The throwback of all throwbacks. The movie trilogy so nostalgic it literally visits its own past before entirely screwing with it- Back to the Future. How could my first Throwback Thursday review be about anything else? And, appropriately, I’m going to tell you the story from the very beginning… before someone messes with it.
Several years ago, back when His Master’s Voice (or HMV to normal folk) was in trouble and their shops were closing down throughout the country, I happened to venture to my local store in its final days. Lots of stuff had already been bought and the place was looking a little bare. Oddly for me, I had wandered to the Blu-ray aisle because I had only just been given a laptop with a Blu-ray player; it was time to start building a small collection (though much smaller than my DVD collection because of the price!) Nestled in the middle of the reduced Blu-ray boxes was the entire trilogy of Back to the Future. At the time, I had only seen the first film once and it had been many years since I had but even I could tell that, at £6, it was an absolute steal. So I bought it. And my love affair for this series began.
The first movie is an absolute, undisputed classic. Not a lot more has to be said about it really (but because this is a movie review, I will.) It is an adventure story mixed with sci-fi mixed with comedy mixed with rom-com, putting it in a genre all by itself. There are many movies that do one thing well but this movie does everything well. So many scenes are memorable and so many lines quotable. The final scene with the lightning storm is one of the greatest in cinema, with equal tension and excitement to the final trench run in Star Wars. All of this really derives from what is often touted as one of the best screenplays ever written. In fact, it is considered so perfect, it is used in film schools as an example of the perfect script! Despite its genius being so apparent now, the film did have its trouble getting made with the director, Robert Zemeckis, having to go all over Hollywood with his idea. He eventually turned to the spectacular Steven Spielberg and lo and behold, Back to the Future was born. For the full story, check out the documentary Back in Time which is on Netflix right now- it is only an hour long and absolutely fascinating.
A movie and indeed, movies, are nothing without their characters though. Marty McFly played effortlessly by Michael J Fox is our unassuming hero, bumbling through time and making all the mistakes that any normal teenager would make. That is the brilliance of his character. He IS the audience doing ridiculous things like saving his father before he is his father because that is exactly what any of us would do. Although, ending up in a relationship with your mother? Perhaps not that one! Then there is Doc Brown played by Christopher Lloyd, who I first encountered as a child in the Pagemaster, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Anastasia -Lloyd with a Russian accent? Priceless! He plays the perfect mentor to Marty and their duo is one of the greatest in cinema. He is eccentric, exuberant and funny whilst being incredibly endearing due to that relationship with Marty. It is as if Albert Einstein and your grandad fused with a Looney Toons character. And let us not forget the brilliant supporting cast with the various incarnations of Biff and Marty’s parents either. Together, they sell the world that Marty travels about in and provide so much context for the events of the story whilst also being amazing fun.
The second movie and third movie get some degree of attacks from critics to which I do find some agreement. Part 2 is a little messy at times and the third movie is easily the cheesiest of the three. However, the second movie zips between three time zones with the future, alternate past and then the alternate alternate past past (if you have seen it, you will know what I mean), so you might expect it to be a little less clean than the first. And the third movie is a Western which are usually either Oscar-serious like Unforgiven or cheesy gold like the Magnificent Seven. And Part 3 is definitely cheesy gold, or perhaps cheesy plutonium.
But the main counterpoint to criticism against Part 2 and 3 is this. I remember sitting down to watch the trilogy for the first time and I binged them all in one giant sitting like it was Breaking Bad or Orange is the New Black. It is also how I first showed these movies to my best friend. To me, that is why this series is so brilliant. It is not Back to the Future 1,2 & 3. It is Back to the Future PART 1, PART 2 and PART 3. They are one epic saga of movies which flow seemlessly into one another. The flaws simply disappear and you are left with endlessly rewatchable classics. Put together as one giant “supermovie” they tell the tale of one teenage boy, his strange scientist best friend and a time travelling Delorean. Yes, Doc Brown made a time machine out of a Delorean. And I am ever so glad he did. Taking the whole series together, there is only one score I can give it. Hopefully you have seen these movies already but if not, you know what to do. Get watching!