Comic Book: the Movie Mark Hamill

The age of DVDs has started a new phenomenon of the extras and bonus features on the disk being more interesting and enjoyable than the movie itself. Comic Book: The Movie is a perfect example; it's a mockumentary directed by and starring Mark Hamill about Hollywood reinventing beloved comic book heroes that is flat and mildly amusing. Meanwhile, the extras, including lengthy interviews with Stan Lee, comic book artists and voiceover actors, provide funny and interesting stories about the industry and its history. The fake story of Don Swan (Hamill) visiting a comic book convention just gets in the way. Swan is a comic book fan hired by a production company to make a "behind the scenes" film for Codename Commando, based on Golden Age comic Captain Commando. The story has been revamped for modern audiences, much to Swan's chagrin, and he sets out to bring the true comic book hero to the silver screen. It's the old story of an underdog versus big business; the true love of a fan against the cold machine of Hollywood. Hamill and crew interact with real Comic-Con conventioneers who play along and do their best to ignore the fact that they're talking to Luke Skywalker. Hamill is a good sort, and pretty funny, but it would have really helped to have someone who could act in the lead. When he's up against Bruce Campbell or Kevin Smith, people who are comfortable with adlibbing in front of a camera, his awkwardness is too obvious. Comic Book: The Movie is filled with a great list of cameos. Swan interviews Ray Harryhausen, Jonathon Winters, Hugh Hefner, Stan Lee and Matt Groening, to name just a few. The rest of the cast is made up of voiceover actors who are rarely seen in front of the camera. Aside from the annoying cameraman (Jess Harnell, who provides voices for Animaniacs), they're all funny. (And I'm happy to see Tom Kenny any time.) The story, however, doesn't go anywhere and is little more than an excuse for great walk-ons. Any film, whether fiction or documentary, needs a narrative arc, which Comic Book sorely lacks. Hell, even the Deaner got testicular cancer. (Miramax/Buena Vista)