19 March 2009

DVD: "Howard the Duck" - Special Edition

Howard the Duck
Directed by Willard Huyck
Screenplay by Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz
Based on the Marvel Comics Character "Howard the Duck" Created by Steve Gerber
Starring: Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones, Tim Robbins
DVD Release Date: 10 March 2009
MPAA Rating: PG
List Price: $14.98
Cinescopes Personality Types: Magical Creator, Youthful Sage, Chosen Adventurer

The Film
Minding his own business, Howard is inexplicably drawn from Duckworld and through space to ours.  His only companion is Beverly (Thompson), leader of an up-and-coming girl band in Cleveland.  Through Phil (Robbins), they are introduced to Dr. Jenning (Jones), who is apparently responsible for the scientific-experiment-gone-wrong that drew Howard here in the first place.  Their effort to reverse the action and send Howard home backfires, though, instead retrieving one of the banished Dark Lords from space!

The DVD
There are two new features; one, "A Look Back at Howard the Duck" focuses on the production of the film.  The other, "Releasing the Duck," spotlights post-production and the disappointing reaction to the film upon its release in 1986.  There are four vintage features that last a few minutes apiece, and two teaser trailers.  Curiously, the trailers play back-to-back and there is no option of viewing them individually.

The Recommendation
George Lucas, Gloria Katz, Willard Huyck--their previous collaboration was the outstanding American Graffiti.  Lea Thompson was fresh off Back to the Future; Tim Robbins, Top Gun on his way to his breakout in Bull Durham.  Katz and husband Huyck felt this would have been better as an animated feature and Universal was too impatient to wait that long.  Still, being in the hands of Phil Tippett (stop-motion effects), Ben Burtt (sound editing) and John Barry (composer) should have been a safe place for any film.  The film has developed a cult following, and these fans would argue that it was simply ahead of its time.  They may be right.  Aside from the fact that, obviously, today the film would have a CGI Howard, it has aged fairly well in truth; parents should know, however, that this was a 1986 PG; today, it would easily be a PG-13.

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