Ok. We all know that in recent years, movies based off of Marvel Comics characters have been some of the best movies out there. At the very least, they are making a lot of money for Disney. But what if I was to tell you that one of the first theatrical films that was ever based on a Marvel Comic is considered one of the worst movies ever made. What if I also told you that George Lucas (yes, that George Lucas) was the producer for said film. Well that just so happens to be the case with today’s movie, Howard The Duck.
The plot: On a distant planet where anthromorphic ducks are the dominant species, a duck named Howard is relaxing after a hard day’s work. Suddenly, some strange force sends Howard crashing through his apartment and into space. Howard crash lands in an alley outside of a night club where, after being chased and harassed by several people, he winds up hiding in a barrel. Later that night, Howard rescues Beverly, the lead singer of an all girl band called Cherry Bomb, from being attacked by a pair of thugs and, taking pity on Howard, Beverly lets him crash at her apartment. The next day, Beverly takes Howard to the museum to see her friend Phil, thinking that he can help figure out how Howard got to Earth. However, when he learns that Phil is actually a janitor, Howard gets mad and leaves the museum, getting into an arguement with Beverly in the process. On his own, Howard resigns himself to trying to get a job but after dealing with an abusive boss at a romance spa, he quits and winds up back at the club where Beverly is performing. Inside the club, Howard runs into Ginger, Beverly’s manager, and after beating his goons, Howard gets the money Ginger owes the girls and convinces him to break his contract with them. Backstage, Howard apologizes to Beverly then lets the band know what happened with Ginger. Back at Beverly’s apartment, Beverly tries to convince Howard to be the band’s new manager before they get into bed to watch TV. Beverly jokingly begins to flirt with Howard but they are interrupted by Phil, who brings his friend Carter and Dr, Jenning with him. Jenning explains that he had been experimenting with a laser telescope when something directed the beam at Howard’s planet, resulting in Howard being brought to Earth. Theorizing that it might be possible to reverse the process and send Howard back, Jenning heads back to the lab to start the process while leaving Carter and Phil to bring Howard and Beverly. When they get to the lab, they discover that an explosion had occurred and Jenning was missing. The cops arrive and after questioning everyone, they arrest Howard but Beverly manages to help Howard escape. They run into Jenning and manage to get away from the lab but when they stop at a diner, they learn that Jenning has been possessed by an alien creature called a Dark Overlord. At the diner, Howard is attacked by several of the patrons and the staff but Jenning winds up saving Howard before he knocks him out and takes Beverly back to the lab. When the police show up at the diner, Howard frees Phil from a cop car and the two manage to escape in an ultralight, with the cops giving pursuit. Howard and Phil make it back to the lab and, in order to stop Jenning, decide to use an experimental weapon called the neutron disintegrator. Using the neutron disintegrator, Howard blasts Dr. Jenning, but the explosion causes the Dark Overlord to emerge from Jenning’s body. The Dark Overlord traps Beverly and Phil in a stasis field then starts the Laser Telescope so that he can bring more of his species to Earth. Howard is able to kill the Dark Overlord and then, in order to prevent the rest of the aliens from making it to Earth, he uses the neutron disintegrator to destroy the telescope. Stuck on Earth, Howard winds up becoming the manager for Beverly’s band and the film ends wiht them playing to a sold out crowd.
Howard The Duck was pretty much panned by the critics, earning a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many people have considered it one of the worst movies ever made and some of the incidents that occurred as a result of the film, such as one of the heads of Universal studios resigning (supposedly over this movies bombing at the box office) and George Lucas selling some of his assets to stay afloat, have only reinforced those notions. Howard The Duck was nominated for seven Razzies and would go on to win four of them; Worst Screenplay, Worst Visual Effects, Worst New Star (for all 7 people to play Howard), and Worst Movie (tied with Under The Cherry Moon). The audiences didn’t seem to care for the movie as shown by it’s making a little over $37 million worldwide, which was only about $1 million more than the budget for the film.
As a kid, I thought this movie was funny. As an adult, I can admit that this is not that good of a movie, but it is still funny in that “so bad it’s good” way. The acting wasn’t that bad for the most part although Tim Robbins’ character was pretty annoying. I will admit that the story was a bit of a mess and a lot of the story elements would have been done better if this was an animated film, rather than a live action one. Some of the special effects in the movie were decent but some looked pretty lame. Personally, I think that the Dark Overlord alien was the inspiration for the Violator demon in the Spawn comics. To be honest, I think that that if this movie had been released at a later date, it probably would not have been a box office smash like some of the recent movies, but it probably would have done better than it actually did. Still, this is a pretty entertaining movie to watch so just relax and have some fun with it.
Rating: 3 out of 5