Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope
Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope is Murgan Spurlock’s latest documentary, one in which he does not feature himself but rather different people making their annual pilgrimage to the mecca of geekdom: Comic-Con. Even though he’s not in front of the camera this time, this is still a pretty engaging documentary that shows us what’s at stake for the people who see Comic-Con not just as a venue where they can celebrate their niche cultures but also a place where their dreams can be realized.
It helps to be a geek yourself, especially since interviews of popular geek figures like Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith and the legendary Stan Lee are scattered throughout the movie. But even if you’re just a casual spectator curious about their insulated world, Spurlock does a good job of – dare I say it – “humanizing” the geek specimen. Anxieties about the economy, establishing a career, and marriage are some the universally relatable concerns that are faced by the colorful characters in this documentary. And even more compelling than the depiction of the agony and ecstasy of being a geek is the tragic story of this community trying to preserve its roots and fighting off the onslaught of commercialization that has enabled posers and geek wannabes to walk on the hallowed grounds of Exhibit Hall H. And by watching this movie, we, of course, are implicated in that.
Jesus Henry Christ
One can not watch this movie without being reminded of Wes Anderson. The perfectly composed shots, the eccentric characters and the quirky dialogue make Dennis Lee’s film seem derivative of the more famous auteur’s work. This isn’t to detract from the wonderful performances that can be found in this movie – its just that the formula of having a child prodigy live and interact with flawed family members already worked in The Royal Tenenbaums. And sad to say, this movie just doesn’t live up to that standard.
I have to hand it to Jason Spevack though, the child actor who gave a convincing performance as Henry. Henry was gifted (or cursed, depends on how you see it) with a mental condition that allows him to remember everything he sees, down to the very last detail, and the film follows him as he tries to find the man who donated the sperm his mother used to conceive him. His relationship with his mother, played by Toni Collette, is perhaps the best part of this movie and it leads to some heartwarming scenes. But Lee tries to do too much with his issue-laden characters, including Michael Sheen as Henry’s biological father and Samantha Weinstein as his half-sister, and the movie soon devolves into a heap of overstylized oddities. Visual quirkiness is good – but it doesn’t always make for a good movie. This movie needs a better written story to accompany its style.