Was it a movie I saw since August 22nd, 2009: Yes. #383.
This is super long. You have been warned.
1) I love this movie. With all my heart. With a burning passion. It is my favorite film of all time. I first saw it…well, I was probably 7 when I first saw it but I didn’t remember it much. I first saw it and remembered it on my 13th birthday and watched it with my family and freaking fell in love! I ended up watching it once a month for the next year, I’ve seen it easily at least 20 times, I even got a chance to see the entire trilogy in theaters on October 21, 2015! And I think that’s all because it is connected to a time in my life when I needed an escape like this. Back to the Future provided me with comfort during a year in my life which was one of the hardest in my life. I would not be a film student today if it were not for this movie, I could probably write a book on the trilogy! I’ll do my best to keep this shorter than a book though.
2) The opening pan of Doc Brown’s lab is a great way to start the film. The high number of clocks puts an emphasis on times (with the clock of Harry Lloyd hanging from the hour hand being particularly foreshadowing), and we get a lot of information for smoothly.
Doc Brown used to be rich but his mansion burned down.
We know the film is set in 1985.
There is some missing plutonium.
Doc is an inventor, as seen from all the inventions he has in the lab.
It’s a simple, memorable way to start the film and I love it.
3) Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly!
Marty McFly is honestly you’re average guy without being boring. He’s got people in his life he cares about and who care about him, he’s got ambitions even if they’re not “change the world” ambitions, he has anxieties, and he’s just very relatable. Also he’s pretty cool, and his introduction establishes a lot of important things about Marty. It shows us his love for music, a sharp wit (“Rock ‘n Roll!”), and an ability to roll with the punches (for example, being flung across the room by an amplifier and then saying, “Rock ‘n Roll!”).
Honestly Marty NEEDS Michael J. Fox. Eric Stoltz was originally cast in the role as Fox (who was the filmmakers’ first choice) was busy on his TV show “Family Ties” at the time but Stoltz was just NOT working out. It’s easy to make Marty sort of annoying on paper. There’s a Back to the Future comic book running right now and there was an arc starting around issue #6 where Marty started to bug me. And that’s because he was PURELY writing, there was no Michael J. Fox to bring that x factor Marty needs so badly. Fox (who ended up working on both “Family Ties” and Back to the Future at the same time) is what MAKES the character. There is no Marty McFly without Michael J. Fox.
4) Doc tells Marty that his, “experiment worked! [The clocks] are all exactly 25 minutes slow!” How is that an experiment? Can’t I do that with my clocks?
5) “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis & The News is a great theme song for the film. I personally prefer “Back in Time” which plays towards the end of the film, but there’s no underestimating the power of “The Power of Love”. It’s a memorable, slick tune, which plays under a scene which very easily gives us a sense of what the town of Hill Valley is like. Another key ingredient to the film.
6) Freaking Strickland.
Strickland is not on screen for much time but he’s memorable. And that’s because he’s a raging asshole. Actor James Tolkan is able to play Strickland well in his few scenes because he makes his assholish nature funny. Much like Jeffrey Jones’ character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Strickland is someone MAD with the little power he has. I mean look at that GIF above! Personal space, dude! It’s hysterical, and the character forever changes the way I hear the word, “slacker!”
7) Hey, look Huey it is! (I’m so sorry.)
8) In there few scenes together, Michael J. Fox and Claudia Wells make you feel that Marty and Jennifer REALLY love each other. There’s a quiet trust and honesty to their performance, an ability to talk with each other openly while being true to who they are. Do you think Marty would tell ANYONE else his fears about his rejection? His parents? No, no he wouldn’t. It’s a shame we didn’t get more Jennifer in the film, but the little we do is much appreciated.
9) This film really excels in the exposition department, because it gives you the information you need to know in smooth natural ways. You don’t feel like the film has paused to tell you, “This information is important,” it just makes sense! Whether it’s done for laughs or because it’s an honest character moment, it just works! This is true in:
The “Save the Clocktower” scene.
Lorraine telling her children how her and George met.
Doc Brown giving us ALL the exposition we need about his time machine.
10) Oh Biff.
Biff [after we learn he wrecked George’s car]: “I can’t believe you lent me your car without telling me it had a blind spot in it!”
I’ll talk more about Biff once we get to 1955.
11) Thomas F. Wilson, Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson all day amazingly playing the old age versions of their characters. You don’t feel like you’re watching 20 somethings play adults, you feel like you’re watching adult performers! And then it feels as natural when they’re playing the teenagers in 1955. It just works and I give massive credit to not only the actors for pulling that off but also the makeup people for not making the old age stuff look too ridiculous.
12) Okay, what 47 year old man calls someone a butt head? Like, how juvenile is that? I mean that’s probably the point, because it’s Biff, but still!
13) It’s a running gag throughout the series that Marty’s uncle/Lorraine’s sister Joey is in jail. Except…WHAT IS HE IN JAIL FOR!?!? I MUST KNOW!!!! MURDER!? ARSON!? FRAUD!? FALSE ADVERTISING!? WHAT IS IT JOEY!?
14) So, Lorraine in 1985 seems…pretty miserable to me. With watching it 20+ times I see that she’s pretty much an alcoholic, she’s always morose, she rarely smiles, and the look on her face after she recounts the story of how she and George fell in love…like she does NOT look happy!
And then that line becomes sort of greater after finishing the film. By 1955 standards she “chased” Marty as Calvin Klein, meaning she probably felt that she chased George too. Now she regrets that and wants to A) create some revisionist history and B) make sure other people don’t make her perceived mistakes. Thank god for time travel to make her life better though!
15) Remember this sign:
16) Alan Silvestri’s INCREDIBLE score does not kick in until 18 minutes into the film, first appearing when the DeLorean first shows up. That’s because up until this point life was normal. Marty went to school, got busted for being late, Biff was an ass, a normal day. Then the extraordinary enters the picture and Silvestri’s score signals us of that.
17) Christopher Lloyd as the iconic Doctor Emmett Brown.
(GIF source unknown [if this is your GIF please let me know].)
Lloyd is spectacular in the role. Be is able to mash up the mad scientist archetype and bring to it a warmth and childlike glee to every moment. He is EXCITED! He’s passionate about all he does and that is his dominating personality trait. He’s not mean or condescending like Dr. Frankenstein, he’s just this guy who wants to do something great with his life and he finally accomplishes that! Lloyd is great through and through, bringing that essential warmth and energy to every scene Doc is in. He feels over the top but he never feels phony. And his chemistry with Fox is off the charts.
Fun fact: Doc’s signature hunched over stature came about because Christopher Lloyd (6'1") is significantly taller than Michael J. Fox (5'4½") & they had to appear in frame together.
18) There is a fan theory out there that Doc was actually trying to commit suicide the night of the DeLorean test. He had himself and Marty placed right in front of the car, was joyfully surprised when it actually worked, and in 1955 comments that he, “finally invent[s] something that works!” That makes the film way dark way fast so we’re going to move on.
19) The DeLorean going into the future is just such an iconic image.
(GIF sources unknown [if these are your GIFs please let me know].)
Everything about that visually is so iconic and incredible. From the flames to the pair turning around, and ESPECIALLY the spinning license plate! All great!
20) The DeLorean.
Marty: “Wait a minute, wait a minute Doc! Are you telling me that you built a TIME MACHINE…out of a DeLorean?”
Doc’s immediate response was that he wanted to build a time machine with some style, and then goes on to say, “The stainless steel construction was perfect for,” and is cut off by the DeLorean returning to the present. WHAT IS THE STAINLESS STELL CONSTRUCTION PERFECT FOR DOC!? WHAT!?
According to IMDb:
Writers Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis actually received a fan letter from John DeLorean after the film’s release, thanking them for immortalizing his car.
21) The interior of the car is just as sleek and simple as the exterior. There is nothing superfluous in this film, and everything that’s necessary is fun!
(I know this GIF is from Part II but it’s the best one I can find of the readout.)
One of my favorite phrases my Creative Writing professor had for when you’re writing fantasy is ‘giving your story a Flux Capacitor’.
Because it’s not real, it doesn’t exist. But the way it’s thrown into Back to the Future, at no point does it throw the audience off or suspend any more disbelief than time travel would. You believe Doc when he says he created the Flux Capacitor - the thing that makes time travel possible, because the universe never questions him.
So it essentially means like, there are going to be elements to your universe that are just not gonna make any sense, even if you set up a whole system based on it. And the only way to make it work is completely own it. You cannot second-guess your system or else the reader will too. You can give it the strangest explanation, but write it like you own it.
Doc [after he says he’ll visit 25 years in the future]: “I’ll also be able to see who wins the next 25 world series!”
24) The car chase between Marty and the Libyan nationalists is the first showcase of the film’s excellent action. In the action-y parts of the film the audience is kept tense at every turn. Every little moment has a cause and an effect and you’re just waiting on the edge of your seat to see what happens because of it. That’s great.
25) Robert Zemeckis has said that he and the filmmakers talked about having the time travel sequence be long and cool, but they realized it should be instantaneous. That when you travel back in time, you travel back in time in the same spot you’re in. It’s not like a TARDIS which moves you through time and space: if where you are was a farm 30 years ago, then when you travel back 30 years in time you’ll be in a farm.
26) Remember this:
27) The scene where Marty is wandering through Hill Valley in 1955 is done so well, and it establishes Hill Valley’s character. Because that’s what this town is: a character. Marty never travels back to Ancient Rome or Capone’s Chicago, it is ALWAYS Hill Valley and we get to know the town and its history because of that.
28) Biff and his crew.
Biff is shown at his most villainous in 1955, when he’s a big freaking bully! But Thomas F. Wilson also makes him enjoyable to watch. You like it when he gets punched and embarrassed, and Wilson brings a lot of humor to what could be a very cold role. I’ll talk about one important improv later.
He’s a total weirdo in the role but that’s what makes it work! He’s socially awkward and a pushover and THAT’S his character, but Glover also makes it believable that George goes through the transformation he does by film’s end. It’s a shame they couldn’t really get him for the sequels.
30) Man, just wait until Lou gets to 2008.
Lou [after he hears that Goldie Wilson wants to be mayor, which he becomes]: “A colored mayor, that’ll be the day.”
31) This film handles the ideas of expectations vs reality well (like when Marty finds out his dad’s a peeping tom), and that’s where it shines. This isn’t some time travel film about time bandits or something. The science fiction is just the device to tell this really interesting, human story about a kid realizing he’s got more in common with his parents than he thought. And THAT’S why it’s so special!
Sam Bane [after Marty pushes George out of the road and gets hit by his car]: “Stella! Another one of these damn kids jumped in front of my car!”
33) Okay so the fact that Lorraine has the hots for her future son Marty is creepy (that’s the point), but it also makes sense. As I understand it human beings are naturally disposed to experience physical attraction to our own genetics in other people. So if you don’t KNOW it is your family member, than you just think it’s someone who’s cute because they look like you.
Also the way Lorraine handles herself around Marty (ie: over the top attracted to him, pushing him into a chair next to her, being so shocked by him showing up at school she falls back into her locker) makes me think she may be REALLY sexually repressed. Like, unhealthily so. Freaking 50s, man.
34) And there’s only one way Doc Brown could possibly open a door: looking like this.
35) A fun fact about this line:
Doc: “Then tell me, future boy: who’s president of the United States in 1985.”
Marty: “Ronald Reagan.”
Doc: “Ronald Reagan!? The actor!?”
President Reagan loved that line so much he asked the projectionist to play it again, and even used the quote, “Where we’re going we don’t need roads,” in his 1986 State of the Union address. I miss having a President who was secure like that.
36) Me too Marty. Me too.
Doc [after hearing they need 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to get the DeLorean to work]: “1.21 GIGAWATTS!? 1.21 GIGAWATTS! GREAT SCOTT!”
Also, did you notice that this is my 121st Epic Movie (Re)Watch? As in 121. As in 1.21? ;)
37) Roll credits!
Doc: “Next Saturday night, we’re sending you back TO THE FUTURE!”
38) Doc’s bemusement at Marty’s slang is so great to me. It feeds into his idea about what the future will be like.
Doc: “Why is everything so heavy in the future, is there a problem with the earth’s gravitational pull?”
39) I never got why Strickland called George a slacker for being bullied but he never calls out the bullies. Granted this has been happening in schools all across America for years now and I don’t get that either.
40) Remember how I said Lorraine’s marriage to George was unhappy?
Doc [about Marty’s parents]: “What are their common interests? What do they like to do together?
Marty [after a beat]: “Nothing.”
41) The idea of this being a boy who gets to know his parents really comes through when Marty learns that George writes sci-fi stories but doesn’t share them with anyone for fear or rejection. In the original timeline, did George keep writing sci-fi as an adult? Did Lorraine know? Did he tell ANYBODY and get rejected and that just made him stop writing? I have so many questions!
42) Thomas F. Wilson improvised this iconic line of Biff’s:
43) According to IMDb:
Universal Pictures head Sid Sheinberg did not like the title “Back to the Future", insisting that nobody would see a movie with “future” in the title. In a memo to Robert Zemeckis, he said that the title should be changed to “Spaceman From Pluto”, tying in with the Marty-as-alien jokes in the film, and also suggested further changes like replacing the “I’m Darth Vader from planet Vulcan” line with “I am a spaceman from Pluto!” Sheinberg was persuaded to change his mind by a response memo from Steven Spielberg, which thanked him for sending a wonderful “joke memo”, and that everyone got a kick out of it. Sheinberg, too proud to admit he was serious, gave in to letting the film retain its title.
44) George is absolutely hysterical in the diner scene.
DUDE YOU’RE A WRITER!!! DID YOU REALLY THINK THAT’S WHAT YOU WROTE DOWN!?!?!?
45) When Marty is confronting Biff at the bar and then in the skateboard chase around town, he plays it smart not tough. He distracts Biff before his one punch of the big brute and then maneuvers him around town in a way that’ll be beneficial to the young time traveler. It’s another excellent action scene which keeps you riveted at every turn.
46) There are probably so many GIFs out there of just Doc Brown reacting. This is one of my favorites:
47) Marty and his mother don’t get to know each other as well as George and Marty do, primarily because she’s trying to seduce him during his entire stay in 1955. But the scenes of George and Marty together as friends are great.
48) Also this line is attributed to Doc in the beginning of the film but we never hear him say it. Jennifer says it to Marty, Marty to George, and then George to Marty in the future.
49) Doc and Marty’s friendship in this film is great, as Marty is trying desperately to save Doc’s life in the future despite Doc not wanting to know. Marty respects Doc’s wishes but will be damned if he does nothing (hence the letter). Their friendship is developed as the trilogy progresses but it starts out strong.
50) Marty tries to prevent Lorraine’s alcoholism by keeping her from drinking when she’s 17. I appreciate that.
50.1) One of the best bloopers ever.
51) (Trigger Warning For This Note: RAPE) Okay, I love this movie but as I grow older I find that it kind of glosses over the fact that Biff is trying to RAPE Lorraine. And later in 1985 she’s totally fine having her attempted rapist come by their place regularly to wax their cars. Like…that’s super weird.
52) I always felt this scene could have either gone two ways: George becomes a self confident hero, or George becomes Norman Bates.
That’s like a really murdery face.
53) This is a very Hitchockian rule: it’s never over when you think it’s over. George punched out the bad guy and he’s going to the dance with Lorraine. All’s well right!? Well…no. Marty has to play guitar otherwise it’ll all go to shit. Marty, who’s super self conscious about rejection when it comes to playing guitar.
54) Johnny B. Goode!
The filmmakers described this scene as Marty’s victory lap. He just got his parents together! He’s playing the school dance! He’s going to go back to the future tonight! He’s going to have fun, and that’s what the number is. It doesn’t feel superfluous or unnecessary, it adds to the heart and excitement of the film. It’s amazing!
55) According to IMDb:
In the original script, Marty’s playing rock and roll at the dance caused a riot which had to be broken up by police. This, combined with Marty accidentally tipping Doc off to the “secret ingredient” that made the time machine work (Coca-Cola) caused history to change. When Marty got back to the 1980s, he found that it was now the 1950s conception of that decade, with air-cars and what-not (all invented by Doc Brown and running on Coca-Cola). Marty also discovers that rock and roll was never invented, and he dedicates himself to starting the delayed cultural revolution. Meanwhile, his dad digs out the newspaper from the day after the dance and sees his son in the picture of the riot.
I don’t know how accurate that is but it’s fun to think about!
56) Not only am I going to include this next quote, but I’m also going to include what I said the first time I watched this movie with my family.
Doc [waiting for Marty to show up]: “Damn where is that kid?”
Doc [waiting, then checking watch]: “Damn.”
Me [with my family]: “Man, there’s a lot of swearing in this movie.”
Doc [checking his watch again]: “DAMN DAMN!”
That scene is so much funnier to me now just because of that instance.
57) The Clock Tower Climax is spectacular and it follows an age old rule of conflict: everything that can go wrong does go wrong. The cable comes undone, the car won’t start, Doc falls off the ledge (remember that foreshadowing I mentioned in point #2?), the cable is stuck on a tree, all while the clock is literally ticking away at their once chance to get this. It is glorious, and using the clock tower just reinforces the idea of time in the film (it was originally going to be a nuclear test site, à la Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) but they went for this iconic scene instead. Thank you filmmakers. Thank you.
58) Remember how the mall was called Twin Pine Mall in the beginning of the movie, and then when Marty went back in time he killed one of Peabody’s pines? Well when he goes back to the future something is a little different.
59) So now that Lorraine and George are happily married and George pursued his writing career, they family is like upper middle class (I don’t think they’re upper class). Crisping Glover did not like the fact that the films ending directly tied together money and happiness.
60) This film’s iconic ending was originally NOT meant to set up a sequel, but instead just tell the audience that the adventure kept going. Of course Robert Zemeckis and writing partner Bob Gale would return and finish what ended up being a trilogy in 1989 and 1990. But until then we have this perfect finishing line.
If my love for Back to the Future isn’t clear after the sixty notes you just read, let me reiterate: I freaking love this film. I love everything about it. I love the acting, the story, the direction, the music, the heart, the humor, the visuals, the themes, I love it all. I can’t imagine it not being my favorite film ever. Everyone needs to watch it as soon as possible. Seriously, everyone.
Epic Movie (Re)Watch #122 - Back to the Future Part II
Have I seen it before: Yes
Did I like it then: Yes!
Do I remember it: Yes.
Did I see it in theaters: Yes.
Was it a movie I saw since August 22nd, 2009: Yes. #384.
0) I’m expecting this to be notably shorter than my 60 note recap for Back to the Future. And it’s not that I don’t enjoy this film (in fact I love the entire trilogy with every beat of my heart), but the first one is definitely my favorite and I talked a lot about writing and characterization which carried on into this film so there’s no point in my talking about it again.
1) The entire opening scene (which is almost a shot for shot remake of the previous film’s final scene) was reshoot for this movie. The reason for that was two fold: one, when Marty asks Doc if he and Jennifer are, “assholes or something,” Doc hesitates implying something is wrong. He did not do this in the last film. And then we have Elisabeth Shue as Jennifer, replacing Claudia Wells.
Claudia Wells had retired from acting at the time to take care of her mother, but would reprise her role of Jennifer in the Telltale Back to the Future video game.
2) One of the best things about this movie is the predictions it makes about 2015. Some things came true:
Power lace shoes.
Hover boards exist as they do in the film, they’re just not for mass purchase.
Wireless video games.
Wall mounted flat screen TVS that have picture-in-picture.
Of course we don’t have flying cars, but I have a theory that the reason Back to the Future 2015 is so futuristic is because of the inventions of Doc Brown. That may not make the most sense, but I’m sticking with it!
Marty [after Doc knocks out Jennifer]: “Then what’d you bring her for!?”
Robert Zemeckis said that if he and Bob Gale had known they were going to make a sequel, they wouldn’t have ended the first one by having her in the car. Hence the fact her role in this film is pretty small.
4) Doc’s “rejuvenation” was written in so Christopher Lloyd wouldn’t have to keep wearing the old age makeup since we were dealing with 1955 Doc Brown, not 1985 Doc Brown.
5) There are so many things I love about this one joke:
First is the fact that it’d directed by Max Spielberg, who’s actually Steven Spielberg’s son. The second is that the shark still looks fake. The third is that it makes fun of the oft popular 80s tagline, “This time it’s personal,” with, “This time it’s really REALLY personal.” The third is that for the one day rerelease in theaters, Universal made a fake ad for Jaws 19 and well…
And then the last thing I love about this is you can easily replace Jaws 19 with Star Wars: Episode VII and have it be accurate to real 2015.
6) Between Back to the Future and Part II Robert Zemeckis also directed Who Framed Roger Rabbit. So of course we get a cameo of sorts:
7) So apparently between becoming a total wimp and seniority, Biff regressed into being a total tool again.
He probably never really changed. He was just a jerk to people he felt he could be.
8) I mentioned during my Who Framed Roger Rabbit recap that many Robert Zemeckis films really push special effects to new heights, and Back to the Future Part II is probably the best example of that. Primarily, in how you have one actor play multiple characters often in the same scene. This is first seen when Biff and Griff (both played by Thomas F. Wilson) are in the diner, but I’ll talk about it probably a few more times before this recap is done.
Also I would like to say how underrated Thomas F. Wilson is in this film (and then I’ll say it again in Part III) he plays all his characters (2015 Biff, Griff, 1955 Biff, Hell Valley Biff) in unique enough ways where it doesn’t feel like you’re watching an actor play against himself but also you understand that these characters (except for Griff) are all the same person! It’s great.
10) I will go into more detail about Michael J. Fox’s skill at playing multiple characters but I just love how dopey he is as Marty Jr. Like, yes we know it’s Michael J. Fox and he looks exactly like Marty, but this is NOTHING like Marty McFly and he’s hysterical in the part.
A lot of the new characters we meet in 2015 are played as over the top and sort of cartoonish, which is a lot of fun to watch and works because of the sci-fi setting. Wilson gets to have a lot of fun as an even more stereotypical tough guy bully than Biff in his grandson Griff. Again, you don’t feel like you’re watching Thomas F. Wilson. Except in appearance and career as a bully, you don’t feel like it’s Biff. It’s Griff, an entirely new character who is similar to his grandfather but not a duplicate.
Also I have a fan theory about Griff: we never learn his last name, and we never meet his parent/Biff’s offspring. First of all, who would ever have a kid with Biff Tannen? Ew. Second of all: I like to think that Biff had a daughter and that’s why we never hear Griff’s last name (because he has his father’s name). There’s probably something out there disproving this theory but I personally love it.
12) Marty’s Achilles heel: being called chicken.
(GIF source unknown [if this is your GIF please let me know].)
I often hear criticism about how Marty’s issue with being called a chicken was never a feature in the first film, but honestly that’s because the filmmaker didn’t intend this to be a trilogy at the time. Also there was never really a time when anyone had to call Marty a chicken, and now people do. So I’m okay with it’s lack of appearance in the first film/importance in the sequels.
Also, I wasn’t alive in the 80s: was calling people a chicken an insult adults actually used? Because these days isn’t it mostly kids?
13) There is a common theme in both Part II and Part III which is this: history repeats itself.
Key sequences from the first film repeat themselves throughout the trilogy:
The skateboard chase is recreated.
“Mom is that you?”
Marty’s wanderings through whatever Hill Valley he’s in.
There are some other recurring “gags” that lend to the idea that history repeats itself, but it is a clever concept to use in a time travel movie which I greatly appreciate.
14) The hover board chase.
The hover board scene is marked mostly by its creativity. It’s not necessarily as nail bitting or tense as the skateboard chase from the first film, but it’s just as memorable for different reasons. Marty is the fish out of water now who doesn’t really know how this thing works, which is a situation he’s not in often. And getting to play around with the mechanics of the hover board on screen (as well as the fact that the hover board is a key item later in this film and its sequel) makes it all wildly memorable. A truly fun sequence through and through.
15) The guy who asks Marty for donation money in 2015 is the voice actor of Roger Rabbit and Benny the Cab from Zemeckis’ earlier work Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
16) Back to the Future Part II made a prediction that the Cubs would win the World Series in 2015.
The scary thing was, that year the Cubs came closer to winning the world series than they ever had in the century before. This is where it gets weird though: the Cubs lost their chance to win the World Series on October 21, 2015 (the same day Marty goes to visit in this film). How do I know that? Well on 10/21/2015 my local AMC played all three movies back-to-back-to-back in theaters and on the way out me and my friend asked some people if the Cubs had won the game that night and they lost. So yeah, freaky.
That’s okay, they won the next year. And where Back to the Future was wrong, “Parks and Rec” was right!
Again, this is an instance where Fox is EXCELLENT playing another character. I mean, I KNOW it’s Michael J. Fox, but I have to remind myself it’s Michael J. Fox when watching the movie. He carries himself in such a way that’s very non-Michael J. Fox, and that voice! A part of me is CONVINCED that his voice was re-dubbed in post by someone who could sound more like a girl, but I haven’t seen anything proving that so if that is Fox’s voice I am incredibly impressed.
18) Originally Crispin Glover, George McFly from the original film, was meant to play Marlene as well as reprise his character from the first film. According to IMDb:
The principal actors had committed to the sequels before any scripts were written. However, there was a stumbling block in negotiations with Crispin Glover (George McFly in Back to the Future (1985)), who stated that he was offered a monetary amount less than half of what Lea Thompson and Thomas F. Wilson were being paid to return. Crispin believed this was due to producer Bob Gale taking exception to Crispin voicing his disapproval of the original ending of the first film (where the McFlys viewed money and material possessions as rewards), causing a script change. During sequel negotiations, Crispin’s agent expressed to producers that Crispin wanted fair compensation, in addition to a script approval clause in his contract. Bob Gale refused to give in to either of these requests, instead offering a lower salary amount than the first offer. After Crispin turned down the lowball offer of $125,000, Gale rewrote the sequel script to lessen George McFly’s screen time. Jeffrey Weissman was cast as George and, using molds of Crispin made on the set of the first film, was dressed in facial prosthetics to look like Crispin so that they could incorporate excerpts from the original movie. All shots of Weissman either show him from behind, at a distance, upside down or with sunglasses, in effect, fooling audiences into believing that Crispin had taken part in the sequel.
Crispin Glover sued the filmmakers, as he had not granted permission to use his likeness in Part II. Crispin’s suit named John Doe 1-100 as defendants, where he did not have to name all of the individuals he was suing. Crispin ended up dropping the lawsuit after the case was settled out of court for $765,000 by Universal’s insurance company, who decided it would be cheaper to pay Crispin than to actually go to trial. The Screen Actors Guild subsequently introduced new rules about illicit use of actors.
19) Okay, Michael J. Fox is incredible as all his characters in one scene: 2015 Marty, Marty Jr, and Marlene McFly.
It shows off not only his ability as an actor but also the incredible special effects in the film. You can’t really see the seams when they’re all sitting around the dinner table again in the final film, it’s amazing! It is totally effortless, you’re never taken out of the story and that is why it works so well. For godsake, he pours himself a drink!
20) So old Biff gets in the DeLorean and goes back in time to give himself future info to make money. Except how did Biff know how to use the DeLorean? Well, in 2015 IDW started running a Back to the Future comic co-written by series co-writer Bob Gale. The first five issues are meant to be canon I believe, being anthology pieces which fill in the blanks on certain story elements (how did Doc and Marty meet, why did the Brown Mansion burn down, etc.) and in there it shows that Biff didn’t REALLY know how to work the DeLorean. Before he made it back to 1955 he went to the Cretaceous period and ran into some velociraptors.
(GIF source unknown [if this is your GIF please let me know].)
21) I’m still baffled as to why Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers was cast in what is basically a glorified cameo in both Part II and Part III. Is there a story out there of how that came to be? Did he just really like the first film? WHY IS IT HIM!?
22) You know what the most ridiculous thing this film shows in 2015? It’s not the flying cars or the Cafe 80s. No, what it really is was that they thought we’d still have fax.
(GIF source unknown [if this is your GIF please let me know].)
23) So Biff gets back from 1955 and is clutching himself as he falls out of the DeLorean, in pain. Well a deleted scene shows him fade away, much like Marty did at the school dance in the original film. I think it was Bob Gale or Robert Zemeckis who said on a DVD commentary thing that this was born out of the idea that 1985A (Hell Valley) Lorraine eventually shot and killed Biff, so 2015 Biff never existed. Nice to know 1985A Biff got what he deserved.
24) Mr. Strickland is never featured prominently in the films, but nothing makes me laugh quite as hard as his exclamation of, “Eat lead, slackers!” in Hell Valley.
25) As Marty is at the Biff Tannen museum and learns how Biff made his millions, there’s a brief picture of his ancestor Mad Dog Tannen who is the bad guy in the next film. The actor in the photo is NOT Thomas F. Wilson, he played Mad Dog in Part III. Instead it is a costume test photo.
26) This is a joke I didn’t hear the first time I saw the film.
Match [Biff’s goon, as he and the others hold Marty]: “Son, we could do this the easy way or the hard way.”
[One of the goons hits Marty over the head, causing him to black out]
Disembodied Voice: “The easy way.”
27) Also why do Biff’s 2015A goons look like Ron Burgundy’s News Team?
You can never un-see that.
28) So apparently when Biff has money and power, he’s not just a high school jerk but like a REAL bad guy!
I mean I guess I shouldn’t be surprised considering some of the shit he did in the first film, but this is like a whole new level. He’s abusive, murderous, corrupt, slimy, and still a total coward (only punching Marty when he’s held back by his goons). Thomas F. Wilson ditches the laughs for a truly frightening bad guy. And considering certain world leaders out there who look and act in similar ways, he’s even scarier in 2017 than he should be.
29) These lines piss me off to no degree.
Lorraine [after Biff beats on her and forces her to stay with him, threatening her kids]: “He was right and I was wrong.”
Lorraine [in the same scene]: “I had it coming.”
NO HE’S NOT AND NO YOU FREAKING DIDN’T!!!! YOU DID NOTHING WRONG LORRAINE!!! DON’T TELL YOURSELF THAT!!! EVER!!! PLEASE!!! YOU DESERVE BETTER!!!
30) Just like how the original film featured exposition which was slick and simple, this film does the same thing. This is most visible when Doc is explaining to Marty how alternate timelines work. It is not too complicated and the visual aid really helps the audience understand what is going on.
31) You know what a which headline on that newspaper is scarier than Doc going to jail? Especially in 2017 considering the current state of politics?
“Nixon To Seek Fifth Term.”
32) This movie has A LOT of foreshadowing to the next one. Doc saying he wanted to visit the old west, Doc saying he wants to figure out women, Mad Dog Tannen, Wild Gunman, and even the Clint Eastwood movie Biff and his ladies are watching is directly paralleled in Part III.
33) Marty’s not going to let Biff get away with his bullshit (literally).
Marty [after Biff claims he crashed his car in a drag race]: “I thought you crashed into a manure truck.”
34) I feel like if you’ve seen this movie, you have to agree with one of these two possibilities:
Doc [after learning Biff gave the book to his younger self on November 12, 1955]: “Unbelievable. That old Biff could have chosen that particular date. It could mean that that point in time inherently contains some sort of cosmic significance. Almost as if it were the temporal junction point for the entire space-time continuum. On the other hand, it could just be an amazing coincidence.”
I like the idea that it’s a temporal junction, but also that’s just more interesting to me.
35) This film’s entire third act is what makes it as great as it does. It is insanely clever and brilliantly done. How many sequels can go back and look at their predecessor again from a different perspective in such a literal sense. We get little things filled in, everything becomes a bit deeper, and it’s all just fascinating to witness.
36) Remember how Charles Fleischer played the guy asking for charity money in 2015. Well he’s in 1955 too as the guy who worked on Biff’s car:
I love continuity.
37) It is so satisfying to watch Lorraine kick Biff away and beat him over the head with a box. I needed that.
38) Old Biff & Young Biff.
You can see the seams a little more easily here than at the dinner table from before, but it’s still great. As I mentioned before, Thomas F. Wilson does a fantastic job here. You never feel like he’s playing off empty space (which he had to when shooting): he is reacting just as honestly to scenes he shot already/would shoot later as he would if it were Michael J. Fox sitting next to him. And that, plus the effects, is what makes the scene appear so effortless. That is why we believe it.
38.5) It’s also worth noting that Old Biff clearly has some self loathing issues (smacking Young Biff on the head when he says, “Make like a tree and get out of here,” and constantly calling him an idiot) and that he appears to be more competent about handling the book than Young Biff was.
39) It is so cool to see Doc stumble upon the “weather experiment” from the first film because remember: whereas it’s only been a day for Marty, it has been 30 years for Doc! Talk about your nostalgia trip.
Also according to IMDb:
In this movie a disguised “1985 Doc Brown” holds a conversation with his 1955 counterpart. 1985 Doc is wearing a brown trench coat and hat. If you look carefully in Back to the Future (1985), you can see a man dressed exactly like this (and therefore, presumably Doc) walking away shortly before the clock-tower scene. In the DVD commentary it is explained that this was not intentional, as the script for Back to the Future Part II (1989) hadn’t even been written at the time that they filmed the first one.
I still love that.
40) In this film we see that Biff spikes the punch at the dance with booze. In the original film we see George McFly drinking the punch, and then he’s suddenly very courageous about punching Biff. Hmmm….
41) Dude, Strickland freaking shoves students around. If I had this guy in my high school I would’ve had more than a freaking attitude problem.
42) When Part II Marty is sneaking past the car that first film Marty is in with his mom, we hear Lorraine make a comment about how when she’s an adult she’ll let her kids do whatever they want.
Part 1 Marty: “I’d like to see that in writing.”
Part 2 Marty: “Yeah, me too.”
I’m like 95% sure this was a line cut from the first film but could be wrong.
43) Not only was the opening scene for the movie reshoot, but so was Johnny B. Goode.
Fox said the end slide was much harder on his knees after aging another four years.
44) Damn, Marty just gets NAILED by that door!
Every time I see that I literally saw, “ouch,” out loud.
45) The entire scene where Marty is on the hover board, sneaking around Biff’s moving car, trying to get the sports almanac back works well with the idea that tension comes from slowing things down not speeding them up. Marty takes his time not to be seen by Biff or fall off the car, and we’re riveted and nervous the entire time its going on. It is one of the more under sung parts of the trilogy which deserves more recognition I think.
46) Those brief moment when we all thought Doc Brown was dead.
There is no topping the ending to the original Back to the Future, but you also don’t need to. The ending to this film, with Marty receiving the surprise letter from the past, is iconic in its own right and is absolutely an unexpected twist. The beauty of time travel, excellent writing, and the fact that we’re doing a sequel!
48) And then we get this:
Marty [confronting 1955 Doc for help]: “I’m back. I’m back from the future!”
49) This movie was the first time a trailer for a sequel debuted at the end of its predecessor, and that’s because it was also the first time a movie and its sequel were filmed simultaneously. This was a trend that would be repeated in Pirates of the Caribbean, The Matrix, and the upcoming two Avengers films. It just meant we got the next Back to the Future all the sooner!
Even though it may objectively not be as well done as its predecessor, it doesn’t make sense to call Back to the Future II worse than what came before. Because it doesn’t FEEL like a sequel! It feels like an extension of the first film in the purest sense. Everything you loved about the first film is back (unless you loved Crispin Glover): the wonderful acting, heart, relationships, effects, music, sci-fi, writing, surprises, it is all back in top form and will be back again one more time in Part III. So don’t just stop with Back to the Future! I beg you, continue!
He had thought Shiloh haunted, its beauty sinister like flags.
Now, drifting between memory and narcotic sleep, he saw that Shiloh was not sinister; it was indifferent. Beautiful Shiloh could witness anything. Its unforgivable beauty simply underscored the indifference of nature, the Green Machine. The loveliness of Shiloh mocked our plight.
He roused and watched the mindless clock, but he couldn’t stop thinking:
In the Green Machine there is no mercy; we make mercy, manufacture it in the parts that have overgrown our basic reptile brain.
There is no murder. We make murder, and it matters only to us.
Graham knew too well that he contained all the elements to make murder; perhaps mercy too.
He understood murder uncomfortably well, though.
He wondered if, in the great body of humankind, in the minds of men set on civilization, the vicious urges we control in ourselves and the dark instinctive knowledge of those urges function like the crippled virus the body arms against.
He wondered if old, awful urges are the virus that make vaccine.
Yes, he had been wrong about Shiloh. Shiloh isn’t haunted–men are haunted.
Shiloh doesn’t care.
“ He would like to meet Lecter, talk and share with him, rejoice with him in their shared vision, be recognized by him as John the Baptist recognized the One who came after, sit on him as the Dragon sat on 666 in Blake’s Revelation series, and film his death as, dying, he melded with the strength of the Dragon. “