been welcome.