Ossus Library Index Science Fiction Movie Index

BACK TO THE FUTURE, PART II

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (1989, Universal Pictures)
Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, and Thomas F. Wilson

Attempting to save Marty's family in the future, the time travelers inadvertently alter their own present.

 

 

3+ stars

December 12th, 2015 on DVD for the 7th time  
    I It is now 2015, just a few months after Marty was supposed to have visited it -and it doesn't look anything like what we are shown here! But it's just as fun, regardless. As mentioned below, my favorite parts are still the past, where we get to see the events from the first movie from a different perspective. It was fun to see my kids' reactions, too.  

 

3+ stars+

June 15th, 2008 on DVD for the 6th time  

 

3+ stars+

April 5th, 2003 on DVD for the 5th time  
    I still like this movie a lot, though it doesn't seem to have the magic that the first one did.

When this movie first came out, I loved it, to the point where I saw it three times in the theatre! It is the plot that I love more than anything else about this movie -specifically, going back to 1955 and seeing the first movie from a different perspective. In effect, we are seeing stuff that went on behind the scenes, which even Marty wasn't aware of, the first time he went back in time.

As with the first movie, Marty and Doc Brown are the best characters. Mostly, they react to certain events, and it seems to be Marty that does most of the work in trying to restore the timeline. Every time something is supposed to happen, Doc disappears, especially in the future; I wonder what he is doing all that time. For example, why wasn't he watching either Marty Jr., or Jennifer during the time when Marty is taking his son's place? Is that when he got Einstein out of the suspended animation kennel?

While the movie is not as tightly written as the first one, the authors do a great job of keeping everything straight. We get to see parts of Hill Valley in four separate time periods, now. Twice in 1985, albeit the first time is very brief, back in 1955 again, and then in 2015, which seems overly futuristic, since we're more than halfway there by now. We seem to have stalled in the technology department.

The future was actually the least impressive part of the movie, and I think that's attributable to Jennifer and Griff. Griff has way too many short circuits to be a reasonable character, though I suppose that's the only way the producers could make him so different from old and young Biff. Marty's encounter with Griff mirror's all of the other encounters through the timeline. I wonder if these two families have some sort of temporal relationship, because it happens again in Part III.

They have changed actresses for Jennifer in this movie, and even the wonderful Elizabeth Shue couldn't bring life into the character. In fact, she's downright bad at it. This makes the otherwise funny and telling scenes in the McFly house strenuous to watch. A lot of the dialog was embarrassing during those scenes, as well, though the rest of the cast, especially Lea Thompson, do a great job with what they have, showing us how easy things are in the future. I especially like the pre-programmed welcome for Marty -"lord of the manor", and so on. Ha!

The main reason for Marty getting into all of this trouble is cited as his fear of being called "chicken", which I'm not sure I like. It is retro-continuity, which was not visible in the slightest in the first movie. However, I suppose that can be explained away by the fact that he should be a different person now, because of the changes to his family. Still, it's used a little too often. Thankfully, Jennifer hears about the Rolls Royce incident, which will have an impact on the future.

The altered 1985, because of older Biff traveling back to give his younger self a sports almanac of the future, was a lot of fun to see, especially since so many people show up, like Strickland, but in subtly different places. It truly was a nightmare, very close to Hell. It just goes to show that money can truly buy the blind eye of the government...

Once again, there are many parallels to what has gone before, even with Marty trying to cross the street -this time in front of motorcycles and tanks! Waking up to his mother, this time with breast enhancements, is reminiscent of the last time he woke up in her company. Of course, Biff is just as nasty as ever, so we love it when Doc knocks him out by opening the car door on the roof.

As I mentioned, my favorite part of the movie is back in 1955, seeing Marty watch himself interact with the others. After watching the behind-the-scenes feature on the DVD, I realized that we never see George's face in this part, simply because the actor refused to do the role as they wanted. Even when he waves to Marty after kissing Loraine, we see him from the back -obviously another actor, when you know. It's something I had not noticed before.

I thought it was terrific to see the beautiful, stunning Loraine again, and in some new scenes, like the one with Biff after she buys her dress. We also see her in many of the scenes from the previous film, but once again, from different angles.

There were some subtle changes in body language from the first movie, some of which will affect Marty when the "ripple effect" reaches him. The one that is most noticeable is when Marty looks down at the sandbag-covered gang members as he exits the stage. Priceless confusion. The other doesn't belong to time-travel, but is a small revision in the ending to the first movie. When Doc says that Marty and Jennifer turn out okay in the future, his eye twitches, like he's lying, something that didn't happen when the producers were not anticipating a sequel. It's quite funny.

The ripple of time changes is also a little suspicious. In the first movie, it took a week for Marty to fade out of existence. But the newspaper headlines of the future changed within minutes of their successful mission. Old Biff also disappears within (probably) hours of changing the past. In fact, this scene is cleared up immensely by the rest of the deleted scene shown on the DVD, so much that I wish they had left it in the movie. I always wondered why old Biff was in pain when he got out of the Delorean. I never connected it with his ceasing to exist, even when I knew the past was changed. It's a good thing he brought the car back! Still, if he faded out, shouldn't the rest of that year have changed, as well?

As with the first movie, the music and special effects were great, but aside from the future aerial highway, didn't differ significantly from its predecessor. In fact, that is what makes the movie so impressive, that they were able to duplicate so much of it so well, including the mood of the Enchantment Under the Sea dance.

Part of what makes these movies so great is that nothing goes according to plan, yet everything turns out fine in the end. Every time Marty thinks his job will be easy, it is easy, but then something goes drastically wrong, and he has to try again, this time with much more difficulty!

The deleted scenes and outtakes on this disc are much shorter and much less interesting than for the first movie, except for old Biff fading out. The behind-the-scenes features are also a lot shorter, and I don't know why this is. The first feature actually turns into a trailer for the movie! I've seen a great video about this film when it first came out, and I wonder why it wasn't included, because it would have certainly been better than what we got. The other behind-the-scenes feature is longer, but still gives us more movie footage than extras. The rest of the stuff is between 1-3 minutes each, and so poorly edited that it looks like the disc switched the feature off almost mid-sentence. As usual, I won't be watching the director's commentary or notes for a long time, so I don't know if they are in any way interesting.

I continue to be disappointed with the extras given on the Back to the Future DVDs, but at least the movies are amazing, especially to see them in widescreen! I've heard that there is a problem with the framing of the films on discs 2 and 3, so that we get too much headroom and are missing some parts of the movie at the bottom of the screen. I didn't notice it at all, but I suppose I should get the replacement discs, anyway, just to be sure.

This movie does what no other movie can do, because of its time travel roots -visit itself and allow the main characters to watch themselves as they did what they did in the previous movie. That is the best part of it, but the future was fun, and the alternate present shows how dangerous time travel can be. Seeing Doc get hit by lightning was still shocking, helped I think, by the music. Finally, seeing the post office deliver Doc's letter from the past was fun, and it had a terrific ending, with Doc exhilarated by sending Marty back to the future, only to be confronted by the boy seconds later! Ha!

The third movie, of course, rectifies everything, with time paradoxes and more, love, and shootouts in the wild west! Knowing what is coming allowed me to pick out several scenes in this movie that set up for it, including Biff's great-great grandfather, the Clint Eastwood movie, and more. Although the third movie wasn't my favorite, I am still looking forward to it.
 
   

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