Saturday, June 6, 2015

Howard the Duck (1986) **1/2

What if George Lucas made a superhero film? He did!  Back in the summer of 1986 Howard the Duck took a thrashing from critics and emptied multi-plexes. For what it's worth, Howard the Duck was the first marvel character to get their own movie.  Recently I had a chance to watch the film for the first time - and it wasn't too bad. 

Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz wrote and directed their adaption of the surly Marvel character created by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik.  Although they're not household names, they are important figures in the career of George Lucas.  They co-wrote American Graffiti and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  It's well documented they helped Lucas revise his original Star Wars script by injecting some much needed humor. Much of that style of screwball comedy makes it into Howard the Duck.

The movie begins with Howard miraculously being transported to Earth, Cleveland of all places.  Apparently he lived on a planet identical to earth, only ducks are the most intelligent species.  He is pursued by a space demon who wants to blow up the Earth.

Upon his arrival in Cleveland, Howard quickly befriends Beverly played by a delightful Lea Thompson. Beverly's the lead singer of an 80s New Wave band.  You can debate just how far their relationship actually went - all I can say it went to a place no Marvel film of 2015 would venture! Maybe the inter-species sexual tension proved too much for 1986 audiences. 

Also, don't miss an early Tim Robbins performance as a wacky scientist.

The movies ends with perhaps the most ridiculous chase sequence ever put on celluloid. 

Howard the Duck goes to great lengths to not take itself too seriously, while managing to entertain (if you are in the right mood.)

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