J.D. Lafrance
The Back to the Future Trilogy DVD Review

The Back to the Future Trilogy

February 4, 2006

Director: Robert Zemeckis, ,
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson, Mary Steenburgen, Elisabeth Shue, Casey Siemaszko, Billy Zane, James Tolkan, Marc McClure, Wendie Jo Sperber, ,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

Great Scot! Marty and the Doc are back again for a seriously heavy new Back to the Future boxset.

There are few films we can call untouchable classics, but Back to the Future parts one, two and three are about as close as you could get to a perfect trilogy outside of the original Star Wars films. It’s a wonderful thing to think DVD will allow a whole new generation to fall in love with a teenager who likes to visit a strange old man who films everything on his camcorder. But this being the 80’s, it’s all completely innocent and we never question just how Marty came to be friends with a loony inventor from across town.

Director Zemeckis, who went on to win Oscars for films like Forrest Gump and Contact, has admitted that Back to the Future is the best thing he and Bob Gale have ever written, and since the screenplay is still used as an example in film schools we’re not about to question him. It was nominated for an Oscar, and deservedly so. There’s not one bad or out of place sequence in the whole film. Also for a film released the same time as Rambo 2 and Desperately Seeking Susan, BTTF holds up well today thanks to its strong characters and flashy photography – “No one shoots cars like Dean Cundey,” Zemeckis has said. If you want to know how to make a car look cool this is the film to watch, from the Delorean’s magical introduction as it slowly reverses out of the smoky truck, to the dash-to-the-finish ending by the clock tower, it’s amazing for kids of the 80’s to think before this film Deloreans were the laughing stock of the American motoring industry.

If the first film was perfect, how could they have followed it up? Well the answer is A) The studio wanted a sequel and B) the team wanted to work together again. The key to making the sequel work was the revolutionary idea of literally revisiting the first film as Marty goes back to 1955 to steal back a sports Almanac Biff gave to himself to make him rich, all the time avoiding his past self from 1985…Confused? That’s the only real problem with BTTF Part 2 – you have to see it several times before you can stop scratching your head, it’s so dense. Also, how do you show the future 2015 as pictured in 1989? Zemeckis was wary of showing the future as it nearly always turns out to be “too much or too little.” Instead he decided to just make it plain funny. Who could forget the hoverboards or the self-drying clothes? Ridiculously impractical yet utterly desirable.

Ending on a cliffhanger worthy of Desperate Housewives, Part 2 left the door open for Part 3, which had actually been shot at the same time and the films were released in December 1989 and Summer 1990 respectively (Take THAT Matrix sequels). Doc Brown is stuck in the old west of 1885, opening up a surprisingly sweet love story with schoolteacher Clara Clayton and allowing Marty to pass himself off as Clint Eastwood. After all the technological hoo-ha of Part 2, we now have the complete opposite situation where even gasoline is unavailable, leading Marty and the Doc to conjure a cunning plan to use a train to push the Delorean up to the requisite 88 miles-per-hour. The ending ties up the entire trilogy so neatly that you have wonder about people who continue to demand a fourth Back to the Future.

If you don’t already own the trilogy on DVD, now is your chance to rectify this horrifying situation and own a true classic.

Special Features:

The features on the film discs remain the same as the previous release: outtakes, deleted scenes, making ofs – the only change here is the addition of an all-new commentary from Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale. A new fourth disc is where the new stuff comes in. Those features in full:

Audio tracks of Q&A sessions with Robert Zemeckis and writer/producer Bob Gale; Deleted scenes with Bob Gale audio commentary; The Secrets of The Back to the Future Trilogy; The Making of Back To The Future Part III; Production design; Storyboarding; Designing the DeLorean; Designing the town of Hill Valley; The Evolution of Visual Effects Shots; Huey Lewis and The News ‘The Power of Love’ music video; Excerpts from the original screenplay FAQs about the trilogy.

The Q&A sessions are the most enlightening additions (did you know the clock tower in Part 3 was unfinished because of budgetary reasons?) and the concept art for the Delorean is interesting too. So we finally have the “ultimate” edition eh? Well let’s hope so. There’s still no sign of a commentary on parts two and three, but a lot of ground is covered in the Q&As so this doesn’t sting too much. This is a great package and one that will keep you busy for days.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 98%



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