RogerBW's Blog

Back to the Future Part II 06 March 2022

1989 science fiction/comedy, dir. Robert Zemeckis, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd: IMDb / allmovie. We've got to do something about your kids!

The original film was a complete story; but it made lots of money, so there had to be a sequel. Which is where Zemeckis and Gale regretted putting Jennifer in the car at the end of the first film: they simply couldn't think of anything for her to do in the future (except for very briefly meeting her older self and returning to the state of unconsciousness in which she spends most of her time). "Don't worry, she's not essential to my plan."

Some things work; others don't. Yes, this starts off as the same skate chase sequence as before, but it shifts: Marty can't escape by simply doing the same things as before. But then the embarrassment of 2015 recapitulates the embarrassment of 1985, in a way that devalues the gains of the earlier film. You already had one miracle making your life better, which is one more than most people get; that wasn't enough for you? ("Can't bear to be thought a coward" is at least a character trait, though one feels that it comes out of nowhere, and of course it doesn't pay off until part 3.)

I'm not usually especially sensitive to the standard three-act structure of feature films, but perhaps because the transitions are so clearly signalled I found it quite obvious here: 2015 (the café, the chase, the house), bad 1985, and 1955.

This is the film that got a bad reputation for having a complicated plot, and that was the part I liked best. Yes, some of the details are still left flapping in the breeze, but the way the 1955 section wraps round events with which we're already familiar and tries not to disturb them is just great fun, and not something I often see in time travel stories – much more often they take the easy way out and use time travel primarily as a way to get to where the adventure is going to happen (as, for example, the first and third films mostly do).

Why Biff doesn't simply beat up George the next day, though… well.

(That third act wasn't the sequence that forced ILM to try digital compositing for the first time; that was the domestic triple role for Fox as young Marty, middle-aged Marty, and Marlene.)

It works very well, but of course it is only half a film.

More of my witterings can be had at Ribbon of Memes.

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1