If you never been to Comic-Con in San Diego, this two hour journey through the four day event doesn’t even come close to the OVERWHELMING feeling of being there. If you have been, it touches on some of the moments you may have had, and really points out how deeply personal Comic-Con can be for each and every person that attends.
So it was kinda fun, I suppose.
Morgan Spurlock, who we never see thankfully, takes what seems like 15 camera crews and follows different people to cover their stories and how they deal with the four days in July in San Diego. It is not remarkable that all the stories are completely separate and that none of them ever meet since the convention is so massive.
Those stories are intercut with snippets in front of a white wall from many of the attendees and workers of the Con who offer hilarious insights. Big names like Kevin Smith and Joss Whedon are intercut with regular fans as well. Nothing is said that you couldn’t learn if you spent even just ONE day at the convention. In the beginning, the tone of the movie teeters on mockery, but then, luckily, becomes heartfelt and engrossing. All the stories are intercut to counterpoint the other. The soldier/ artist that walks away from the portfolio review with job offers is contrasted by the geeky bar owner who is given polite constructive criticism on his artwork and it affects him emotionally. The young girl from San Bernardino who enters the masquerade for Mass Effect 3 costumes is intercut with the fan who plans to propose to his girlfriend at the Kevin Smith Q and A.
Clearly, I most resonated with Chuck the comic book dealer of Mile High Comics. They have the same booth every year and that is where my most recent purchase was, the “Watchmen” graphic novel. He voiced the concern that Comic-Con isn’t about the comics anymore, or the artists that draw them, but instead the TV and films that often have nothing to do with comics. He points out that Lucas Arts “owns the loading docks” at the back of the convention floor forcing others to load in somewhere else. It is like “ someone else took over your house.” About an hour in, they kind of hit it on head; the artists and writers complain about the unrelated TV series and the big names who are appear in giant room H to use this gathering as a launch for lame projects that has no bearing on a convention celebrating comic book art. It’s just big studios trying to squeeze dollars out of passionate followers.
And herein lies the IRONY.
Cute touching stories of marriage proposals and winning contests can’t wipe out the underlying fact that this is a big money documentary about a convention that has subsumed the small time creators for the big time studios to market their next wave of crap to a passionate community that originally came to San Diego to celebrate all things nerdy. As much as they try to make it seem like the filmmakers were always part of the inside group that always cared for the art form, they were clearly voyeurs that only wanted to make a loving doc that the 300,000 people that attend every year would watch and pay for. Placing some of the most famous names on the white screen was their ticket to ensure that it had marquee value. Kevin Smith, Joss Whedon, and Jon Schnepp were great, but the Marvel guys and studio jerks in polo shirts come off as the very pencil pushers that Jon Schnepp makes fun of in the beginning.
In fact, seeing reps from Marvel onscreen talking about Comic-Con was a shock considering they concentrate more on their movies rather than their comic books more and more each year. They have reaped millions from the fans of their titles and they have barely bothered to show up at this convention.
In the end, there is nothing revealing in the documentary other than they follow their people to the end of the Con, something that I never did because, probably, I was either overwhelmed or drunk. Frankly, the best night of the Con is the Sunday night closing party because that is when only the hardcore remain and the studio jerks, and documentary filmmakers are long gone.