Back to the Future Trilogy Review

back to the future2If you didn’t know yesterday was Back to the Future Day! Basically in Back to the Future 2 when Marty and Doc go back in time they go to October 21, 2015.

1031852_1280x720To honor this occasion my local theater and the Salt Lake Film Society put on a Where’s My Hoverboard marathon event where we watched all 3 Back to the Future films.  On my regular blog I will post about the event itself but I thought I would post my reviews of the films here.

back to the future-1Back to the Future is what I think of as basically a perfect blockbuster film.  I am sure they exist (and I will doubt hear from some of them as that always happens) but in my personal life I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t like Back to the Future.  There are a lot of reasons why it works so well.

It is of course the story of Marty Mcfly and Doc Brown and his deloreon time machine.  Doc invents the time machine but then an accident causes Marty to get sent back to 1955.

back to the future7Then Marty gets involved with his parents who he must bring together or his entire existence is in question.

back to the future6There is also the bully Biff who we meet in both 1985 and 1955.

Biff-Back-to-the-Future-1Marty and Doc must also figure out a way to get him back to 1985 using the 1955 technology and a bolt of lightning!

marty-the-delorean-time-machine-and-a-bolt-of-lightning_zpsyyd4s0zlThere are a lot of reasons Back to the Future works so well.  Michael J Fox is charismatic as Marty with a likable rebelliousness to him.  The rest of the cast is also great with most of the action focusing on 5 people- Marty, Doc, Loraine (Marty’s mother played by Lea Thompson), George (Marty’s father played by Crispin Glover), and Biff (Thomas Wilson).

This works so well for a time traveling story because the ripple effect of the changes they make and have to fix are relatively small and contained.   It also helps you to really bond with the characters and feel invested when they succeed.

back to the future10There is also a great undercurrent of heart to the film.  Marty has come to see his parents as real people that aren’t so unlike himself.  There is even a bit of an oedipal complex with Marty seeing his mother as an attractive woman and vice versa.

The other key to making Back to the Future work is the writing and pacing.  There isn’t a wasted scene.  There isn’t a moment where I am bored or over-thinking the science of it.  It’s also very funny with an amazing script by director Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale.

The music is also helpful with an iconic score by Alan Silvestri and great song Power of Love by Huey Lewis and the News. Here’s some clips from the movie with the song.

Last night the entire theater was cheering throughout.  It’s the kind of movie you leave with a big smile and probably didn’t need sequels but we got them nonetheless.

Overall Grade- A+

back to future2-2In Back to the Future 2 we get most of our original cast back except for Crispin Glover as George McFly.  The producer and directing team are all back and it is an entertaining film but my least favorite of the 3.

In this sequel Marty goes to the future to try and help his son from going to prison. In 2015 he finds all kinds of new technology like flying cars, hoverboards and easy lace shoes.

back to the future5

Marty gets to see his future self, house, family and life and we learn that Marty has a temper particularly when people call him chicken (not sure why they added that personality trait but they did).

Unfortunately Marty has a scheme to buy a sports almanac so he can win on betting sports back in 1985.  Biff as an old man hears about this almanac and steals the time machine to go back to 1955 and give it to his young self.

Not aware of Biff’s plans they go back to 1985 but it is altered into a hellish place where Biff rules all as a Donald Trump like mogul.

back to future222They then have to go back to 1955 and stop Old Biff from giving the almanac and not run into themselves from the first movie.

This movie works mostly because of the fun technology we get to see and the vision for the future.  Also the likable cast and nods to the first movie are a lot of fun.

However, we just get too much of Biff.  There are 4 versions of him in this film, so instead of being joyful with Marty and Doc, it feels dark, angry and unpleasant at times.  That may work for a dystopian novel but for a fun popcorn flick it is too much of a downer.

The pacing is also not as tight and there are a lot more plotholes because we are dealing with 4 different time periods and a mogul who influences many people instead of just 2 people falling in love.

Still I don’t mind watching it and find it overall entertaining.

Overall Grade- C+

Back to the Future 3

back to the future3-3Then we get to the final in the series.  It’s kind of a silly entry but it is more joyful than the 2nd so I enjoyed it more.

In this film Doc Brown gets sent to 1885 west while Marty remains in 1955. Marty learns through a letter that Doc is living as a blacksmith and is perfectly happy.  Unfortunately Marty also learns at the library he is going to die in a weeks time, so Marty heads back to the Old West to save his friend.

back to future34Now the question becomes how do they get back to 1985 with 1885 technology and they meet MadDog Tannen the relative of Biff who doesn’t like either one of them and challenges Marty with the chicken nonsense from 2.

BufordTo everyone’s surprise Doc meets a school teacher played by Mary Steenburgen and they share an interst in Jules Verne and fall in love, creating a whole new level of problems.

There is a lot of silliness in Back to the Future 3.  This is in no way a gritty accurate Old West.  It is from a movie set if I’ve ever seen one full of just about every western cliche you could imagine.  However, it also uses those cliches for humor like Marty’s character being named Clint Eastwood.

back to future333Even for a popcorn series the ending is too ridiculous to work for me but the final train sequence is entertaining.

back to future33At least in 3 there is a spirit of fun back into the series and we get less of Biff (although I could have used even less). It’s mostly about these 2 friends, Marty and Doc, and how they help each other as strangers in the Old West.

Alan Silvestri’s score in this one incorporates some Western themes which I appreciated and I love the inclusion of ZZ Top and their song Doubleback.  It’s very catchy.

I also like the chemistry between Christopher Lloyd and Mary Steenburgen.  After the grimness of 2 it is nice to have a love story back at the forefront of the series.

Like I said it is a silly movie but I enjoy it and find it entertaining.

Overall Grade- B

Here is my review on my youtube channel.

30 thoughts on “Back to the Future Trilogy Review

  1. My family and I are big fans of Back to the Future! My personal favorite is probably the first one! The thing I dislike about them the most is how many times they say cuss words throughout the films! 3 doesn’t have a lot, but they still have a few! Overall, I love them and could watch them over and over again! They are very funny, and I always think it is super funny when Marty gets upset when someone calls him a chicken, lol! 🙂

    1. I’m so glad you enjoy them. I do also and had a blast watching them yesterday. I agree about the cussing. I wish they would use other words.

      1. If it makes you feel any better, I’m sure there are English teachers all over the country who have taught their children never to say cuss words for any reason. Most of them never even bother to explain why, of course. Some of them probably tell them it is wrong to say cuss words because it will make them sound uneducated, vulgar, or immature.

        I have decided, however, that if I ever become an English teacher, I will rectify that problem by going up in front of the class and start my lesson by writing “cuss word” on the blackboard and introducing the topic. I will then begin by asking if they are aware of what this word is. “This is a word you should not say, which many people do not like, myself included. And does anyone know why you should not use words like this?” W
        “Because it makes you sound like a fucking hillbilly. Please, for the love of God, NEVER use that word.”

      2. Ha! Sounds like a plan. There are sometimes when it makes sense for tone or characters and others when it feels unnecessary

      3. The Boondock Saints would probably be a great example in which the language is completely unnecessary. It is on the list of Words That Most Frequently Use The Word “F**K” and you can just tell they really wanted to make that list because every fucking sentence has the word fuck in it. And none of it feels natural as fuck, it just feels like some stupid fuck dropped the word into the fucking dialogue over and over again just so they could earn some kind of arbitrary street cred and make that fucking list. And holy fuck, is it annoying. Fuck it, who the fuck thinks it would be natural to fucking talk like that?

        And in the other three on the list that I’ve seen (The Departed, Reservoir Dogs, Big Lebowski), the language actually does feel perfectly natural. Why did it feel unnecessary in Back to the Future?

      4. I am sorry, did you find my comment offensive? It was meant to be lighthearted. I would have censored it all those times but I thought that would ruin the joke.

    2. My younger siblings haven’t watched Back to the Future and I think it is a crime. They need to watch it! Glad your family enjoys it.

      1. Really? Wow, it is a crime, haha! My parents watched it a lot growing up because they were around my age when it came out! My mom can basically quote all of the first one, so she knows it by heart! 🙂

      2. In fairness my parents don’t watch many movies at all but I still was surprised. They need to watch them.

  2. Sigh…the BTTF trilogy…where do I begin? They’re my favorite films of all times (no, I can’t and refuse to pick a favorite of the three)! Seeing them on the big screen yesterday (well, I didn’t stay for the third one since it would run late into the night) was just an incredible experience!

    The actors and characters are probably what make this film. It’s one of the few films where I actually notice the musical score and love it! It’s just…it’s just amazing!

    I do agree that these films do have some language problem (especially the first and second ones). But, I disagree with the Oedipal Complex point you made because I feel young Lorraine found Marty attractive and fell in love with him, not the other way round.

    Speaking of which, because of that aspect of the film as well as the cursing, what do you think is a good age to introduce kids to these films? I can’t remember when I saw these films, but I know I was probably younger than 13, but somehow don’t remember the language much from then. But now, I see the language and the mother/son love triangle thing to be somewhat risque for younger audiences, so not sure when to introduce this to kids.

    1. I’m so glad you made it and that you were able to figure out the car problems.
      I think there are a few points where Marty finds his Mom to be hot or attractive. He definitely notices her enhanced breasts in 2 for example. I didn’t mean that as a critcism but as an example the films deal with deeper issues and aren’t just pure fluff.
      It’s tough on the age but I remember watching it when I was 4th or 5th grade (I think that’s like 10). My parents just said ‘we don’t say those words’ and we got it. It’s such an entertaining film it seems worth it to me. 2 I might be more hesitant.

      I agree on the score. It is one of the best ever.

    2. I put Back to the Future with Goonies. Wish the cussing wasn’t there but I think the good outweighs the bad and I’d show them to my kids.

      1. Oh you should totally add it to your must see list. It’s really fun adventure but there is some cussing

  3. If I had to pick a favourite, I’d say the first film, but really I love the whole trilogy. I don’t understand the widespread dislike for the third one: it’s quite different from the other two in many ways, but I don’t consider it significantly lower in terms of quality.

    The order of my top 10 favourite movies is ever changing, but the Back To The Future trilogy is always there, usually in the top 5. It’s cleverly written, it has wonderful characters, it forms a diverse and cohesive story as a whole, and it’s just plain fun!

    1. I was also surprised to hear 3 is many people’s least favorite. I think it is silly but more in spirit of franchise than grim 2.

  4. Great write-up, but i can’t believe you rated Back to the Future II so poorly! Part II is absolutely my favorite of the three on every level, for the story, for the dialogue, for the complexities of it. And Part III – you know, I tried watching it again yesterday and I still think it’s nothing like as good as the first two. It’s just too gimmicky; it’s kind of all over the place and feels really unnecessary. But I guess we ultimately agree that the franchise overall is something special.
    I also think Thomas Wilson’s Biff gets overlooked when a lot of people talk about these films – he nailed that character perfectly, especially in the second film.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. I knew from your review that you like 2 the best. For the record I don’t consider a C+ a low grade in my grading system. But for me 2 loses points because it has more plotholes because it goes so much bigger both in the amount of time travel and amount of things being changed (one is just one couple trying to meet). Also I personally like the light fun feel of both 1 and 3 verses the more somber feel of 2. It gets a little exhausting after a while. That said, I still like 2 and find it entertaining middle of the saga. 3 is silly but I guess I like the series best when it focuses on a romance and keeps the people and time travel involved smaller.
      To me though none of the sequels measure up to the first which is so tight in its storytelling, characters and makes you want to cheer at the end.
      But yes we can agree the series overall is something special. Usually when I do these reviews I have one knucklehead who doesn’t like a film. So far nobody on my youtube channel or blog has said anything but praise for the series. That’s pretty remarkable. It’s so entertaining and I enjoy watching all 3.
      Wilson is good if a bit one note for me but I don’t know if that is really his fault. It’s not like we see a softer more contemplative side of Biff (or really need too).

  5. Like thousands if not millions of fans around the globe, I also synced my viewings of the Back to the Future trilogy to coincide with November 21st, specifically for all the future gadgets and whiz-bang effects used to portray the fictional 2015. I have to say it was pretty surreal watching this imagined future slowly fade into the past-tense as the rest of the day practically flew by.

    Despite that very entertaining first act, Part II also declines a bit in my eyes to be my least favourite out of the three. I used to like the dark approach it took as well as the various ways in which Marty and Doc avoid bumping into their past selves, but on repeat viewings it feels too mean spirited and I tend to get bored with the scenes taking place in 1955. I wished they had gone with the original plan, to showcase Biff’s early rule in 1965, and have Marty and Doc make up their plan as they went along. It’s still an entertaining film, but weighed down by the flaws I mentioned.

    Even though I find the pacing of Part III to be a bit slow in places, we get a lot more of Doc Brown who is my personal favourite character in the trilogy, a cool setting with the American West, and Mad Dog Tannen is way more entertaining as a villain. Part I is in my book a perfect classic, and the best film that Steven Spielberg produced but didn’t direct. It hits home on so many levels that it always leaves me in a good mood when I finish watching it.

    1. We are on the same page here! It’s funny so far havent met anyone who doesnt love one or more movies from this series. Even Harry Potter or something like that I know people not into it. So far everyone likes Back to the Future. It’s just so likable!

      I didnt know that about the alternate idea for Back to the Future 2 but it sounds more fun, which I would enjoy

    2. In fact I wonder if it is the most universally liked movie? Even Star Wars has more detractors I feel

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