HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Back to the Future:
HTS Overall Score:86
WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM BOTH FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW
Coming out a day before October 21st 2015, the exact same day that Marty travels back to the future, Universal has decided to re-release the iconic trilogy on Blu-ray one more time. It comes in two different variants. The first being a nice digibook release that has all 3 film discs along with an extras disc and nice packaging. The SECOND is the premium version, with all 4 discs plus the entire animated series in a very nice custom set. Both contain the same video and audio encodes, just with different additions to them, including packaging.
There are very few films that hold Icon status as much as the “Back to the Future” trilogy holds in the hearts of audiences. I’m sure we could compare it to “Star Wars’, but that is a phenomenon entirely unique to that set of films. Still, you can’t deny Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gales’ monumental achievement in the creation of these films. When they pitched the idea of a time traveling teenager who goes back in time to change the future, it was poo poo’d by producers everywhere, and it took years of pushing for them to get the movie even green lit. It didn’t help that the duo had recent string of misadventures and box office flocks on their record either. However, when “Back to the Future” took off, it TOOK OFF like nobody’s business.
Back to the Future :4.5stars:
“Back to the Future” is a bit of a dark comedy, even though Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd do a fantastic job at making the movie light hearted and airy. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is a bit of a dweeb and a loser. He’s failing out of high school, lives with his pushover of a father George (Crispin Glover), an overweight nag of a mom, Lorraine (Lea Thompson) and his sister and brother are a nightmare to deal with. He’s bullied at school by Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) and his principal even tells him that no McFly has ever made anything of himself and Marty is no exception. The only real friend that Marty has is in the form of Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), the neighborhood mad scientist.
After Doc Brown asks Marty for help in his latest hair brained invention, Marty jumps at the chance. Skateboarding his way to Doc Brown’s in the middle of the night, he’s confronted with a time traveling DeLorean and some terrorists who are hot on the heels of Doc Brown for stealing the plutonium needed to power the machine. In hail of bullets, in which Doc Brown gets shot, Marty is sling shotted back in time to 1955, 30 years ago, when his parents were his age. Marty is a duck out of water in 1955, but the people are all people he knows, just 30 years younger. Taking advantage of the situation, he has to dodge his soon to be mother’s amorous attentions as well as use his knowledge of the future to shape the past in order to create a better life for him and his loved ones 30 years from now.
If you read it on paper, the movie doesn’t sound extremely funny. In fact it sounds depressingly and horribly bleak. Ironically that’s how it plays out on screen, but with a fantastic veneer of comedy that masks the darker element and allows the pain of the plotline to be laughed at. Very similarly to how comedians use their painful past to create hysterically funny jokes. Marty is an abused boy, in a hopeless situation, but his optimism and relationship to the quirky Doc Brown make for some hilarious situations.
“Back to the Future” is one of those fantastic movies that strikes like lightning, with little warning and leaving a huge shockwave in its wake. The comedy just works, the relationships are fantastic, and it has a way of resonating with people all the world over. Every teen can relate in SOME way to SOME of the trials that Marty goes through, and who doesn’t love Christopher Lloyd hamming it up to level 11? Michael J. Fox was a good actor, but he made a household name out of himself with this film, in much the same way Mark Hamill did with Luke Skywalker. Zemeckis and Gale has pure gold on their hands and they fought for years to get it to the public, and really reaped their rewards.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=56921[/img]Back to the Future 2 :4.5stars:
With the first film’s success cementing a future for the franchise, “Back to the Future 2” adds a layer of complexity to the series. If you remember the last few moments of the first movie, Doc Brown rushes over to the McFly household in order to warn Marty that he must travel to the future to save his and love interest’s Jennifer’s (now played by Elizabeth Shue) children from certain doom. Now he not only has to go FORWARD in time. To October 21st 2015 to be exact, but also jump back to 1955 once more to fix things in the past.
The series really dealt with time paradoxes when it was introduced, but not now it’s the main focus of the film. McFly has to go to a chrome and spandex infested 2015 future, and give us humans the bright idea of hover boards (I’m still waiting on my stinking hover board) and a futuristic Biff Jr. (still played by Thomas F. Wilson) as well as good old Biff himself. Biff Sr. gets caught up in the whole time travel loop when he sees Marty in the future and goes back to 1955 to change things for HIMSELF. Unfortunately this is going to mess up a ton of things for Marty as well, so he has to follow Biff back in time to 1955 once more and set things right.
As mentioned, time travel paradoxes weren’t really a major focus on the first film, but “Back to the Future 2” digs into the nuts and bolts of having 2 Marty’s and 2 Biff’s running around in the same time line messing with things. So now things get really stick when the different characters start realizing that there’s more than one of themselves, and knowing opens up a an entirely different set of paradoxes and chains of events. Much like the first film, we end with a cliffhanger where Marty is trapped in the past. However, this time he finds a note from Doc Brown that states that HE is trapped back in the 1800s, leading up to the inevitable 3rd film (which was actually filmed at the same time as “Back to the Future 2”).
“Back to the Future 2” is arguably the best of the series, despite historical evidence that says sequels are usually worse than their predecessors. It’s a bit goofier and really amps up the complexity of the series. The first movie was a fun little jaunt to the past, but Zemeckis and Gale amped it up another notch by adding in the dual time travelers crossing multiple time lines and interacting with their past selves. Michael J. Fox obviously had a blast with the role and I don’t think that Christopher Lloyd can UNDER act in any way shape or form. The success of the first one gave these guys some confidence, as both “Back to the Future” 2 and 3 were filmed simultaneously, and the end cliffhanger was thought of way before production. It has some flaws, but VERY few of them in my opinion.
Back to the Future 3 :4stars:
“Back to the Future 3” is interestingly enough the weakest of the trilogy. Especially considering the two were written and filmed back to back. I guess you could say that the story had worn a bit thin, even with the wild success of the second film. Doc Brown had been shot back through time to the 1800s and Marty has to come back to the wild and wooly west to rescue him. After piecing together the clues left by Doc, Marty repairs the DeLorean and travels back to 1885 to help the Doc out.
It seems that Doc has been living a peaceful life in the old west for a while thanks to a time travel accident, but is now going to be gunned down by the merciless outlaw, Buford “Mad Dog” Tannon…AKA Biff (Thomas F. Wilson). He’s still a bully back in the old west, but this time the bullies have guns and even more of a sense of entitlement than in the future. Doc has found a bit of a lady friend in Clara (Mary SteenBurgen) and is doing his best to stay alive.
Marty is back as a “main” character, but this is really Doc Brown’s story. Marty’s along for the ride as his assistant, but the hero of the story is Doc this time. He’s the one who has to face down Mad Dog and he’s the one who has to win his love interest in the face of danger. “Back to the Future 3” is a blast, but one that is slightly flawed. Even though it was filmed at about the same time as “Back to the Future 2”, the level of storytelling is a bit flawed. The jokes are a bit hit or miss and so is the entertainment. The story itself takes itself a tad too seriously, and the hokey old west vibe sometimes comes through inadvertently. Still, it’s a GOOD movie, just not up to the high expectation levels we had from the previous two blockbusters, and it makes a wonderful bookending to the series. There has been rumors for years that Universal was wanting to do a “Back to the Future” reboot, or a fourth movie with the cast if they could, but Zemeckis and Gale have come forth saying that since they own the rights to the film, not Universal, they are going to keep that from coming to light. As much as I really don’t mind reboots. Sometimes it’s better to leave the classics alone.
Rated PG: Parental Guidance recommended
Universal has REALLY been rebranding themselves with their catalog titles recently. They used to be known for copious amounts of DNR and other digital manipulations combined with decade’s old masters for their catalog releases. However recently they have really but pulling out the stops and remastering a TON of old classics. “Spartacus”, “Munich” and others are popping out with gorgeous 4K transfers that look stunning. While the “Back to the Future” films haven’t been given the remastering that would have made this set a real no brainer for current owners, it uses the exact same encodes (including the VC-1 codec) that was used for the 25th anniversary edition. Still, that’s not a cause for too much alarm as the 25th Anniversary edition had some very solid encodes to them. The films have always been grainy and a bit soft due to the opticals used by Robert Zemeckis, but there is still plenty of fine detail to be had. Being that Zemeckis shot all three with the same film stock, al look REALLY close to each other. Fine detail is good, and black levels are definitely impressive. Some of the special effects blending look a bit awkward, and have been softened around the edges to hide the telltale signs, but that’s fairly normal for this type of film.
The only real issue that the set has is that the VC-1 codec is tad inefficient compared to the AVC codec and there’s a bit of the “what could have been” left on the table. Would there be any appreciable difference? Who knows, but it would have been nice to try. There IS some DNR applied to the master, as there are some definite waxy features at times. Usually facial detail suffers the most from these issues, and while it’s nowhere near “Face/Off” or “Predator: Ultimate Hunter Edition”, it still is noticeable.
Now there’s nothing really bad to say about the audio being recycled, as it was already a fantastic sounding 5.1 mix. Vocals and dialog are crisp and clear, with fantastic balancing with the sci-fi effects of the films. The LFE channels roar with power when the DeLorean blasts a whole through time and space, and there’s quite a few moments in the 3rd movie to add some oomph to the low end (the pistol shots alone carry a solid amount of heft behind them). There is fantastic fidelity amongst the individual sounds. The rocking of the guitar, the clanking of a dropped weight, or the shuffling of feet as Marty scampers to get away from Biff. Each has a distinctive tone and texture to them all their own. My only issue is the fact that there isn’t as much surround activity as one would have hoped for. There is surround activity, and it’s fairly constant, but I just didn’t detect the quantity of sounds coming from those rear channels as I feel the film deserves. It’s not a very big issue, and it’s only noticeable if you really focus on it, but it is annoying nonetheless as a rabid “Back to the Future” fan.
• 2015 Message from Doc Brown
• Doc Brown Saves the World!
• Outatime: Restoring the DeLorean
• Looking Back to the Future
-Casting Marty McFly
-Christopher Lloyd Reflects on Doc Brown
-The DeLorean Time Machine
-Building Hill Valley
-Prepping for the "Johnny B. Goode" Scene
-Rushing the Cut
• Back to the Future The Animated Series - Two episodes:
• 2015 Commercials
This 30th Anniversary set contains some new extras, but is essentially a repackaging of the 25th anniversary edition we had years ago. The one consoling factor in all of this is that the limited edition set contains the entire animated series, which has been unreleased till now. So as such, unless you’re a huge junkie of the series and would like the other extras, this digibook set really isn’t worth upgrading. HOWEVER, it is the best version released to date so new buyers and those who have held off for a remastering shouldn’t fear about picking it up. The animated series is the real pull for many of us and that requires upgrading to the limited edition set. Recommended.
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Thomas F. Wilson
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Written by: Robert Zemeckis, Bog Gale
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 VC-1/1.85:1 VC-1/1.85:1 VC-1
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 (all films)
Runtime: 116 minutes : 109 minutes : 119 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: October 20th, 2015
Buy Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Trilogy Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Limited Edition Trilogy Blu-ray on Amazon
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