Thursday, January 21, 2010

Movie: Back to the Future (trilogy)

1. BTTF (1985)
Rating: 5/5
Watch again? YES.
This past weekend, I went to a "Back to the Future" trilogy marathon at a friend's house. I'd been looking forward to seeing the first one, if only to see if it still held up to my memories of it.

Did it ever! Of course there's the DeLorean, and I was digging the mid-'80s ILM special effects. Back before all this computer-graphics stuff, the ILM guys were working with film to get the signature blue glow of the car's transition into time. It looks marvelous.

The story is straight forward: Marty McFly goes back to 1955 and has to find his friend "Doc" Emmett "GREAT SCOTT!!" Brown for help. In the meantime he meets his own parents and messes up their meeting. While Doc gets the DeLorean ready for its trip back to 1985, Marty has to bring his parents together--or he'll never exist!

Best acting of the three flicks, for the simple reason that everyone plays it straight. The humor just happens naturally, mostly hinging on Marty's fish-out-of-water status.

2. BTTF II (1989)
Rating: 2/5
See again? Nope.

I hate this movie. It's easily as bad as the book. The acting is all over-the-top and WHY THE HELL IS EVERYONE YELLING THEIR FREAKING LINES?! Everyone. Even the car is yelling, but in her case it's understandable--she's yelling at her stupid agent for getting her such a crappy gig. The humor is forced and much less smart than that of the original. I get the feeling that the director's entire pep talk to the cast was: "Remember, this is a comedy! Act funny! ACTION!"

This movie's bad enough that I'm surprised George "Your acting sucks, but we'll fix it in Post" Lucas wasn't involved.

The special effects suffer. The time-transfer effects on the DeLorean are much the same as in the first movie, but this one has some bad or awkward transitions from effects shots to real-world shots, or clumsy-looking real-world effects (the flying cars "landing" look like they're coming in nose-low and bouncing, but the miniature effects shots show the cars flying level and smooth).

Sadly, the book is faithful to the movie: it sucks, too. Just not as loud. And they both drag.

Marty and Doc go to the year 2015 to save Marty's kids from jail. Marty finds a sports almanac (1950 to 2000), hoping to make a few bucks--but Doc takes it and throws it away. Biff (the bully from the first movie, now an old man) grabs it, steals the DeLorean and goes back to 1955 to give himself a present that'll make him filthy rich. Doc & Marty have to go back to fix that...and then the DeLorean gets hit by lightning. Doc and the car 1885!

I'm adding two points because the movie's got a DeLorean in it.

3. BTTF III (1990)
Rating: 2
See again? Maybe.
Much more tolerable than its predecessor, but still not as good as the original. Marty--still in 1955--gets a letter from Doc, from 1885. The DeLorean's waiting in a mine outside of town, waiting for 1955 Doc and Marty to get it and repair the time circuits so Marty can go home to 1985. Doc tells him to destroy the time machine as soon as he's safely home, to keep from damaging the space-time continuum any further.

Marty finds Doc's 1885 tomb--just a few days after writing that letter, Doc dies! Of course Marty goes back to 1855 to save his friend. Biff the Bully's great-great-something-Grandfather is there, still a bully, but much more tolerable than that 2015 yelling moron. Like in the first flick, the supporting cast plays it straight and the humor's kind of there. But this movie just doesn't have the chemistry of the first, even though most of the same actors are in all three flicks. It's good enough to be a "4"...

BUT...this movie also commits an evil that has me knocking 2 more points off its score: the DeLorean is demolished at the end. Even if it's just a movie car, a wrecked replica, I don't care. I'm a Car Guy and DeLoreans are the holiest of holies in my top-ten list of cars. I can watch douchemobiles like BMW, Mercedes, and Porsche being crushed into cubes. Hell, I'd recommend it, since there are plenty of douchemobiles to go around. There aren't many DeLoreans left.

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