Sunday, 23 November 2014

Howard the Duck (4 Stars)

This film, made in 1986, is based on the Marvel Comics character with the same name. The original comic book series was published from 1973 to 1979. When the character's creator, Steve Gerber, left Marvel under bad terms he attempted to sue Marvel for ownership of the character. After an out-of-court settlement Howard remained part of the Marvel universe.

The film is famous for being the first cinema film based on a Marvel character. However, it was a box office flop, not managing to earn back its budget, and it is often called one of the worst films ever made.

Why? What's so bad about it?

My suspicion is that the film critics just didn't get it. It's fairly successful at capturing the atmosphere of the comics. The special effects are good (for the 1980's), apart from the giant scorpions at the end of the film which look unconvincing. The acting is okay, if you consider camp to be okay. Howard himself is played as a straight character, while the comedy comes from the humans around him.

The comic book "Howard the Duck" was never intended to be a comedy. It was a satire. Steve Gerber was making fun of American society and comic books, especially his own bosses at Marvel. The comic wasn't intended for children, and neither was the film. This is made obvious at the beginning when Howard comes home from work and leers at the centrefold in the latest issue of "Playduck". Later on in the film he goes to bed with a human, but he's too nervous to go all the way. That's a shame. It would have been the first human-duck sexual encounter in the history of cinema.

The film's music is cheesy, especially the featured band, Cherry Bomb. But what do you expect, it was the 1980's! They look and sound like any bottom of the bill glam metal band of the decade.

Summing up, it's nowhere near as bad a film as people say. Not an absolute masterpiece, but still worth watching. Please leave comments with your opinion about this film, especially if you like it.

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