Fun and funny 'Comic-Con' documentary is almost like being there

Published: Tuesday, July 31 2012 4:13 p.m. MDT

A documentary about Comic-Con leads these new films on DVD this week.

“Comic-Con: Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope” (Wrekin Hill, 2012, PG-13, $19.99). Morgan Spurlock (“Supersize Me”) directed this entertaining documentary about the annual convention of sci-fi/fantasy fans gathering to see the latest in comics and video games, attend panels with movie stars and filmmakers, and take part in a variety of activities, such as the highly anticipated costume contest. And there are plenty of costumed attendees roaming about.

Spurlock follows five people there for disparate reasons, one planning to surprise his girlfriend with a proposal. He also interviews such high-profile regulars as Matt Groening, Kevin Smith, Seth Rogen, Stan Lee and Joss Whedon, who are also on the credits as executive producers.

The result is fun and funny, and Spurlock juggles the various stories in expert fashion, eschewing the kind of complaints and quibbles you can find all over the Internet about the event. This is not an in-depth tell-all; it’s more of a mash note.

“Heaven Strewn” (Cinema Libre, 2011, $19.95, trailers). This well-crafted crime thriller is at its best developing the relationships between the main characters, a pair of recovering addicts, one a newspaper freelancer and the other a counterfeiter who takes his friend into the Nevada desert for criminal purposes without telling him the truth. Profane but solid low-budget debut from talented first-time filmmaker J.T. Gurzi. (Also on Blu-ray, $24.95.)

“Going for Gold: The ’48 Games” (BBC, 2012, $19.97). Matt Smith (the current “Doctor Who”) and Sam Hoare star in the true story of a pair of mismatched double-sculling partners paired just five weeks before the 1948 Summer Olympic Games in London, as England is still recovering from the devastation of World War II. It’s no “Chariots of Fire” (despite a comparison on the box) but it is a well-played, enjoyable period piece that examines class distinctions.

“LOL” (Lionsgate, 2012, PG-13, $19.98, audio commentary, featurettes). Miley Cyrus stars in this arch comedy-drama as a modern teen, reliant on social networking as she navigates high school, adolescent romance and an adversarial relationship with her divorced mother (Demi Moore). Strictly for Cyrus fans. (Also on Blu-ray, $24.99.)

“Blue Like Jazz” (Lionsgate, 2012, PG-13, $27.98, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, photo gallery, trailer). Gritty Christian film about a virginal Baptist student from Texas in a Northwestern liberal-arts college plays out like a sleazy frat-house farce too much of the way, which may be off-putting to its potential audience. Based on the best-selling memoir by Donald Miller. (Also on Blu-ray, $39.99.)

“4.3.2.1” (Universal/Blu-ray, 2010, $26.98, featurette). Emma Roberts is the most recognizable face among the four young women who star in this comedy-drama about BFFs in London who go their separate ways until each individually becomes involved in a diamond heist. Kevin Smith has a self-deprecating cameo. Unfocused and odd. (Also on DVD, $19.98.)

“ATM” (IFC, 2012; R for violence, language; $29.98, featurette, trailer). Claustrophobic slasher flick has three co-workers trapped in an ATM booth while a hooded figure commits bloody mayhem in the parking lot. (Also on DVD, $24.98.)

“Jodi Picoult Collection” (Lifetime, 2002-11, two discs, $19.95). Three Lifetime Channel movies based on Jodi Picoult novels. The best is the twisty thriller “Plain Truth,” with Mariska Hargitay (“Law & Order: SVU”) as a big-city attorney defending an Amish girl accused of killing her baby. Also here are “Salem Falls,” with James Van Der Beek as an apparently innocent soccer coach accused of rape, and “The Pact,” about two teens’ suicide pact, with Megan Mullally.

“Surviving High School” (Lifetime, 2005-10, two discs, $19.95). Four Lifetime Channel movies: “Odd Girl Out,” with Alexa Vega as a middle-schooler who inexplicably becomes a target for high school bullying; “Augusta, Gone,” about a teenage girl whose drinking and drug use spirals out of control; “The Perfect Teacher” becomes the object of affection for a spoiled high schooler; and the best of these, “For One Night,” a true story of a black teacher (Raven-Symone) who shakes up a small town where high school proms are segregated.

E-MAIL: hicks@desnews.com

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