A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 128 – Back to the Future II

Back to the Future II – July 6th, 2010

Okay, so let’s address something first. Yesterday, word swept through Twitter that it was the day Doc Brown set the DeLorean for at the end of the first movie. So we said “Hey, cool, let’s put in the trilogy.” And we did. And when we got to the end we thought “Huh, that’s not right.” So I poked through the wikipedia article and found the year 2015. Yeah. In this one (and at the end of the first one) they go to 2015. Turns out it was all a mistake. Oops! But we’ve already started the trilogy so we’re just going to motor on through.

So this time we’re not going into the past, we’re headed into the future of Hill Valley. Marty, Doc Brown and Jennifer head into 2015 to keep Marty and Jennifer’s kids from going to jail. Of course, Jennifer’s only there because that’s how the first movie ended when they didn’t know they were going to be making a sequel. So she gets knocked out early on, then again later, and misses the vast majority of the movie. Lucky her.

Granted, it’s supposed to be goofy, but it’s all just a little too goofy for me. It’s also hilariously dated, given that this is 1989’s view of what 2015 would be like. I guess we’ve got five years to get hoverboards, hovercars, personal fusion engines, telephones back on street corners and 3D movies… Oh, wait. It’s just that it doesn’t work terribly well for me. This has always been my least favorite of the three. There’s the whole physical comedy aspect of it, and then there’s the retro-future thing, and then Marty’s new obsession with not being called a chicken and then there’s the convoluted back-and-forth time travel plot involving a sports almanac and Biff and changing the future. See, here’s my problem. For all of Doc’s high ideals about using the time machine to witness events and see cool stuff, he’s perfectly willing to go changing the futures of Marty’s kids for the better. So changing things is okay, but only the things Doc wants to change. But even that isn’t the big problem. The big problem is that the plot is just plain messy.

Marty goes into the future and finds out that his son and daughter are headed to jail if he doesn’t stop it, which is what Doc brought him to 2015 to do. So he stops that, but in the course of doing that, he meets up with a now-elderly Biff who sees the time machine. Jennifer wakes up and ends up back at the family house and sees that her and Marty’s future lives kind of suck. Biff steals the time machine and goes back in time to give his past self a sports almanac which will allow him to get rich, thereby altering the future. Marty, Doc and Jennifer go back to the present, but Biff’s fucked it up already and so they need to fix all that while also fixing the future. It’s got this bizarre mix of pop-fluff and dystopia. The present as ruled by Biff is pretty hateful. Like, not just unpleasant, but loathsome and full of domestic abuse and coercion. It was more than a little uncomfortable to watch.

Marty and Doc end up back in 1955 eventually, giving us the past, two presents, a future and eventually even more past to deal with. I do like an alternate timeline, but it’s all just so muddley in this. Fortunately, there is some good stuff. Michael J. Fox is, as always, fun and having a great time as Marty. And Christopher Lloyd gets to do the mad scientist thing again as Doc Brown. Truly, the very best bits of the movie are his. Thankfully the bits in 1955 are fun, like they were before. I think the root of the trouble is that they had to work off of the ending of the first movie, which established that they were going to the future, so they got stuck with that. But then they wanted to go back to where the heart of the first movie was and that meant using Biff to tie it all together. Since I find Biff odious on a much deeper level than I think the movie really intended, I’m not that thrilled with that.

And then Biff gets ditched and things don’t get tied up and there’s a cliffhanger and the promise of a part three in the old west. As if we didn’t have enough plot to follow.


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

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