If 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.
To 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 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.
Then Marty gets involved with his parents who he must bring together or his entire existence is in question.
There is also the bully Biff who we meet in both 1985 and 1955.
Marty and Doc must also figure out a way to get him back to 1985 using the 1955 technology and a bolt of lightning!
There 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.
There 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+
In 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.
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.
They 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
Then 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.
Now 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.
To 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.
Even for a popcorn series the ending is too ridiculous to work for me but the final train sequence is entertaining.
At 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.