A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 129 – Back to the Future III

Back to the Future III – July 7th, 2010

Last time, on Back to the Future! Seriously, that’s pretty much how it starts. We get the entire last scene of the last movie, repeated for our viewing pleasure. But I won’t gripe too much because it’s a great little scene from both Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. And then Marty recaps the plot (it sounds pretty convoluted even in one run-on sentence) and we pick up with the modern version of Doc stuck in 1885 and Marty stuck in 1955 explaining to 1955 Doc what’s happened. Which turns the entire first movie into a nice big paradox, doesn’t it? Yeah. Whatever happened to not knowing about your own destiny? Whatever.

Now, given that they uncover the DeLorean, hidden by used-to-be-modern/now-old-west Doc and fix it up and then find Doc’s grave and decide to send Marty back in time to save future/past Doc, one might think this movie is more confusing than the last one. But really, it’s only the beginning. In keeping with the whole series, Marty meets up with his family, this time the first McFlys in America, and sees the Hill Valley of the time, a tiny little logging town that’s just beginning to build what will eventually be the clock tower. His mission is to save Doc’s life and you know the drill really. Marty goes to an unfamiliar time period, shows how out of place he is, gets wrapped up in whatever trouble the Biff Tannen of the time (Mad Dog Tannen in this one) is up to, and has to fix what’s wrong in order to make time all pretty again.

This time the mess Marty gets into involves Doc and a financial dispute with Mad Dog Tannen. Doc would have gotten shot but then Marty might get shot and Doc’s fallen for the new school teacher in town and is considering not going back with Marty. Oh, not to mention that they’ve got the get the DeLorean working again with only 1885 technology. It’s really pretty straightforward. Even more so than the first movie. The vast majority of the movie takes place in the old west and the most time travel enters into it (aside from how they got there in the first place and how they get home) is Doc’s conversation with Clara – the school teacher – about Jules Verne. Yeah, sure, Marty and Doc have the usual wrangling over messing with the timeline and whether the time machine should be destroyed. But it’s pretty much just a Western dressed up in sci-fi bookends.

Not that this is a bad thing! It’s just as goofy as the others, but with the more straightforward plot and all, it’s a lot easier to watch and not feel totally jerked around. I’m a big fan of time travel and paradoxes and all, but while this one isn’t as heavy on that front as the first one is, it’s still got enough of a dose of it to keep it fun. And while Doc does suffer from a case of love-based stupidity mid-movie, it makes for some good tension. Goodness knows the whole shoot-out with Mad Dog isn’t super tense. I mean, come on. Did you ever really think these movies would kill off Marty?

No, the tension is all in the end and the final rush to get the DeLorean up to 88 while Doc deals with Clara and they’re all speeding towards an unfinished bridge and a gorge that was named after a school teacher who fell into it in the present. Or, rather, it was named that in the original timeline anyhow. I’ve got to say, I do like the sort of neon colored markers of the timeline changes. Sure, the photo gimmick is silly, but things like the first movie changing the Twin Pines Mall to the Lone Pine Mall, that’s fun. Since the whole conceit of the movies involves mucking with the timeline and making alternate histories, obviously things will be different, but the movies don’t want you to make any mistake about that whatsoever. It could be cheesy, but it’s not. It’s clever. In fact, a goodly portion of the movie is full of clever jokes and nods. Especially the end. I want that damn train.


July 7, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back to the Future III

July 7, 2010

Back to the Future III

I first saw this movie in a back to back trilogy marathon in the long vanished Hynes Auditorium. It was a really great time. We got t-shirts. At the start of the movie when Doc Brown made his trademark “Great Scott! exclamation the entire theater said it along with him and then exploded into cheers. Possibly having such fun at the premier colored my view of the movie. It’s hard to dislike a movie you’ve had such a good time watching.

The big advantage that this movie has over the second one is that it’s much more linear. It doesn’t involve twisted futures and paradoxes, it’s just a straight forward adventure story set in the old west. Marty has to go back to 1885 to stop Biff’s great, great grandfather from murdering Doc Brown. There are difficulties of course. The Delorean is out of gasoline so they have to find some other means of getting it up to 88 miles an hour using the technology of the day. And of course there’s Emmet’s forbidden love in the past for science fiction loving schoolmarm Clara.

I should point out that it seemed then and continues to seem now that Emmet was particularly thick when he refused to take Clara into the future with them. I mean, she’s supposed to have been dead in a ditch by then already. I suppose that in the service of the plot even Emmet Brown can be kind of dim.

Still – I enjoy this movie. It’s linear and predictable, but it’s still fun to watch. I particularly enjoy watching Christopher Lloyd as Emmet Brown in love. He’s all crazy google eyes and ridiculous grimaces. That and the whole climactic train scene at the end (which reminds me pleasantly of Buster Keaton’s The General – classic train stuff) really make the movie for me. Zemeckis even gets to do some special effects shots when Marty meets his own great great grandfather. (I have to watch the film again to see if I can figure out how they do the shot of Seamus passing the platter to Marty.)

So yeah, lightweight but fun. Fun even without a huge cheering crowd.

July 7, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment