Ossus Library Index Science Fiction Movie Index

BACK TO THE FUTURE, PART III

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (1990, Universal Pictures)
Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Lea Thompson, and Thomas F. Wilson

Marty travels to the Old West to rescue Doc Brown, who has fallen in love with a local school-teacher.

 

 

3+ stars+

February 14th, 2016 on DVD for the 4th time  
    No matter that it doesn't live up to the first two movies, I still really enjoy this installment. It has all the same plot machinations of its predecessors, from the tavern (cafe), to the manure and the showdown between Biff/Griff/Buford. I've mentioned this before, but I find it strange that Marty's great grandmother looks so much like his mother. I guess the McFly men like the same kinds of women.  

 

3+ stars+

August 22nd, 2008 on DVD for the 3rd time  

 

3+ stars+

April 13th, 2003 on DVD for the 2nd time  
    Quite exciting, a lot of fun, and much better than I remember it being.

I think the main thing against this movie is the very last scene, and several scattered through the film just like it. What the heck is a flying train doing? Obviously Doc thought Marty was the catalyst for changing the way the future got messed up, because he decided to make another time machine, and go off without him.

Another problem is what we come in expecting. After the first film literally blew me away, and the second film did something different from any before it, by revisiting the first one, when we see how the third film is merely an adventure without the twists, it is a little disappointing.

However, when seen on its own merits, this movie is a load of fun. The first thing that I noticed was the musical score. I absolutely love the new theme, almost as much as the older one. It is more fun than the theme from the first movie, but not as powerful. It is not meant to be used in the big climax, but only when Doc and Marty are doing unconventional things, like towing the Delorean with horses, and so on.

Doc gets some character development in this movie, in a way that is not just the clichéd mad scientist. He actually gets a love interest! I don't think Christopher Lloyd pulled it off perfectly, as his love-struck looks seemed a little too blank. But the love story actually works, to a certain extent, and it puts the time traveling in jeopardy.

With regards to the main problem of the Delorean having no gas, I thought Doc said it was electrical in the first movie. He must have just meant the time circuits. However, I don't see why they couldn't have siphoned the gas out of the Delorean that Doc had stashed in the abandoned mine to fill the tank enough to get it home. I suppose the easy explanation for that is Doc didn't have enough in that car, either. Ah, well...

Lea Thompson doesn't get much to do in this movie, but she does huff and act morally superior very well as Marty's great-... grandmother. I do wonder why she looks like Marty's mother, however, as she couldn't be related to Loraine, especially if she is now a McFly. I really have to stop thinking about these time loops!

Biff's ancestor, however, does get a lot of screen time, and is a lot of fun to watch. He makes the same mistakes in his expressions as Biff does, doesn't know how to read, and is a pure idiot bully. As I mentioned in the last movie, the Clint Eastwood movie really foreshadowed Marty's use of the steel plate for a bullet-proof vest, but it was still fun to see everybody's reactions during the duel.

I remember not really liking Clara the first time I saw this movie. This time, however, she seemed a perfect regular character, better than Jennifer, for sure. She played the part that Loraine did in the first movie, coming to check on Doc, almost ruining their plans... actually, she did ruin them, as Doc missed his train because of her!

The finale is what really allows this movie to shine. The train sequence was terrific, full of fun, excitement and novelty. I love the way the steam engine literally explodes because it can't handle the heat that Doc's special chemicals produce. The corresponding color of the smoke really adds to the intensity.

So when Marty is forced to leave Doc behind, as he rescues Clara from the runaway engine, we get to feel just as devastated as Marty does. The devastation is compounded when the train smashed the car to bits. (Which also begs the question of why the train didn't stop to investigate...)

The ending does allow us to see that Doc is alive and well, and to show that Doc's restless spirit couldn't stay in 1885. It's probably just as well. Who knows what changes to the timeline he caused while posing as a blacksmith. I'm surprised that it wasn't mentioned in the movie that Clara could be taken out of the time stream just as easily as Doc, simply because she was supposed to be dead. I wonder if Doc had any input into naming Eastwood Ravine after Marty "died".

Finally, my favorite line in the whole movie: "Is this a hold-up?" "It's a science experiment!" HA!

So while this movie is not as good as it's predecessor in terms of fixing and creating time-travel goofs, it works because the characters have knowledge and wisdom from the future. It allows Doc to create a fridge (I'm with Marty on the color of the water, though...), and a super eyepiece for his rifle. They get to have their in-jokes by posing beside the newly minted clock in the clock-tower, something they are intimately bound to. The climax of the film does what all good endings should- it's heart pounding, at the least!

As for the DVD, the extras are about what I expected, given the previous two discs. Behind-the-scenes stuff is minimal, tiny featurettes give minimal information, and the trailer gives too much away. I did learn a couple of interesting facts, but not enough to warrant watching these things, which are almost recaps of the film. Thankfully, they are very short, since they provide very little information. Kirk Cameron's questions and answers were very cheesy, though strangely that feature seemed to have the best interviews, at least in the first half. But I could barely watch it because it was so after-school-special cheesy!

As I've said about a number of movies on DVD, it's the movie that is my primary concern, so the extras don't really matter. As conclusions to the Back to the Future trilogy, this one is quite enjoyable. I'll leave it at that.

 
   

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