I recently realized I have never seen any of the Back to the Future movies! It hit me all at once while I was scrolling through Netflix over the weekend looking for something to watch and, BAM! Netflix just so happened to recommend Back to the Future: Part II. Why it decided on Back to the Future: Part II and not the 1st movie nor the 3rd film is anybody’s guess. I did put a search for it and the entire trilogy of movies was on Netflix so I can’t really understand why it would suggest the 2nd movie without telling me the 1st was there as well.
Anyway, I am incredibly familiar with the Back to the Future. I know all about the Delorean, the hoverboard, flying cars and all that from the tons of parodies television shows like Family Guy has made over the years. However, it’s just weird how I never actually watched the movies they were based off. I decided to rectify the situation and hunkered down to watch all the films.
I was not disappointed. I can definitely see why Back to the Future is considered to be a timeless classic and why, even though the films were released around 20 to 30 years ago, they still work well today. I would even say the Back to the Future Trilogy films are almost perfect. Almost.
Now, don’t let the word “almost” faze you. I’m saying the Back to the Future films are all incredibly good and are on a whole different level than a lot of other movies. I loved all of them and the series stands head and shoulders above a lot of other successful movie franchises. I’m just saying there are still a few niggling things which keeps me from saying they’re perfect.
I guess it would be only appropriate to start talking about the things I positively loved about the Back to the Future movies as a whole since there are soooooo many reasons why the films are all so good. The thing that stands out to me are the main characters, Marty McFly and Doc Brown. They’re both played excellently by Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. The chemistry between the two is just phenomenal and I totally bought the ludicrous proposal that a teenage skater boy would be best buds with a eccentric mad scientist. Wouldn’t happen in real life but, in Back to the Future, I believed it was possible with these two characters.
I also have to give a ton of kudos to the special effects team and props to the prop department for doing some crazy and imaginative world building in all the films. Having to construct a full-sized set wherein it was possible to drive cars all around must have been a monumental task in itself and then having to redress the sets to make them look like they belong in 1955, 1985 and 2015 must’ve added to the pressure. Looking at the resulting product, though, I say they all did an incredibly good job for the most part.
I especially love all the work they did in the future set and props as seen in Back to the Future: Part II. There’s a certain level of goofiness with their then predictions of what we’ll have in 2015. Calling them “predictions” seems off, though, because I don’t think that was the intention. It’s just more of a generic notion of what we all want to see in the future to make it feel like the future. We all want flying cars, hoverboards, machines that control the weather with exact precision and the like. It’s simply nice to dream about them even though, realistically, technological innovation never really seems to move as fast as we want them to be. It’s more of a visual gag and not really what the filmmakers expected to see in the future.
I also fell in love the Delorean, the vehicle used by Doc Brown to get to the necessary 88 miles per hour to initiate time travel. You can sort of say it’s the 3rd real star in the films besides Marty McFly and Doc Brown! I’ve never heard of the car before and, for some time, I actually thought it was a Toyota Trueno AE86 from Intial D but painted all silver and chromed out. I didn’t know there was a car like that! Looking at the Delorean with Back to the Future in mind, I can see why. After all, to quote Doc Brown, if you’re going to build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?
Tying all of these together are some of the tightest stories involving time travel and a super entertaining script. Writing a story about time travel always seems like a messy business as there’s always going to be someone who’ll point out the flaw with the entire cause and effect scenarios and how altering the past will have major changes in the present. All of the Back to the Future films somehow manages to skirt all of the problems because of how laser focused the stories are on both Marty McFly and Doc Brown. It’s mostly them making or trying to undo the changes so you never really think about how the smallest changes they make should affect the world outside Hill Valley, the town where all the films take place. It’s all explained with a lot of vim and vigor and, even when the explanations shouldn’t make sense, it somehow does or you learn to forgive any possible continuity errors the make because it’s just so darned entertaining!
I already mentioned how Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd do a phenomenal job acting with each other but I also to mention how much fun it must have been for Michael J. Fox to play, not only Marty McFly and his 1985 and 2015 versions but also his son and (rather nightmarish looking) daughter! I also have to commend the other actors as everyone here is just perfect for their role. Thomas F. Wilson is great as Biff Tannen (old, young, present and apocalypse timeline version), Griff Tannen from the 2015 time period and Mad Dog Tannen in 1885. Lea Thompson is also great as Lorraine in all her time periods. I also love the guy who played Principal Strickland. I kind of feel bad for the first actress who played Marty McFly’s girlfriend because she had to be recast altogether but the filmmakers did a great job reshooting the scene for continuity’s sake. I only noticed she looked different because I watched Part I and Part II back-to-back!
I also have to comment on the closing action scenes as they’re come of as very tense. There’s a lot of weight to them and, most of the time, it usually involves a convoluted setpiece but a marvelously choreographed setpiece. Adding to that is the incredible soundtrack and main theme song which enhances the feeling of tension when appropriate as well as the joyous fanfare of success.
Since it is a trilogy, I do have to pick a favorite, right? Hands-down, my favorite would have to be Part II. I think it’s the best of all the Back to the Future films because it’s the most creative one and the most bombastic film of them all. I love all the futuristic stuff and how outlandish things are. I also was so engrossed with their trip back to 1955 and how they showed scenes from the first film but from a different perspective. That’s some creative writing and they manage to film these scene so seamlessly into the narrative. My least favorite is Part III but only because it had the tough act of following Part II. Part III all takes place in the same time period of 1885, which is cool if you like Westerns but not so fun if you’re not into them like me.
Now that I’ve gushed approvingly over the Back to the Future movies, let me get to why I think it reaches near perfection. There are some niggling flaws in all three movies that, while they don’t hurt the overall impact, are still there. Some of the issues I have are the personality quirks they added in the newer films. For example, I don’t get why Marty, in the later films, becomes so agitated when he’s called a chicken. It never really seemed to be an issue in the first movie but became his downfall in the subsequent entries. That scene where Doc Brown gets drunk from one shot of whiskey also rubbed me the wrong way because we never really got a scene where Doc had a problem with alcohol but, apparently, it’s so severe that one swig will knock him out cold in an instant. It’s just weird to add these character flaws they weren’t there before.
I also didn’t like what they did with Biff in the alternate dystopian timeline. I get he was a bully and a creep. Maybe he would beat up people or something like that. I never expected him to be an outright murderer, though! That’s what he was and maybe that’s because he became so corrupted by the power he gained through the years. It just felt weird how a bumbling bully could transform into a cold-hearted killer. Then again, he did try to force himself on Lorraine as a teenager, so maybe it’s not a total stretch.
These are little blips of blunders I just feel the films made but it doesn’t take away how wonderful all the Back to the Future film are. The Back to the Future films are classics and I would be so upset if they even try to make a remake of any of them. Even making a sequel seems like out of the questions with Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd being so old by now, a riproaring time jumping adventure seems like out of the questions for them. I’d rather close out the trilogy on the positive and uplifting note it left on, with Doc Brown stating our futures are what we make of it.
That future better be one without a remake of the Back to the Future trilogy!
Have you seen the Back to the Future films? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments section below!