February 5, 2009
The first time I saw this I enjoyed it in the same way that I enjoy watching, say, Plan 9 From Outer Space-style tat- I enjoyed laughing at it rather than with it. This was my second viewing and I didn’t enjoy it half as much and by the end I was bored to tears. I’m by no means a Tim Burton fan because of his ‘distinctive style’ which is a polite euphemism for lack of variety, but he has made some films I’ve really enjoyed. With this, though, he shows no objectivity whatsoever- more or less everyone is mugging for the cameras as if their lives depended upon it. Perhaps that’s the joke- the relatively huge number of continuity errors I spotted would suggest so- but if so, it wasn’t quite clever enough to pull it off.
Burton’s regular lead Johnny Depp is as irritating as fuck in this, all hyperactive head-shaking and Porky Pig speech patterns, I usually like his hammy style but in this (as in last year’s bloody dreadful Sweeney Todd) he was proper tat. In addition Bill Murray- by 1994 almost completely morphed into the ‘Buster Keaton without the stunts’ that he is today- is miles away from his best form. Add to that a script that gets repetitive and fails to intrigue at all and you’re looking at a proper flop. A shame because the film could have been really good with just a little more care and attention.
What saves the film is the career-best performance of Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi. He is worth the admission price alone and for that I’m thinking 4/10.
December 30, 2008
I remember the hype, I remember the bad press, I remember loads about ‘Howard the Duck’ but I’d forgotten that I’ve never seen the Razzie-nominated Worst Film of the Decade. So, let’s catch up on it I thought.
First impressions (and I’m talking VERY first impressions here, like thirty seconds or so in) were that the noir-y feel of the title sequence and some inventive sight gags might mean that this could indeed be a forgotten treat. However, at twelve minutes in I first checked how long the film had left to run. I was bored. Most of the actors are on autopilot, especially Jeffrey Jones who can be a cracking comedy actor when he tries, but Tim Robbins is abysmally hammy and gives no hint of the comedic subtleties that he would later prove capable of.
This is a bloody shambles. An absolute shambles. I seem to recall that part of the problem this film had was the high expectations that the huge budget generated. Huge budget? If I’d spent a grand financing this I’d have wanted to know who it was being aimed at because it’s too sleazy for kids and too juvenile for adults. And that’s the problem, there’s no control over the movie. It seems like everyone was having such a good time inventing duck gags, hiding clever references, punning and generally being smart-arses that they forgot that they were supposed to be entertaining the audience and not themselves. Anyway, back to the budget- where was it spent? I seem to remember that Howard the Duck cost more than the original Star Wars trilogy combined. The duck suit can’t have come cheap and there a couple of decently-sized sets but that won’t account for it all. Just what were the crew snacking on when they came up with this shite?
For the gags that I enjoyed before they proved wearisome, I give it 2/10. It got lucky.