A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Back to the Future II

July 6, 2010

Back to the Future II

As with many sequels this movie tries too hard. There’s a whole lot of stuff going on, and it doesn’t all make much sense. Actually I’ve always felt that this movie is three movies. Which is why it feels so convoluted and uneven.

First there’s the future – which was set up at the end of the previous movie. Marty and Doc go into the future to stop Marty’s son from going to jail. There are a whole lot of jokes about what the future will be like, which were goofy at the time but are even stranger now, just five years before 2015, which is the year they go forward to. We don’t have hoverboards or hover cars. We don’t have universal thumbprint identification. We do have 3-D movies but they’re not holographic.

There’s also an awful lot of product placement in the future segment of this movie. Pepsi, Nike, Pizza Hut and Texaco all get big promotional plugs, and they don’t feel subtle or understated either. It’s almost as bad as the Taco Bell plug in Demolition Man (famous for being re-shot in different markets to promote different products.)

It’s all played for laughs of course, but the plastic fantastic future of the movie was never my favorite part.

Then we go to a horrific apocalyptic 1985. This is the real set up for the movie. It’s also where the movie starts to suffer from sequelitis. In the first movie Marty is trying to get his parents together to keep from going out of existence. In this movie his motivation is to prevent this awful alternative present from coming into being, so the film makers have to sell us on just how much is at stake. I understand that perfectly well, but even so I think they go a wee bit overboard. The “bad” 1985 is a war torn gangland full of biker gangs and armed school proctors where Marty’s father is dead and Biff has married his mother. It doesn’t have many laughs, and even those that they try to insert don’t work too well. (Such as Lorraine’s grotesque fake bosom.)

Which (finally) leads us to the third portion of the movie where Marty and Doc go back to 1955 to steal back a sports almanac from the future that Biff has back then. This is when the movie actually begins to get good and work as a proper follow up to the first movie. The final act of this movie takes place in and around the climactic events of the first movie, and all the best parts involve action from the first movie happening in the background and foreground as we see things from a slightly different angle. It’s very much Robert Zemeckis in his own element as he does all sorts of clever green-screen and split-screen setups to get multiple versions of Marty, Biff and the Doc all to meet up with each other.

I do enjoy the whole quest for the almanac with its twists and turns and back and forths and bits of misdirection. Ultimately however it is all too quickly over. After all the build up of the first two thirds of the movie the payoff seems almost too short. And of course the last few minutes of the movie are all the set-up for the final movie in the trilogy with Doc Brown trapped in the old west. So even after the climax of the movie when the major trouble with the alternative present have been solved you end up feeling let down.

There’s some cool stuff in this movie, but ultimately it’s just not as fun as the first or third films. Second movie syndrome.

I am, however, very curious about the implied missing time with Doc Brown between the first movie and the second. It’s intimated through things like his “emergency money” fund (a briefcase with bills from all sorts of different times) that the Doc has been busy exploring all over the place before coming back to get Marty. I’d kind of like to see the “Doc Brown Adventures” as he goes from time to time correcting wrongs and being generally outrageous while doing it. It could be a whole television series. I think I’d really like that.

Oh, Wait. They already have that show. It’s Doctor Who. And, yeah, I love it.

July 6, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , , ,

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