Back to the Future Part III

Title: Back to the Future Part III

Director/Stars: Michael J. Fox (Actor), Christopher Lloyd (Actor), Robert Zemeckis(Director)

Genre: Time Travel Comedy

Year: 1990

Watched: March 31, 2011

Summary: Ug. What happened?


The end of part II leaves us with this sweet little setup. And then Back to the Future Part III just craps all over it.

Really this is barely a time travel movie. Basically Marty just pops back to 1885 to save Doc from being shot by Biff’s great-grandfather (again played by the same actor). The DeLorean has run out of gas… in 1885, so they have to figure out how to get it up to 88 miles an hour. Answer locomotive. This is a reverse of, but nearly the same, as the gimmick from the first movie with having to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of power via lightning bolt. Oh, and Doc falls in love.

What follows is a pretty silly, downright camp, little western pastiche. And that’s about it.

As I said, there isn’t much of the time travel and paradox fun we had in the first two films. But there is more rehash of the same jokes. Michael J Fox plays another McFly family member. Although one has to wonder why his great-grandmother still looks like Lea Thompson when she married into the family in the 50s! And the Fox genes must be dominant over the Glover ones. Oh we also get the “Biff eats manure” joke again. There’s also Doc’s little romance. I know it’s supposed to be sweet, but it really wasn’t doing it for me. Nothing really did, sorry.

This is only the second time I’ve seen the film (compared to like 15 times for part I and 5+ for part II). I remember being massively disappointed in the theater in 1990 (maybe even on opening night). I don’t feel any differently 21 years later.

I hope they don’t do some awful part IV that’s on par with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Check out the Back to the Future review Part I here.

Or my review of part II here.

Back to the Future

Title: Back to the Future

Director/Stars: Michael J. Fox (Actor), Adrian Paul (Actor), Christopher Lloyd (Actor), Robert Zemeckis (Director)

Genre: Time Travel Comedy

Year: 1985

Watched: March 29, 2011

Summary: Still a jewel box of a script.


Because my second novel is about time travel, I’ve been trying to read and watch (or re-watch) as many time travel books and films as I can (not that I haven’t previously mined the genre). Although I’ve probably seen BTTF 15 times, it’s been a  few years, more than 10 for sure.

I bought the new blu-ray Anniversary Trilogy too. This is a NICE restoration. The film looks as good as it did when I saw it right after getting back from summer camp in 1985, maybe better. And this was a slick slick film at the time. Really, other than a bit of noticeable rotoscoping, it could be a 2011 film.

Except it’s a lot better. The script and the editing make sense!

Because this is a few years before Top Gun would precipitate the precipitous marketing-driven decline of filmmaking, BTTF is simultaneously incredibly commercial and incredibly good. This script, by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, is tight tight tight. I can only imagine how many passes it underwent because there is not one line out of place. You all know the story, but if you watch it again pay attention to how in the first 5 minutes everything you need to know is setup. Marty’s parents met in 1955 when Grandpa hit George McFly was his car (“We never did understand what he was doing on that road anyway.” Lorraine says). They go to the “Enchantment under the Sea Dance.” That same year Doc Brown got the idea for the time machine. Libyans have stolen some plutonium, it’s under Doc’s bed. In the next 5 minutes Doc teaches us everything we need to know about the time machine. Bang bang, all the ducks are lined up.

Then all this setup pays off over the next hour and a half. Every line. When we see that George McFly is in the road because he was a peeping tom and falls out of the tree, it’s oh so much funnier knowing that this is how he met his wife. And knowing that, when Marty screws up that meeting… changes are set in motion. Changes he has to fix. The parallelism between the present (1985) and past (1955) are contrived and slapstick but a joy to watch. We here about Uncle Joey in jail in the present, we get the “get used to that view” wisecrack about baby Joey behind the crib bars. We’re used to it now, we’ve seen it a lot of times, but this is a clever clever script.

And the casting couldn’t be better. For this kind of lovable goofball, Michael J. Fox is deservedly beloved. Christopher Lloyd steals the show with his over the top Doc (“Thank God I’ve still got my hair!”). Lea Thompson is a babe as Marty’s mom. Great writing great acting, what more could we want? And we have top notch production, music, and effects too. None of it looks dated on blu-ray.

Very interesting now, 25 years later, realizing that the 1985 of the story is almost as far back in time now as the 1955 was then. And 1955, that’s 56 years ago! Wow. So in a way, that adds an extra time travel jump to the whole thing. Which gets even more amusing when we pick up again with Back to the Future II and it’s 2015 setting!

LOL Where are the hoverboards?

For my review of part II, click here.

For more 80s reviews of mine, check out About Last Night, Better Off Dead, or The Sure Thing.