• JFS the Reviewer

Back to the Future 35th Anniversary


Background


Back to the Future is a science fiction, directed by Robert Lee Zemeckis. Mr. Zemeckis had done past films such as I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978), 1941 (1979), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Forrest Gump (1994), and many other great films. With the last one released in theaters being Welcome to Marwen. At the time of writing this review currently in post-production with the remake of the 1990, the Witches and Pinocchio, which is in development.


The movie was written by both Mr. Zemeckis and Bob Gale, who was also a producer on the film along with Neil Canton. Mr. Gale had worked with Mr. Zemeckis on past projects together, even ones afterwards. Like the Back to the Future 1991-1992 TV series, which lasted only two seasons and in total 26 episodes.


The movie was produced by Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures, which was also the distributers. The movie ran 116 minutes (one hour and 56 minutes), which had a budget of $19 million dollars and making back over $389 million dollars. The movie also did well with critics receiving positive reviews and winning multiple awards. The movie is loved by all, but after 35 years, does it still hold up?


Story


The story for the film focuses on our main character, Marty McFly. He’s a young man that lives in the fictional town of Hill Valley in California. Marty is a good kid who has dreams of becoming famous and wanting to be with his girlfriend. But he’s worried when things don’t go his way, that he’ll end up like his parents.


More specifically his father, who is a loser and let’s people push him around. Until one night, he is called by his friend Doctor Emmet Brown or Doc as Marty calls him. Doc asks Marty to help him with an experiment, which turns out to be a time machine that he made from a DMC DeLorean. The experiment is a success and Doc prepares to go to the future, until he is shot down by a group of Libyan terrorists who he tricked to steal their plutonium (which powers the time machine).


Marty ends up taking the car and is chased down by the terrorists, until he accidentally activates the time machine to get away. Marty is then sent back to 1955 and unintentionally messes with the past. So, he meets with the past Doc Brown to help send him back to the future. However, when they find out that Marty messing with how his parents meet and how they eventually will fall in love, messes with the space time continuum.


If Marty’s parents don’t get together then he will never be born. So, it’s a race in time (literally) for Marty to get his parents to fall in love, be together, and set the timeline right.

That’s the story in a nutshell and to be honest it works. We’ve had movies that involved time traveling, but none as entertaining as this movie. It’s kept to a nice pacing and doesn’t rush to the time machine or going back to the past early in the film. It gives us a chance to be introduced to the characters like Marty, his girlfriend, his parents, and the main villain of the movie.


This gives the audience to know these characters and why we are rooting for Marty. While also understanding Marty’s feelings about his parents since who when they were young didn’t want to turn out exactly like their parents? It’s happened a few rare times at some point in your lives. Don’t lie.


We’re also given a chance to be introduced to Doc Brown and his interaction with Marty. Their relationship appears pre-established, which is a shame since I did want to see how Marty ended up becoming friends with Doc. However, as time passes in the movie, especially the films series we do see the great chemistry between the two. Along with how much they do care for one another.


Anyways, once we get through with the first act, which does a good job getting you interested in where the story is going, the second act is where it hooks you in. Where we see Marty trying everything, he can to get his parents together, all while building up a lot of fun action scenes, comedy, and “Hell Yeah!” moments. A good example of this is near the end of the film where we see Marty’s dad, George, finally stand up to his bully, balls his fist, and gives him one hell of a knockout punch. That moment really got to me, especially since picture yourself in the picture of Marty’s dad and how you finally got one in on the bully who has been picking on you for so long.


Actually, that part of the story is where I got invested in where we see George as a scared young man who doesn’t believe in himself. Doesn’t have the courage to stand up to those who bully him, which I’m sure a lot of us all have gone through. We have always doubted ourselves, we were afraid to stand up to those who hurt us, and we don’t any belief in ourselves.


We see Marty helping his father believe in himself, to stand up for himself, and not be afraid to take a leap of faith. It’s a good message and I’m happy with how it went.

This is a great movie with a good message and a good story. It builds itself up closer and closer to a great conclusion, which feels very satisfying by the end of it. Of course, that’s what we think it’s leading to until we see the story setting up for the sequel. It’s a great story, which is well-paced, keeps you hooked on everything that’s going on, and pays off well in the end.


Characters:


Michael J. Fox was the first choice to play as Marty McFly, but due to his commitment to Family Ties, they decided to try going with another actor named Eric Stoltz. However, this soon changed due to issues with Stoltz and soon Fox’s schedule opened up to allow him to play the role as Marty, which was a good thing since Fox seem to be the perfect person to play the role as Marty. I have no problem with Stolz, especially when I saw the clips, they filmed with him for the movie before he left.


However, he doesn’t seem to be able to pull off the same comedic performance as Fox does and didn’t seem to be invested with the role. It would be later revealed that he agreed that he wasn’t the right person for the role.


Marty is seen as a good kid who as I stated earlier has a dream. A dream to become famous, to have a good life, and be a success. He’s not greedy or thinks only of himself. He does look out for those he cares about, especially his girlfriend.


However, he does seem to feel some shame about his father letting people walk all over him and let people use him. So, when he’s sent to the past he tries his best to help influence his dad and help him stand up for himself. This eventually works and Marty I can tell feels proud of his father for standing up to his bully. Even refusing to let people push him around anymore and finally gets to be with the one he loves.


I like the chemistry between Marty and Doc, who is played by Christopher Lloyd. I can’t imagine there being a better person to take that role that Lloyd. You can tell he has a lot of fun with the role and is really invested in the character he is portraying. I especially love it when he explains the science of how his time machine works and how legit it all sounds, until Avengers Endgame ruined it.


I think my only nitpick of the character is I wish we got to know more about Doc. We know how he’s dedicated to his dream of inventing time travel, how he has a close bond with Marty, and risked his life to get him back home. However, I wish we got more information about him and not from the little we got from the film. It’s a minor problem and one that doesn’t ruin the film.


Thomas F. Wilson as Biff Tannen was a blast since he plays the stereotypical bully who picks on the nerd, is very rude to women, and is cruel to others. But you can tell he had a lot of fun with his role, especially when you found out he was picked on a lot when he was young and drew on what he went through for his portrayal of Biff. Biff to me is a great antagonist and is someone that Marty has to overcome, but also knows its his father that has to be the one to take down the bully. While he is a bad guy, he does have some funny moments, like mispronouncing things like: “Make like a tree and get out of here.”


Now, it’s a shame we don’t get amazing bully characters like him in these films anymore. Since they have to keep up with the time, but I still enjoyed his performance as the villain of the film and glad he came back for the next films.


I enjoyed the performance of Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover playing as Marty’s parents. We see Lea’s character, Lorraine, falls for Marty because of how he doesn’t coward before Biff, how he stands up to him, and is brave. While Crispin’s, George, character as I explained earlier is a coward, easy to push around, and doesn’t believe in himself. However, after spending time with Marty we see that George grows, begins believing in himself, and finally stands up to Biff.


We see Lorraine soon fall for George and we see how both characters are perfect for each other. I especially love seeing them when they are older and how successful George became. While the roles are reverse where Biff becomes the weak man that George used to be. So, it shows what happens when the one who is bullied finally puts the bully in their place.

Everyone else in the movie did a great job with their roles and didn’t have any problems with any of the performances. They did their job right and left some decent memorable moments.


Setting, Special effects, & Music:

When the movie begins, they have the setting be, well exactly what time period the movie came out in. In the 80s. So, seeing a lot of the 80s stuff they had for the town, the music, the vehicles, the clothing, and the electronics brought back a lot of nostalgia. When they go back into the past in 1955, they try to make it look like the 50s.

From the clothing, the way people talked, the vehicles, the music, the old TVs, and the diners. Again, more nostalgia, which is fun to see, and they did a good job trying to make it look like the 50s. What works is they don’t need to tear down the town to build over a new one. They appear to keep using the same town, only they make some changes here and there to fit the time period, so this worked.

The special effects at times does look a little…well who am I kidding does look fake. However, it’s something you can look past because of how awesome it still looked. Like when the vehicle first goes back in time how amazing it looked. Another is when after it goes back to the time it leaves behind a trail of flames and when it comes back, we see it appearing to have frozen.

Instead of it being hot, it’s incredibly cold to the point that Doc has to open the door with his foot instead of his hand. The way they had the time machine look on the DeLorean also looks very futuristic. Completely different from past time machines we’ve seen and not a phone booth either. Then of course the finale of when the time machine is sent back to the future with the bolt of lightning, which could have only worked well with the music that was being played.

The music was done by Alan Silvestri, who had done other music for films such as the Doberman Gang (1972), Cat’s Eye (1985), Predator (1987), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), the Back to the Future films, and even for the Avengers movies. I really enjoyed the music and how well they all worked in the movie. When Marty is trying to get back to the past, Doc trying to connect the cables to help get the lightning to flow towards the time machine, and the music is playing in the background. It gets you pumped up, it keeps you on the edge of your seat, and it has such a great climax by the end of it.

It’s enjoyable to listen to that I was listening to it while I was writing this part of the review. I don’t think without the music the movie would have been as much fun as it was.


Final Thoughts:

So, overall Back to the Future is in my view still one of the best movies of all time. It still holds up even after 35 years and no doubt that 15 years from now when we get to the its 50th Anniversary it will still hold up.

It has an amazing story, which is paced well and keeps the audience invested in what is going on. It has a great cast and memorable characters, that you are rooting for. It has a great soundtrack, special effects that even though do look fake are still good special effects, and a great setup for the movie to take place in. So, all in all, Back to the Future and its sequels to me are still great films.

I highly recommend watching this film with your friends, love ones, or even your kids. It’s a film that everyone can enjoy, unless science fiction movies aren’t your thing. If that’s the case, then that’s fine and you don’t have to watch it. But if these are the sort of films you can sit back and enjoy then I recommend checking this movie out.

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