“Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads!”

Prepare yourselves, guys! We are less than three short years away from the date on which the Doc and Marty McFly arrived in the future – October 21st, 2015. If Back to the Future II is accurate, we should expect to have flying cars, hover-boards, and interactive holograms any day now! Not to mention self-tying shoes, self-drying clothing, dog-walking robots, etc. The list goes on and on…

The very unrealistic Jaws hologram…

In fact, this is one of the problems I had with this rather over-the-top sequel. While the futuristic inventions shown in the movie are pretty neat, I felt that the amount of time spent on showering the audience with all these new inventions (roughly the first 30 minutes of the film) was excessive. Don’t get me wrong – it is certainly comforting to know that three years from now, I’ll have a robot hovering over my table waiting to feed me grapes. But I would have preferred to do without this knowledge, and to get to the plot of the film more quickly.

Once we do get into the plot, we see that it is much more convoluted than that of the first film. Baddie Biff Tannen returns in Part II to steal the DeLorean, which he uses to travel to the past (1955). In doing so, his actions disrupt the “space-time continuum,” leading to an alternate, dystopian present (1985) which Doc and Marty must fix at all costs. This requires them to return to 1955, which Marty has already traveled to in the first film, and so he has the added pressure of not running into his other self while on his quest to right Biff’s wrongs. Confusing, right? I thought it was very much so! But then, this is a sequel, and filmmakers usually go to all costs to try and outdo their first movie.

So, is this sequel superior to the original? Most definitely not. While the filmmakers’ attention to detail in the first flick was flawless – not a detail too many, and every detail had its place – in Part II, I felt like there was an overload of useless information. In addition, while the first Back to the Future is original and fresh, I felt like the sequel was not. While I had a good laugh at the sheer absurdity of some of the situations that the characters find themselves in, I don’t think I’ll be watching this film again anytime soon. Seriously, if you can only watch one, WATCH THE FIRST ONE! All you’ll get out of this film is an intense desire to own a kick-ass hover-board.

Details, Details, Details…

I can still remember the first time I watched this film… I was no more than 9 or 10 years old, and I thought it was the greatest movie of all time! In my mind, it had it all – a time-travelling pooch, a car that left awesome flame tracks in its wake, and a guy who hitched high-speed skateboard rides from trucks! In fact, so appealing were those skateboard rides to me that I talked my parents into buying me one (wisely purchased at a garage sale), which I sold soon after when I discovered that I was spending more time on the ground than on the board.

Gotta love those flame trails!

That was what I got from the movie the first time around. I had not watched it all through again until today, and I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed it just as much, if not more, this time! I found that, years later, I still loved the easy-going Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and the crazy “Doc” (Christopher Lloyd)… I also found that the plot still kept me entertained. But what really drove me to blog about this film was the realization of how well put-together everything in it is. There is not a single detail out of place!

For starters, the opening scene of the movie introduces us to the Doc’s workshop, which is packed with clocks. While this clearly serves to alert the viewer to the overriding theme of the movie (hint hint, time-travel), it also serves the higher purpose of fleshing out Doc’s character. Although the audience does not know it at the time, they will later come to realize that Doc is obsessed with clocks because of the events that happened thirty years before!

The seemingly unimportant dinner scene is also packed with details that the audience will only appreciate after watching the film through in its entirety. For example, when Lorraine is telling her kids about how she and George met, we don’t make anything of the fact that George is overly distracted with the TV. Only later do we tie this in with the fact that he was a “peeping Tom.” A less noticeable detail, yet one I found interesting all the same, is that they are watching the exact same episode of The Honeymooners that Lorraine’s family is watching when Marty has dinner with them in 1955.

My personal favorite minor detail is the Twin Pines Mall sign. When they are in the mall parking lot, the Doc mentions that he remembers when Mr. Peabody, a man who grew pines, owned that land. Later on, when Marty travels to the past, he ends up on Mr. Peabody’s ranch, where he runs over a pine tree. This is seemingly unimportant, until later in the film, when Marty returns to the mall, and we see that the sign now says: Lone Pine Mall. To me, it is the little things like these that show how much thought a filmmaker puts into a movie!