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THE CROW (1994) (***1/2)

Before this film Brandon Lee was being cast as his father Bruce Lee or was given parts in third rate Steven Seagal rejects. This iconic role would have made him a star, if it hadn't killed him first. Shot down on the set in a reckless tragedy. Before comics were a go-to property in Hollywood, James O'Barr's dark comic was made into one of the best comic adaptations in screen history and, because it was released after his death, allowed Lee to return from the dead just as his character does.

On Halloween eve, a gang murders Eric Draven (Lee) and his fiancée Shelley (Sofia Shinas). But as the legend goes, if a soul is not at rest, a crow can bring the person back to settle his unfinished business. Eric gets this chance to comeback from the dead to seek revenge. As Eric picks off his murderers one by one, the gang leader Top Dollar (Michael Wincott, ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES) wants to know who this avenging angel really is. Helping Eric along the way is his teenage friend Sarah (Rochelle Davis) and Sergeant Albrecht (Ernie Hudson, GHOSTBUSTERS), who has been working the rough part of town for years and has seen a great deal of ugliness.



Whenever Nik and I travel schools to do our workshops, it’s always interesting to see how each school has set up its curriculum. Recently, we had the pleasure of getting acquainted with the workings of the animation program at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth in Bournemouth, England. I was already familiar with the high quality of the students’ work from festivals such as Annecy and by viewing the 2007 Graduation reel, and was very pleased to receive an invitation to visit the Animation Production Department from Professor Peter Parr and his charming and talented wife Astor. This gave me a chance to find out how their BA (Hons) Animation Program was structured.


EAST OF EDEN (1955) (****)

James Dean is best known for his role in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, but his breakout performance was in Elia Kazan's adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel, EAST OF EDEN. He received his first of two posthumous Oscar nominations for his performance as the tormented young man Cal Trask. This searing family drama captures the complexity of the child/parent relationship.

Cal wants to know why he's been bad all his life. At the start of the film, he follows a madam named Kate (Jo Van Fleet, THE ROSE TATTOO) to just look at her. Turns out, the woman is the mother that Cal was told had died. Cal feels like an outcast in his family, never measuring up to his holier-than-thou father Adam (Raymond Massey, ARSENIC AND OLD LACE) and his straight-laced, pacifist brother Aron (Richard Davalos, COOL HAND LUKE). Cal acts out to gain any kind of attention from his father. His behavior amuses his brother, but scares his brother's girl Abra (Julie Harris, THE HAUNTING). After his mother rejects him, Cal becomes determined to make good and prove himself to Adam.


PROKOFIEV'S PETER AND THE WOLF (2007) (****) (Oscar Nominee)

This modern adaptation of Sergei Prokofiev's musical created using details puppets captures the perfect tone for the famed work, mixing heart with darkness. This tale has been done in animation before, but it has always been softened for the smaller tykes in the audience. Director Suzie Templeton respectfully keeps true to the original, making the difficult life lessons that the title character learns all the more complex and powerful.

Peter is a sad young man, who lives in a makeshift fortress on the outskirts of a rundown city in Russia. His paranoid grandfather has them walled off from the forest, forbidding the boy from playing near the frozen lake behind their home. Peter's only friend is a goose, and during a trip to town, he is bullied by a duo of hunters. Upon his return home, Peter encounters a crow that has a bum wing and wants to use the boy's balloon to get a little lift. This leads to Peter and the goose making it to the other side of the fence and getting a chance to have some fun. However, a hungry wolf has other plans for Peter and his feathered friends.


MY LOVE (2007) (****) (Oscar Nominee)

Aleksandr Petrov previously won the Oscar for his adaptation of Hemingway's THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. Now he uses Ivan Shmelyov's story A LOVE STORY to create his latest short epic. For animation fans, they will already now the beauty of Petrov's work, which is like a 19th-century Impressionist painting come to life. His technique is to paint on glass, shoot the painting and then altering the paint to form the next frame. Each exquisite frame is a work of gorgeous art and it is destroyed to move onto the next frame. I spent the first 13 of the 26 minutes of this film simply riveted to its unparalleled beauty.

Set in Moscow in the 1890s, the story follows the wealthy 16-year-old Anton as he becomes sexually aware. He has a crush on his house's servant girl Pasha, who loves the young man too. Then one day, Anton meets a mysterious older woman, named Seraphina, who wears blue-tinted spectacles. Though his attentions have been averted, he is still jealous when Pasha reveals that she has been arranged to marry the local footman. The intensity of Anton's passion for the two women is echoed in the dramas of the town and later his fever-infested dreams.


I MET THE WALRUS (2007) (***1/2) (Oscar Nominee)

In 1969, then 14-year-old Beatle fan Jerry Levitan snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto and convinced the rock icon to do interview with him. Thirty-eight years later Levitan enlists director Josh Raskin to transform that reel-to-reel interview into a visual poem, using various animation techniques to bring the words of peace to life.

Throughout the film, Lennon rifts on various topics especially the need to bring about world change through peaceful means. With his endless wit, Lennon questions rebels that destroy the government when all they want is to be in power themselves. Why blow up buildings when they might be useful to have when you're the Establishment? The imagery slyly mirrors and comments on the spoken words. Images flow and blend effortlessly, creating a visual dream. As Lennon says, "Piss for peace, smile for peace, go to school for peace, don't go to school for peace" then images of a dog peeing to a smile to a school to a boot smashing to school flip by like cue cards. The images pops up so quickly it feels like visual improv, working off the cues of the three-decade-old recording.


EVEN PIGEONS GO TO HEAVEN (2007) (***1/2) (Oscar Nominee)

The French visual effects firm BUF created this devilish CG short, which proves that one can say a lot in a short period of time. A priest gets a call to intercede into the life of a miserly farmer, who has been saving his money all his life, and may be in danger from a shadowy figure racing toward the man's cottage on a motorcycle. Like a door-to-door salesman, the priest offers the man an offer he should not refuse. The super-deluxe machine the priest is offering will give the old man a guaranteed trip to the pearly gates. Or will it?

This short takes its clever premise and delivers in a sly, subversive way to poke fun at the church, as well as life and death. The CG animation has a warm, grainy, rustic feel, which is contrary to the bright, slick CG that's typical of feature animation in the U.S. Director Samuel Tourneux wrote the script along with Karine Binaux and Olivier Gilvert, crafting a story with tight plotting and good timing. Even though a good part of the film takes place in the old man's home as the priest pitches the old man, the film still retains the breakneck energy that the action sequences have. Take note to the pacing of the priest versus that of the old man and think about how it matches their personalities and motives perfectly. This black comedy doesn't say anything new about its themes, but in the way it does it, it puts the themes into a new and poignant light.


MADAME TUTLI-PUTLI (2007) (***1/2) (Oscar Nominee)

Every year the new animated shorts from the NFB are always a reason to celebrate. It is a rare year when a film from Canada's National Film Board isn't in the running for the Oscar. As their work has done time and time again, MADAME TUTLI-PUTLI continues the organization's tradition of innovation. This stop-motion short is an astonishing visual treat. Filmmakers Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowsk had real human eyes combined with their detailed puppets, in a process created and painstakingly carried out by artist Jason Walker, creating an eerie and evocative style that is totally original and mind-boggling.

Madame Tutli-Putli, with all her Earthly possessions in tow, boards a night train where she encounters a host of strange individuals, including a menacing Chinese boy, two intense men playing chess in the overhead baggage bin, and a lecherous pro tennis player. During the trip, strange trench-coat-clad men enter the train and the young woman's trip turns into a Hitchcockian nightmare.


PERSONA (1966) (****)

Life and art intersect and blend and overlap and intrude in on each other in Ingmar Bergman's challenging masterpiece, PERSONA. This is film as art. Like all artforms, there are pieces that are more accessible than others. It takes a fuller grasp of the artform and sometimes the artist to understand the complete scope of their work. A novice, or even causal, reader doesn't start with Proust, they will start with easier classics from the likes of Twain. The same can be said about film. CITIZEN KANE's accepted place as "the best movie ever made" has as much to do with its accessibility as it does its innovation and quality. From its experimental opening to its elusive ending, this film is what it is on the surface and it's much more at the same time.


QUINCEAÑERA (2006) (***1/2)

Set in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles, this touching coming of age story deals with the bridging of the sexual threshold. Centering on the quinceañera, or the coming out party for girls in the Latino community, the story honestly portrays the developing sexual curiosity that teens deal with. Though this film is set in a poorer section of the city, the directing/writing team of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland break down assumptions about their characters, painting an original tale that does not wallow in gang or ghetto clichés.

Magdalena (Emily Rios, upcoming VICIOUS CIRCLE) is approaching her fifteenth birthday and what she really wants for her quinceanera is a Hummer limo. Her father Ernesto (Jesus Castanos), a storefront minister/ security guard, thinks the idea is blasphemous. They are not a wealthy family, so Magdalena has to wear an altered hand-me-down dress from her cousin. However, when Magdalena can't fit in the dress only a few weeks after she was measured, her mother Maria (Araceli Guzman-Rico) suspects that her daughter is pregnant, which turns out to be true. Magdalena's father is devastated, even more so when his daughter insists that she never slept with her boyfriend Herman (J.R. Cruz), who is supportive about the pregnancy, but is afraid to tell his mother about. Magdalena is kicked out her house and goes to live with her great-granduncle Tio Tomas Alvarez (Chalo Gonzalez, BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA), who has already taken in her ostracized cousin Carlos (Jesse Garcia, THE COMEBACKS). The three form their own family, living in the guesthouse of a gay couple named Gary (David W. Ross from the boy band Bad Boys Inc.) and James (Jason L. Wood, TV's MARTHA BEHIND BARS).


THE NAMESAKE (2007) (***1/2)

Mira Nair, the director of KAMA SUTRA, MONSOON WEDDING and 2004's VANITY FAIR, forms Sooni Taraporevala's adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's novel into an engaging and emotionally resonant film about Indian immigrants to the U.S. and the divide that is formed between them and their American children. Blessed with a first-rate cast, the story slowly builds, creating a complexity, which stings of life, which rarely goes where we have planned it to go, but often, where we came from influences where we end up, usually in unexpected ways.

As a young man, Ashoke Ganguli (Irfan Khan, A MIGHTY HEART) was content traveling via books. But after a near-fatal accident, he takes the chance for a new life in America. Later, he returns to India where he is arranged to marry Ashima (Tabu, I HAVE FOUND IT), who is quickly gripped by the loneliness of being a stranger living in a strange land. When she wants to move back to India, Ashoke reminds her of the opportunities lost to their children if they return to their homeland.


This Weekend’s Film Festival Celebrates Five Underrated Sports Movies

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 12:01am

With the underrated sports film, PERSONAL BEST, arriving on DVD for the first time last week, it seemed like a good time to look at other overlooked sports films. There are many best sports movie lists to be found online and most have HOOISERS, BULL DURHAM, FIELD OF DREAMS, HOOP DREAMS, RUDY, BRIAN'S SONG, JERRY MAGUIRE or RAGING BULL near the top. Three boxing films have won Oscars — ROCKY and MILLION DOLLAR BABY for best picture and WHEN WE WERE KINGS for best documentary. CHARIOTS OF FIRE, another sports movie, won the best picture Oscar as well. MURDERBALL, about hardcore wheelchair rugby players, was nominated a few years ago. All these films are very good to great films, but the five films in this week's lineup deserve to be in their ranks. The closing film is actually my favorite sports movie.


OUR HOSPITALITY (1923) (****)

Taking inspiration from the infamous family feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys, Buster Keaton creates a hilarious Romeo & Juliet scenario filled with his brilliant character-based gags. With so many so called comedies throwing in slapstick for cheap laughs, it's so refreshing to watch the work of Keaton who knew that falling down wasn't the main component to making a gag funny. It's the context.

In a moody dramatic prologue, the film sets up the blood feud that Keaton's 21-year-old Willie McKay will find himself stuck in the middle of. Having been raised far away from his Appalachian homestead, he knows very little of the death wish out on him. After receiving notice that he has inherited his father's estate, he hops on a train to visit his birthplace. On the trip, he meets and falls for the pretty Virginia, who turns out to be the daughter of the McKay's archenemy Joseph Canfield (Joe Roberts, COPS). However, due to the code of Southern hospitality, Joseph and his sons Clayton (Ralph Bushman, WAY OUT WEST) and Lee (Craig Ward) are bound to give Willie respect as long as he is a guest in their home. Willie finds various ways to extend his stay.


The 14th Bradford Animation Festival: English Hospitality and an Excellent Festival Are a Perfect Combination

For much of the audience the highlight was Nick Park in Conversation with Paul Wells. Paul, who is Director of the Animation Academy at Loughborough University and has published widely in the field of animation, was able to put the very shy Park at ease. They sat on stage chatting as if they were in a living room, even though the large hall was packed with fans. Nick talked about lots of things including his interest in animation that started when he was 13, making films in his parents’ attic, the birth of Wallace and Grommet and his recent work, Creature Discomforts, created to help the public see disability in a new light. The program ended with a lengthy question and answer session. He comes across as a very genuine and humorous person. Since Nick is the superstar of British animation, the festival actually had to lock the theatre doors until they could get him out to his car. Otherwise he would have been totally mobbed.



Okay, I'll get it out of the way right from the start — this Oscar winner is not better than fellow nominees SAVING PRIVATE RYAN or even LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. However, this should not taint how good the film really is. A greatly inspired romantic comedy that ranks up with many of the best of all time, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE is filled with well-drafted characters and an abundance of witty dialogue. In recent years the romantic comedy has sunk to the bottom of the genre gene pool and this film provides hope that we are not de-evolving into a lesser organism.

Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes, ENEMY AT THE GATES) has lost his muse. Rose Theatre owner Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush, SHINE) is in such debt that lender Hugh Fennyman (Tom Wilkinson, IN THE BEDROOM) has the impresario's feet put over hot coals. He demands a crowd-pleasing comedy from Shakespeare — one with a catchy title like "Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter." And it has to have a bit with a dog in it — people love funny bits with dogs. Mr. Henslowe's financial woes are not enough to stir the creative juices in the young playwright, however, the beautiful lady Viola De Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow, GREAT EXPECTATIONS), the daughter of a wealthy man who has virtually sold her to the financially strapped tobacco baron Lord Wessex (Colin Firth, BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY), is just the inspiration he is looking for. Uninterested in her fiancée, Viola poses as a boy named Thomas Kent so that she can audition for Shakespeare's new play. The playwright is so taken by Kent's honest performance that he demands "him" to return to the theater and star as Romeo.


TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991) (***1/2)

Seven years after launching his feature-directing career with THE TERMINATOR, James Cameron revisited the franchise he created, building on the visual effects landmark that he set in his preceding film THE ABYSS. With Arnold Schwarzenegger recast as the protector and not the killer of the future's last hope, John Connor, the film contains a heart and message that the first film lacked. Few sequels are an improvement on the original; here is one of those rare cases.

John (Edward Furlong, PECKER) is now a tween living in foster care. His street smarts come from his mother — Sarah (Linda Hamilton, MR. DESTINY) — who after the events of the first film tries to convince the world of its impending destruction and is institutionalized for her efforts. The future robotic rulers send an upgraded assassin, the T-1000 (Robert Patrick, WALK THE LINE) to kill John. Making this new Terminator all the more scary is that it's made of liquid metal that reforms around wounds. The future John reprograms the original Terminator (Schwarzenegger) to come back and protect his younger self. Along the way, John and the Terminator free Sarah, who sets out to end the mechanized threat by murdering Miles Dyson (Joe Morton, THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET), the creator of SkyNet, the computer system that eventually destroys mankind.



Okay, so I'm a bit late with the New year greetings. We spent Christmas and New Years in New York City with our son and his wife.

It was the first time we had two weeks to explore NYC - most of the time it was quick trips to recruit or use post-production facilities. As the saying goes, "I love New York". We had a wonderful two weeks exploring Queens and Manhattan. No better place to be in the U.S. during the holidays than a large city.

This first sketch is an early compilation of our New York activities.

We stayed in Astoria, Queens and it was an easy 10 minute subway ride into "Midtown". It reminded us so much of Europe- we were smack, dab in the middle of the Greek section - it was aterrific holiday.


This Weekend’s Film Festival Celebrates The Five Best Westerns of the 21st Century (That I've Seen)

Welcome to the first This Weekend's Film Festival of 2008. With the remake of 3:10 TO YUMA hitting DVD today, I felt it was a great time to look at the best Westerns of the last few years. Now I can't say that I've seen every Western made since 2001 (for instance, I still need to see THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD), but these five films are all great Westerns that I feel more people need to see. The genre is often called dead, but with the solid performance of 3:10 TO YUMA, there is hope for more to be made. There is no other genre that is more archetypically American, so it needs to survive, and as fans of cinema in general, I feel we need to help promote underrated Westerns, so they can reach a wider audience.


THE CLAIM (2001) (***1/2)

This stark Western reminded me of the great Robert Altman film MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER. Set during winter in a gold rush Sierra Nevada town, the citizens are in limbo until the thaw of spring arrives. This idle time in the town of Kingdom Come is the perfect breeding ground for introspection, regret and trouble. Three strangers will arrive that will shake the town's owner Daniel Dillon to his core, because his soul is ripe for regret and self-destruction.

Dillon (Peter Mullan, MY NAME IS JOE) is living with a dark secret; a regret so strong that it taints everything he has done since. He is strong willed and often brutal, but there is a twisted humanity to his actions sometimes. For he'll have a man savagely horsewhipped, just so the town won't lynch him. As most everyone in town does, he visits the brothel, where he has taken claim to the madam Lucia (Milla Jovovich, THE FIFTH ELEMENT). Then arrive the strangers. Donald Dalglish (Wes Bentley, AMERICAN BEAUTY) is a surveyor for the railroad company. His decision on where to lay tracks will determine whether the town lives or dies. It's a great deal of power to have for a young ambitious man, which certainly does not sit well with the prideful Dillon. However, this attentions will soon focus on the two other strangers — Elena Burn (Nastassja Kinski, PARIS, TEXAS), a woman dying of TB, and her pretty blonde daughter Hope (Sarah Polley, THE SWEET HEREAFTER). They represent Dillon's past coming back to haunt him.


I AM LEGEND (2007) (***1/2)

I have not read the Richard Matheson novel or seen the previous film versions (THE LAST MAN ON EARTH or OMEGA MAN) of this story, therefore I cannot compare Francis Lawrence's new version with any of the other forms. Adapted by Mark Protosevich and Akiva Goldsman, this Will Smith vehicle is a refreshing genre film in a year of disappointing blockbusters. Filmed with patience and attention to character, this sci-fi horror tale has emotional resonance, as well as thrills.

Robert Neville (Will Smith, I, ROBOT) is a military scientist who seems to be the last man in New York City, or possibly Earth, after a genetically altered virus turns humans into vampire-like night dwellers. He hunts rogue wildlife around the empty streets of NYC by day and barricades himself in his house once the sun sets. His only friend is his dog Sam, who was given to him by his young daughter on the day the city was quarantined. He continues his research to develop a cure, while he sets up mannequins at the video store so he can try to hold onto a bit of the world he once knew. However, the isolation has begun to make him crack, and his paranoia will affect his actions along the way.


Rick's Top 25 Films of 2007 (As It Stands on January 1, 2008)

It was a year for old men and pregnant teens and rats that like fine cuisine. With the Demon Barber, there will be blood and Alexander Supertramp went into the wild on a flash flood. An Iranian girl dared to be a metal head, while brothers hoped they got away with murder before the devil knows their dead. There once was a guy and a girl who made beautiful music together and Edith Piaf sang through a life of stormy weather.

Making a definitive top ten or 25 list is a nearly impossible task. That's why I would never attempt a "best of all time" list. As the list stands, it's the top 25 films that were released in 2007, which I've seen so far. So the list works as a recommendation list. If there are five or 10 or 25 films from 2007 that I believe you need to see — these are those films in some kind of order.


THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2007) (****)

Paul Thomas Anderson has been quoted as saying that he was having a case of writer's block when devising his follow-up to PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE. Finding inspiration in Upton Sinclair's novel OIL!, Anderson has crafted THERE WILL BE BLOOD, a film in a style that departs a great deal from his other work like BOOGIE NIGHTS and MAGNOLIA. Equal parts epic historical drama and character portrait, this cynical study of the dark side of human nature tells a tale of ambition, religion and family ties, dripping in black gold and blood — the later both physically and metaphorically.

Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis, MY LEFT FOOT) has bled and sweat his way into a successful oil business. After one of his workers dies, he takes the man's son as his own. Even at a young age, H.W. Plainview (Dillon Freasier, film debut) is being groomed as Daniel's partner. One evening, a young man (Paul Dano, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE) comes to Daniel with a hot lead on property where oil is just bubbling to the surface. Untrustworthy by nature, Daniel heads out to the land where he meets the family of the young man, who calls himself Eli and makes it out like it’s the first time he has met Daniel. During a quail hunt, Daniel and H.W. confirm that this might just be their biggest strike. When Daniel goes to negotiate with the owner, Abel Sunday (David Willis, THE GOOD GERMAN), Eli makes sure the deal includes a good deal of money for his fledgling church.



Every time I review a Sidney Lumet film, I comment on how he isn't a household name and that his resume is one that any director would be envious of. At 83, he adds another film to his resume that any director would be envious of. If he were a twenty-something making his film debut with this crime drama, he would be hailed as the next big thing. The twisting script, written by Kelly Masterson, is innovative and Lumet brings a captivating style to the production that makes the film about its characters not its action.

Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman, CAPOTE) is an overweight, cocky businessman with a trophy wife named Gina (Marisa Tomei, MY COUSIN VINNY). He has a nasty drug habit and is stealing money from his company right as an audit is set to take place. His brother Hank (Ethan Hawke, TAPE) works at his firm in a much lower position. He is months behind on his child support payments for which his ex-wife Martha (Amy Ryan, GONE BABY GONE) berates him about any chance she gets. Andy devises a plan to rob their parents' jewelry store. But when Hank enlists busboy/crook named Bobby (Brain F. O'Byrne, MILLION DOLLAR BABY) to help in the crime, things go horribly wrong, spurring Andy and Hank's father Charles (Albert Finney, TOM JONES) to make it a personal mission to find out who shot his wife Nanette (Rosemary Harris, SPIDER-MAN).


CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR (2007) (****)

Charlie Wilson was a Congressman who was better known for womanizing and partying than his legislative accomplishments. Then, pushed by the sixth richest woman in Texas Joanne Herring, he found his calling. Through committees he helped raise the CIA's budget to arm the rebels in Afghanistan fighting the soviets from $5 million to $1 billion. He may not be the most ethical politician, but he was very well connected. Based on facts, Mike Nichols new comedy could also be called "Strange Bedfellows" for Wilson will have to unite Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, Christian and Muslims and Israel with various Islamic states to get his secret war off the ground.

Tom Hanks, a seemingly unlikely actor to play a Representative who gets wrapped up in a cocaine scandal, adds the right dose of charm to Wilson, making us believe that he might just be the best person in government to pull off this scheme. He teams with the hotheaded and blunt CIA agent Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman, OWNING MAHONEY), who is working on the Afghan problem with three other guys when they first start. While Wilson works on his war, his chief assistant Bonnie Bach (Amy Adams, JUNEBUG) leads a team of beautiful young assistants on fighting the Congressman's publicity war. Because the whole deal rests on so many strange bedfellows getting along, Wilson has to warn Joanne (Julia Roberts, ERIN BROCKOVICH) not to frame the fight as a holy war. But the well-connected Herring does know when religion helps answer prayers.


Well duck my dogs...

By Joe Strike | Friday, December 28, 2007 at 5:20pm

Word on the London Street is that “Howard the Duck” and “The Plague Dogs” are due for a UK DVD release:

It just so happens I was in London during its original release there in December 86. The movie's posters in the tube stations showed him from the back with only the tip of his bill visible, with the slogan "Howard, A new kind of hero." I guess they didn't want people figuring out they’d paid to see a duck movie until it was too late.