Howard The Duck (1986)

It’s safe to say that Marvel has had a revolutionary impact on the movie industry. Their constant stream of superhero blockbusters has transformed the way films are enjoyed, compared, and even made. Every franchise is practically now a “cinematic universe” all thanks to the success of Marvel. But this wasn’t always the case, in 1986 there was hardly any, however, legendary film-maker George Lucas attempted to remedy this, his solution, a little comic book called Howard the Duck.

Howard getting a less than friendly reception.
Howard getting a less than friendly reception.

Howard is a duck, from Duckworld (a world like our own but full of ducks), who gets stranded in our dimension. While here, Howard must team up with Lea Thompson and Tim Robbins to defeat the Dark Overlord of the Universe. The story serves as a great introduction to the comics while serving as a strong contained instalment on its own, with each of the characters, and the plot itself, feeling at home on the big screen.

It's hard to watch this film without thinking about how, in eight years, Tim Robbins will end up winning our hearts as Andy Dufresne.
It’s hard to watch this film without thinking about how, in eight years, Tim Robbins will end up winning our hearts as Andy Dufresne.

Howard is a cigar smoking, guitar playing, joke telling, a real duck of the world and as a protagonist who is technically a complete alien he’s really engaging and quite down to earth. Much of the sympathy we feel for him comes from his relationship with Lea Thompson’s character, wannabe rock-goddess, Beverly Switzler. Lea Thompson manages combines mid-eighties pop-rock attitude with real heart and emotion and gives an amazing follow-up performance from her recent success in Back to the Future.

Lea Thompson sang all the songs herself.
Lea Thompson sang all the songs herself.

Speaking of music, the film’s soundtrack is provided by new wave star Thomas Dolby. This along with the use of vibrant neon lighting and brazenly loud clothing and fashion choices, help give the film a wonderful eighties aesthetic straight out of a Patrick Nagel painting. There’s also a strong attention to detail throughout the film. It makes spotting all the background jokes a delight, adding a strong element of re-watchability.

Howard's wallet containing many of the subtle details that are in this film.
Howard’s wallet containing many of the subtle details that are in this film.

Howard the Duck is a just under two-hour comic joyride with a surprising combination of talent, comedy, and style, there is something in this film for everybody. While at the time, it didn’t culminate into a big franchise, but as a stand-alone film, Howard the Duck is anything but a lame duck.

There’s a strong eighties look throughout the film. Maybe it’s the hair?
There’s a strong eighties look throughout the film. Maybe it’s the hair?

Do you agree or disagree? or have a suggestion for another pop-culture artifact that needs a positive light shone on it? Leave a comment in comment box below! But remember to keep it positive!

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