Willard Huyck

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Howard The Duck Review


Bad
While fans and naysayers constantly complain about what he's done to a certain galaxy far, far away, few remember another beloved franchise that George Lucas adopted and then left for dead. In 1986, the writer/director/producer was riding high on the success of his Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. Looking for new material to milk, he came across the beloved Marvel Comic character Howard the Duck. Hiring his buddies from American Graffiti, Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, Lucas hoped that he could jumpstart a new series starring the angry, angst-ridden anthropomorphized mallard. What he got instead was one of the worst big screen bungles ever -- and it's still quite bad some 22 years later.

When an experiment in laser beam research goes awry, a talking duck named Howard is whisked away from his home planet and down to Earth. Arriving in Cleveland, Ohio, he meets up with wannabe rock star Beverly Switzler (Lea Thompson), and the two form a fragile friendship. Howard wants to get back home, and his gal pal sets up a meeting with local scientist Phil Blumburtt (Tim Robbins). He in turn contacts Dr. Walter Jenning (Jeffrey Jones) who's in charge of the laser project. As Howard tries to adjust to his new surroundings, there's a bigger problem looming. Seems our avian hero is not the only "alien" contacted by the laser. The evil Dark Overlord of the Universe has been looking for a conduit for taking over the galaxy -- and the beam might just be the answer.

Continue reading: Howard The Duck Review

Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom Review


Very Good
The second entry in the Indiana Jones series is definitively the "darkest" and worst (George Lucas notes in the DVD supplement material that he was in a bad mood due to his divorce proceedings). But like a bad Star Wars movie (yeah, I'm probably alone in this), Temple of Doom is still plenty of fun and stands up to repeat viewings.

Taking place a year before Raiders of the Lost Ark, Doom is the first movie chronologically in the trilogy. That means no Nazis, and unfortunately that means the stakes are at an all-time low. Indy isn't out to save the world this time; he's just saving a small Indian village... and his own ass, of course. There's also no Jewish/Christian mythology to deal with, which makes for an interesting change of pace but lowers the stakes and the intrigue considerably. Instead we have some magic rocks, some enslaved and starving kids, and an ancient cult quietly sacrificing people in an underground pool of lava. Hell, if Indy hadn't stumbled upon the scene, no one would have ever been the wiser.

Continue reading: Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom Review

American Graffiti Review


Excellent
The Star Wars prequels have tarnished his rep a little, but give him his due --- George Lucas once understood the possibilities and limitations of film like few others. Lucas' second feature film, American Graffiti, was a self-assured gem that established him as a major director (though a lot of studios still didn't want to bankroll Star Wars, proving that studio execs weren't any smarter in the seventies than they are now).

A cinematic collection of slightly exaggerated memories from Lucas' senior year in high school (1962), Graffiti was well-timed; it caught a wave of fifties nostalgia that would crest with Happy Days, Grease, etc. While the iconoclasm of the sixties and seventies would continue to take youth culture in a very different direction, Graffiti helped spark a cultural backlash (or at least a flashback) after the free-love/acid-rock/anti-war era.

Continue reading: American Graffiti Review

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Willard Huyck Movies

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Movie Review

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Movie Review

The second entry in the Indiana Jones series is definitively the "darkest" and worst (George...

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