Howard the Duck (1986) - Special Edition

Genre(s): Adventure / Comedy / Romance / Science Fiction
Universal || PG - 110 minutes - $14.98 || March 10, 2009
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2009-03-11


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Willard Huyck
Writer(s): Steve Gerber (comic books); Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz (written by)
Cast: Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones, Tim Robbins


Theatrical Release Date: August 1, 1986


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 3 Featurettes
  • Teaser Trailers


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: NA

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.::THE FILM::.

Finally. After years of waiting Howard the Duck has (officially!) been released on DVD. For so long many had assumed George Lucas hid the film and would not allow a release, but here I am, holding the white DVD case and disc in my hand. It's been well over a decade since I had last seen the film with a hazy memory of what happened. And now I get to experience it all over again...and what a giant mess this film is.

Based off the hit (!) comic-book, the film starts viewers off with a glimpse of Duckworld - the planet Howard lives on. Everything seems very familiar, not only do they have streets and houses, but magazines ("Rolling Eggs") and movies! As soon as Howard sits down in his recliner he is instantly pulled backwards through a force field and after what seems like hours he is plopped down on Planet Earth.

From there, Howard meets Beverley (Thompson), an attractive young female who sings in a band and lives life day by day. The two instantly click (not really addressing the fact much that she is talking to a DUCK) and Beverley offers to help Howard find a way back home. She enlists the help of her friend Phillip and soon they figure out that some science lab brought him down by accident and when they attempt to try and send him back they accidentally pull down some evil overlord who used another scientistís body (Jones) as a capsule to defeat the human race. Or something to that affect.

I'll give the film this - it was actually somewhat decent up until the 45 minute mark. As soon as Howard plans to go back home everything goes to hell. We get some pretty poor acting by Jeffrey Jones, what seems like a three hour adventure with Howard and Phillip flying a plane, and some laughable animation towards the end. What the hell happened? The film felt like a romance story and then it went into some sort of B-movie crapfest within minutes. Now I understand why Lucas wanted to hide this abomination from us.

Even with the PG rating this film is not for kids. In the first few minutes we are subjected to marijuana, beer and naked female ducks (with obvious breasts and nipples). This movie jumps back and forth between a kids film and adult film and ultimately that's what hurts it. Had they chosen the adult path and made the film a bit grittier it might have succeeded. Having Howard work at a sauna with people having sex... not kid friendly.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

A Look Back (27 Minutes) - Oh man. Now this is what fans want to see. We get a brief history on how the film came to be and how Lucas really wanted to do this film...and then he is quickly forgotten. Most of this deals with some script changes and behind the scenes footage (with several deleted scenes) and interviews with some of the cast.

Releasing the Duck (13 Minutes) - Failure is one word to use for this. If you want to know why the film failed, watch this.

Archival Features (11 Minutes) - I imagine some cast and crew are pretty embarrassed with these as they have interviews and footage well over twenty years old included here. Poor Lea Thompson.

Finally, two hilarious teaser trailers.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Howard the Duck is presented in 1.85:1 in Anamorphic Widescreen. For a film over twenty years old it looks pretty good on DVD. Grain in kept intact with only a few instances of minor Edge Enhancing.

Universal has included an English Dolby Digital 5.1 Track and Spanish/French 2.0 tracks. Not as thrilled here because I had to crank my receiver up just to hear dialog. Rears were adequate.



.::OVERALL::.

The only reason we are getting Howard the Duck on DVD is not because itís a great movie but because they have literally ran out of new catalog releases. This movie should be avoided at all costs unless you really want to punish yourself.