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Brisbane 2011 Review: Comic Con IV - A Fan's Hope

Living, breathing unapologetic ode to geek-dom that is also notable for being the first Morgan Spurlock doc that doesn't actually feature the filmmaker and the first that doesn't ridicule its own subject matter.

rating: 4

Comic Con IV: A Fan's Hope (a titular mocker to movie geek expectation) is more then just an insight into San Diego's world famous sci-fi convention. It's a living, breathing unapologetic ode to geek-dom that is also notable for being the first Morgan Spurlock doc that doesn't actually feature Morgan Spurlock and the first that doesn't ridicule its own subject matter, (see Super Size Me, Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold). Assisting Spurlock on his intergalactic mission to unveil the obsessive compulsive urges that fuel nerdy behaviour are such sci-fi luminaries as Joss Whedon, Stan Lee and Harry Knowles, who all lend a degree of gravitas to proceedings. But it is the fans that are the true stars of this show. We meet and greet The Geek and The Soldier - two amateur rejection fearing comic-strip artists striving to gain acceptance from professional comic book publishers. We're introduced to The Survivor - a crusty comic-book hauler (with an intimidating warehouse collection) who faces financial ruin if he doesn't shift some rags soon but comes to realise that comic-con is less about actual comics these days. Then there's 'The Designer' who has a desire to win a Cosplay prize for her creative costume and impressive animatronic creature effects, (even if one character creation rather closely resembles someone out of Attack of the Clones). Also included is the rather obsessive behaviour of 'The Collector' and his quest to obtain several prized action figures. Finally we meet The Lovers - a couple of inseparable sci-fi romantics with an affectionate case of nerd love. It's an encouraging enterprise, laced with humour, sadness and surprising suspenseful moments that go some way in exploring the trials and tribulations of sci-fi devotees who are desperate to realise their hopes and dreams at Comic-Con. One scenario involving the male half of 'The Lovers' and his doomed attempts to set-up the ultimate surprise marriage proposal at a Kevin Smith convention is particularly tension inducing, especially as his loved one continues to cling to him like a crazed xenomorphic face-hugger throughout. Additionally this doc serves as an insightful critique of pop culture and how Hollywood has wizened up to the financial incentives and movie marketing potential of Comic-Con. We learn for instance how audience 'clappage' is monitored at conventions to try and gauge the popularity potential of future sci-fi shows. The doc is also interspersed with interviews from an impressively diverse line-up of talents across the sci-fi and fantasy stratosphere; Corey Feldman, Frank Miller, Eli Roth, Kevin Smith (hilarious), Guillermo del Toro, Olivia Wilde, Stan Lee, Harry Knowles, Seth Rogen et al - all adding colour and comedy to proceedings by shedding some personal insight into how Comic-Con has impacted their lives and careers. Ultimately you exit A Fan's Hope realising that living out your fantasies in a fictional alternative universe may not be such an outlandish prospect after all.
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Oliver Pfeiffer is a freelance writer who trained at the British Film Institute. He joined OWF in 2007 and now contributes as a Features Writer. Since becoming Obsessed with Film he has interviewed such diverse talents as actors Keanu Reeves, Tobin Bell, Dave Prowse and Naomie Harris, new Hammer Studios Head Simon Oakes and Hollywood filmmakers James Mangold, Scott Derrickson and Uk director Justin Chadwick. Previously he contributed to dimsum.co.uk and has had other articles published in Empire, Hecklerspray, Se7en Magazine, Pop Matters, The Fulham & Hammersmith Chronicle and more recently SciFiNow Magazine and The Guardian. He loves anything directed by Cronenberg, Lynch, Weir, Haneke, Herzog, Kubrick and Hitchcock and always has time for Hammer horror films, Ealing comedies and those twisted Giallo movies. His blog is: http://sites.google.com/site/oliverpfeiffer102/