Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Guest Review: Back to the Future Part II (1989)

By ScottDS
Ah, there’s nothing like the Back to the Future trilogy. These films are staples of my childhood and I still watch them every couple of months. Funnily enough, I originally saw them in reverse order but by the time I got to the first film, everything made sense. While the original 1985 film is rightfully considered a modern masterpiece – the perfect alchemy of characterization, smart writing, and summer spectacle – the sequels continue to get a mixed reaction. Some folks love the second film and hate the third and vice versa. Me? I love ’em both... but I give a slight edge to Part II.

We pick up with Marty (Michael J. Fox) and Jennifer (Elizabeth Shue replacing Claudia Wells) about to share a kiss when Doc (Christopher Lloyd) suddenly pulls up in the DeLorean. Clad in a futuristic raincoat and transparent necktie (which I love), Doc tells the two lovebirds that the future of their future family is at stake: “It’s your kids, Marty!” The car takes off to the rainy skies of 2015 where it turns out that Marty Jr. will get involved with some local thugs led by Griff (Thomas F. Wilson), the cybernetically-enhanced grandson of Marty’s nemesis Biff. This event will cause a chain reaction that will destroy the McFly family, so Marty takes the place of his future son so he can refuse Griff’s invitation. After an exciting hoverboard chase (sorry, they’re not real!), Marty purchases a copy of Gray’s Sports Almanac, which includes sports scores for the latter half of the twentieth century. He intends to place a few bets but Doc is horrified by this, explaining that the purpose of time travel is not to win at gambling. Meanwhile, the police have picked up Jennifer (who was left by Doc and Marty, unconscious, in an alley) and take her home – her future home. Marty and Doc pursue, but Old Biff gets his hands on the almanac (which Doc had thrown out) and follows them.
Doc and Marty eventually pick up Jennifer, who’d fainted after encountering her future self. They make it back to 1985 but some things have changed. The neighborhood looks like a demilitarized zone, a different family lives in the McFly house, and there’s now a gaudy skyscraper in the middle of town, owned by Biff! We learn that Marty’s dad is dead and his mother (Lea Thompson) is married to Biff - now a corrupt multimillionaire - instead. Doc realizes that Old Biff must’ve stolen the DeLorean while they were rescuing Jennifer in the future and given the almanac to himself at some point in the past: November 12th, 1955 to be exact – the date that Marty went back to the future in the first film. They travel back to 1955 where Marty eventually trails Biff to the school dance. After several run-ins with Biff, Biff’s goons, and a car/hoverboard chase, Marty destroys the almanac, causing the future to return to normal. However, the DeLorean is struck by lightning, zapping Doc back to 1885. After a Western Union man (Joe Flaherty in a fun cameo) shows up with a telegram – written by Doc in the past – Marty realizes there’s only one man who can help him: 1955 Doc. “To Be Concluded...”

Man, that was confusing to write! You can't imagine how confused I was after watching this film. I had just seen the third film yet it didn’t occur to me to rent the first film and work my way forwards. Instead, I rented this film and worked my way backwards. I’ve always been a fan. I love what they came up with for 2015, from flying cars to hoverboards to some of the more ridiculous fashions. God, 2015 seems so close now, doesn’t it? Of course, some of it is pretty dated now, too. The movie is a lot of fun just like a good 80s summer movie should be, though it’s also very dark. The alternate 1985 scenes almost come across as something shot for another film entirely. Director Robert Zemeckis rightfully compares this film to It’s a Wonderful Life and alternate 1985 to Pottersville. Oh, and I love the central gimmick: the idea of going back and revisiting the first film from a new perspective. I imagine it takes most people a few viewings to soak it all in and get all the subtle connections. ILM’s Oscar-nominated visual effects are 98% top-notch, along with the other various technical details. Christopher Lloyd is excellent as usual and both Michael J. Fox and Lea Thompson (mostly) do a good job playing various generations of their characters. Tom Wilson gives an absolute tour-de-force performance as alternate 1985 Biff, who’s just a total psychopath.
[Sigh] However, the film is definitely flawed, and repeat viewings haven’t helped one bit. When I said Fox and Thompson mostly do a good job, I meant that their acting in 1955/1985 is fine but 2015 is a different story. Fox plays future Marty (who’s only in his late 40s) like he’s at least twenty years older and Thompson does the same with old Lorraine. The make-up effects guys, who did such a great job on the first film, don’t help them – the old-age make-up is cranked up to 11 and it just becomes a distraction. Then there are the usual plot holes inherent to any time travel story. I could go on ad infinitum but the few issues that have always stuck with me are: 1.) When Old Biff comes back to 2015 with the DeLorean, shouldn’t it be an alternate 2015? (The filmmakers speculate that the infamous “ripple effect” may not have happened yet.) 2.) When Marty and Doc leave 2015 for 1985, they don’t notice that the “last time departed” display on the time circuits reads 1955. 3.) All of a sudden, the time circuits are malfunctioning, causing the 1885 date to appear out of nowhere. There are several deux ex machina moments, not to mention Marty goes from smart to stupid to smart again, sometimes in the span of one scene.

To be fair, the development and production of this film was quite hectic. The ending of the first film was done as a joke – there was never a sequel planned, and the words “To Be Continued” were added for subsequent video releases. After all, says Robert Zemeckis, if they’d planned for a sequel, they never would’ve put Jennifer in the car! The original idea involved Marty and Doc going back to the 60s where Marty endangers his own conception. There would be hippies and flower power and protests, etc. However, this idea felt like too much of a retread and Zemeckis and co-writer/producer Bob Gale hit upon the idea of going back to the first film, which is what really sets this film apart in my opinion. I can’t even begin to imagine the logistical nightmare this entailed, from recreating sets and wardrobe, to scheduling and continuity. This film was originally written as one long movie with a fourth act set in 1885 but the studio took the bold move (now commonplace) to split it in half and shoot two movies simultaneously.
However, this leads me to what I think is the film’s biggest problem: Marty’s Achilles’ heal. Apparently, he hates it whenever people call him “chicken.” Fair enough, but since a sequel was never planned, the filmmakers never thought to set this up in the first film… and since this film ends on a cliffhanger, it doesn’t get resolved until the next film. In 2015, we meet future Marty’s boss (played by Flea of all people, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers), who involves Marty in some kind of shady business deal. None of this works on its own and it’s not until the last five minutes of the third film when it’s all resolved. The problem that Gale and Zemeckis faced was this: in the first film, Marty doesn’t change – his dad does. For the sequel, Marty would have to change, but it’s introduced in a somewhat awkward fashion, and if it wasn’t for this whole “chicken” thing, the movie could’ve been wrapped up in 20 minutes! Speaking of Marty’s dad, the reason why he doesn’t play a more prominent role in this film is because a deal with Crispin Glover couldn’t be made. That’s actor Jeffrey Weissman as future George McFly, where the make-up (and futuristic upside-down back brace) help disguise him.

At the end of the day, I find this film endlessly fascinating. Even now, there are so many little details to pick up on. The Café 80s scene in 2015 is pretty fun with the Max Headroom-style “Ronald Reagan” and “Ayatollah” video waiters and a young Elijah Wood (in his film debut!) who’s disappointed that an arcade game requires actual tactile contact. A few of the split-screen shots with multiple actors don’t hold up but many of them do, including a dinner table scene with Michael J. Fox playing three roles. Robert Zemeckis says this might be his most interesting movie and I’m inclined to agree. I look forward to showing these films to my future kid(s) – they still manage to hold up after all these years, and that’s the true test of any film’s success. “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

(Ironically, I had intended to review both II and III in one article but the first part got too long, so, just like the filmmakers did, I’m splitting this in two. Find out why I prefer this film to the third one on Friday.)

To Be Concluded...

65 comments:

ScottDS said...

It turns out I'm needed elsewhere so I'll be back in a few hours. :-)

Tennessee Jed said...

I saw all three of these, and liked them for what they were; harmless fun and good summer movie fare that didn't try and hit you over the head with a message. The fact that I cannot determine the storyline of this trilogy compared to knowing virtually every line of dialogue from the Godfather I-III probably is a dead giveaway as to which I considered the more important. And that is not meant to denigrate these films. They were hugely popular, reasonably well crafted films, but I will always go back to The Godfather every few years. Of Back to the Future, I probably saw the original 2 or 3 times over the years. The other two, maybe once with a partial on t.v. That also is just a genre preference I suspect.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Thanks for the review! I'll be back soon to share some thoughts on these films.

Individualist said...

These films were a lot of fun and the Flux capacitor will be forever added to the American Lexicon.

I liked all the films but the Old west one was the better of the two in my opinion.

tryanmax said...

This is totally random, but when I was in college, I had a roomie who would take a Sharpie and randomly write "time machine" on my things. I retorted by writing "flux capacitor" on his things. The situation reached a head when my SNES was defaced with a crudely drawn digital speedometer set at 88 MPH.

ScottDS said...

Jed -

Different strokes for different folks. :-)

For 20-something geeks like me, Back to the Future might as well be a holy book or something. It's a modern classic, and at this point, when more and more movies are released that are totally forgettable (there are, of course, exceptions), it's nice to revisit something that stands the test of time.

I was also remarking to a friend recently that, with age comes wisdom (even for me), and this review is something I could NOT have written just five years ago. But there are always new things to discover and, as you'll see in the next review, new epiphanies to have.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

No rush!

ScottDS said...

Indi -

Yeah... flux capacitor, jigawatt (or however it's spelled)... even real terms I can't separate from these films, like clocktower, or Pepsi Free.

As you'll see in Friday's review, I prefer this film to the third film but it only recently hit me as to why that is. (And I do like the third film; there's just for me to chew on with the second film.)

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

I see I wasn't the only one who had roommate trouble in college. :-)

(Actually, he was okay; it was the neighbors next door who were total dicks.)

T-Rav said...

Scott and tryanmax, I had multiple issues with my roommates my first two years in college. One was just oblivious and annoying, the other I occasionally fantasized about beating up. Yes, I'm a violent person.

tryanmax said...

"Timemachine" was a great roomie compared to the guy who was into Nelly Furtado and snuff films.

This is the world in which we live.

K said...

I was always impressed with the BTTF franchise in terms of writing, but as movies they left me rather "meh". Perhaps using BTTF3 as an anti-handgun teen morality play had something to do with it.

T-Rav said...

I'll happily watch any of the Back to the Future movies. Certainly the sequels didn't live up to the original, though I can't say which I prefer. The second one was pretty good in many respects, though at times it felt like they were trying to milk the value of the original to prop it up. But for the most part, it was good.

ScottDS said...

K -

using BTTF3 as an anti-handgun teen morality play

Huh? I didn't get that vibe at all. In fact, I was just saying to a friend that, watching the film now, the anti-gun people would probably be dismayed by two things:

a.) showing a kid with a gun near the end ("Mr. Eastwood, here's your gun, mister!")

b.) Marshall Strickland makes everyone give up their sidearm at the town festival, but Mad Dog manages to sneak one in anyway, which only proves that an armed populace is a safe one

ScottDS said...

T-Rav -

Re: college, I sympathize!

Re: the films, yeah, I'm not saying the sequels are better than the originals and like I said in the opening, it amazes me that II and III get such wildly diverse reactions from people.

As for milking the value of the original, the studio was going to make a sequel whether Gale and Zemeckis were involved or not. And since they never planned for one (while ending the first film with a fake cliffhanger), they had to reverse engineer some stuff.

T-Rav said...

Scott, I actually think that in some ways, Parts II and III are examples of how you should do a sequel--or at least a non-multi-part-epic kind of sequel. There's no huge betrayals of the characters or the plotlines in the movies, they avoid getting too campy, but still manage to be a lot of fun. You don't need to watch them after you've seen the original, but you can still have a good time if you do watch them. Not bad, all things considered.

TJ said...

Interesting review Scott - I have to admit, though, I like III better than II. I felt II had too much "stuff" and was hard to follow and I really get into time travel movies (probably my favorite genre). Plus I'm a sucker for westerns.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, A few years ago, I would have said that I prefer three to two because three is admittedly the better film. But honestly, I enjoy the story of two better than three, so I also give a slight edge to two.

I hadn't thought about the comparison to It's A Wonderful Life, but it really is there, isn't it? Great point.

ScottDS said...

T-Rav -

I agree with everything you said! And it's a testament to the filmmakers that everything manages to hold together. The problem with all sequels is that audiences can be very fickle: they want the same... but different!

And again, what sets this particular film apart, I think, is the idea of revisiting its predecessor from a different angle. Not too many films can do that. If they had gone with the original 1960s idea, I imagine most people would've accused them of simply copying the first film.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

You really hadn't thought of that comparison? On the commentary, Zemeckis labels It's a Wonderful Life a very good time-travel story, even though it deals more with a parallel universe scenario than actual time travel.

And I do agree that III makes for an overall better film-going experience since you're not left hanging. There are some sequels that can work without having seen the earlier films (or later ones)... Part II is NOT one of those movies.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I really never gave this film much thought, honestly, so the comparison never occurred to me.

Three strikes me as all around the better film-film, but for me, it's also too simple. I think they swung harder on two and I appreciate that.

tryanmax said...

It's hard to believe that in only a few more years BttF:PtII will be retro-future. I suppose it technically already is. I honestly don't understand why people get more worked up by the non-arrival of the hoverboard than that of Mr. Fusion.

As far as II vs. III, for my money it's hard to top a flying, time-traveling locomotive, though storywise, I'd put them on par with eachother.

But do you want to know what is truly timeless? The musical stylings of Huey Lewis and the News.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Huey Lewis really has held up. In fact, much of the 1980s pop has held up extremely well -- much better than 1990s pop.

T-Rav said...

Andrew should be very glad that the projected future hasn't come to pass. Remember Doc Brown's line: "The justice system works fast in the future, now that they've eliminated all lawyers."

As a total aside, I never even noticed that Jennifer was played by different actresses in I and II. I don't know if that's a testament to the casting/makeup crew's ability or to her character's minor role.

EricP said...

Finally, someone who likes II more than III. Also like III, but the alternate timeline stories have fascinated me since latching onto Marvel Comics' "What If ...?" series, and love II diving headfirst into the concept.

Re. Huey, doubt we'll hear "Power of Love" or "Back in Time" when he opens for Joe Cocker at the Greek tonight, but this feller can dream.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, A world without lawyers wouldn't bother me in the least! LOL!

Eric, I like II better than III as well.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

"Swinging harder" is a good metaphor. I recently read a negative review of III which pretty much sums it up as, "After all the cool sci-fi scenarios in the second film, we get stuck with a cliched western?"

I'll have more to say about the third film on Friday.

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

Don't remind me - 2015 is right around the corner! Other than hoverboards, people seem to want those auto-lacing Nike shoes. Nike actually produced replicas last year, which were auctioned off to raise money for Michael J. Fox' foundation... but they didn't auto-lace!

And Mattel is working on a hoverboard replica... but it won't hover!

As for fusion... yeah, I think it'll be a while.

And I love the flying train - I believe it's a good example of what people refer to as "steampunk" design, which I'm a big fan of.

ScottDS said...

T-Rav -

I assume you didn't notice the change in Jennifer actresses simply because it's such a minor role. Claudia Wells had family issues to deal with and subsequently retired from acting... but she has fond memories of working on the first film.

ScottDS said...

EricP -

I aim to please! Come back Friday to find out just why I prefer this film to the third one.

On the commentary, Bob Gale recommends a novel for people who love alternate timelines: Up the Line by Robert Silverberg. I can't vouch for it myself. The Amazon reviews are... mixed.

As for me, I recommend Christopher L. Bennet's Department of Temporal Investigations series of Star Trek novels. There are only two so far but, man, what a trip!

T-Rav said...

Scott, does plot hole #1--Old Biff's return to 2015--have an explanation, in your opinion? (And yes, I know what the writers have said about it, and it doesn't wash.)

tryanmax said...

EricP, I saw Huey lately when he did 4th of July concert in Memorial Park. They did a lot of their 80s big stuff, but nothing off the BttF soundtrack. :-(

They also rocked a lot of covers, mainly blues and MoTown. It was a real fun concert. My little ones danced until they crashed. I almost crashed, too.

tryanmax said...

Scott, I can get into steampunk design, so long as I'm not expected to get into steampunk fiction. It all seems a bit strained to me.

ScottDS said...

T-Rav -

From what I know, Old Biff's return to 2015 can be one of two things, both of which have been speculated by the filmmakers so this may be old news to you. As far as I know, these are the only possible "official" explanations.

1. Doc and Marty were out of the house so by the time Old Biff returned to 2015, it's possible other people could've been living there.

(I call BS since it's obvious from what we saw in 1985-A that the entire neighborhood would've most likely changed for the worse.)

2. The famous ripple effect may not have happened.

(This is pretty nebulous.)

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

I haven't actually read any steampunk fiction - I just love the aesthetic!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav and Scott, I figure that once the timeline changes all kinds of things change so I excuse the plot hole as simply disappearing.

tryanmax said...

I think the Biff paradox works the same way that the disappearing photos do. The ripples take over gradually until the timeline is set. Obviously, from the way the movie plays out, the timeline wasn't set b/c Doc and Marty had a chance to correct it.

Alternately, your explanation comes from Part III: "You're just not thinking fourth dimensionally!"

Mycroft said...

For excellent time travel stories, I always recommend the two Heinlein stories: All You Zombies... and By His Bootstraps.
I'm one of those that preferred the 3rd movie to the 2nd. While I loved the return to the 50's, I didn't like the alternate 80's because they were trying too hard.

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

I'll agree with that theory, though if you really think about all of this in detail, it doesn't make tons of sense. For starters, my problem with any time travel movie is this: our characters exist at the beginning, therefore we know they'll succeed, otherwise they'd cease to exist.

Of course that leads to another time travel theory which speculates that, every time you travel back in time, you're traveling to an alternate universe altogether.

I have a headache now. :-)

ScottDS said...

Mycroft -

I'm not up on my Heinlein, but I'll have to check those out one day.

I wouldn't say they were trying too hard but I guess that's in the eye of the beholder. Tonal shifts like that are usually pretty hard to pull off.

tryanmax said...

I have to cap my thoughts by saying that once you dabble in time travel, you are necessarily going to create an unworkable scenario. Einstein said that time travel is impossible and that his theory suggests otherwise is a flaw in the theory. Not that I don't enjoy a good time travel story; I just suspend my belief a little more.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, If you accept the idea that time simultaneously runs in a straight line while all of it also exists at once, then it makes sense that the characters could wipe out their own existence because time doesn't change until they change it. Only after that would it rewrite itself to take account of what they've done.

Just sayin'!

T-Rav said...

Scott, I'm going to make your headache worse. If the alternate universe thing is true (an idea about which I have no strong opinions either way), then does a time traveler simultaneously return to all universes? That is, when Old Biff went back to 1955 and changed history, and assuming that formed an alternate universe, did two versions of him return to two universes? Does universe "A" remain on default mode, and if so, why should it? And when Marty and Doc fixed things, does that eliminate the alternate universe, or do they simply go back to their original timeline? And in that case, then what happens to their existence in the alternate universe?

....Wait. I gave myself a headache.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, a deleted scene from the movie (and I think we've discussed this before) shows old Biff disappearing shortly after leaving the DeLorean, much as Marty was beginning to do in the original movie. The writers have used this to give an unofficial explanation that in the new timeline, Lorraine shot Biff sometime in the '90s, so Old Biff has inadvertently ended his own existence.

I don't like this answer, because we don't see any signs that Lorraine could work herself up to kill Biff--remember, she's dependent on him for money for her and her kids, and I don't see Biff leaving his fortune to them--and also there would have been no setup for this scene.

Although, I suppose that would answer Scott's objection to the explanation he cited above. In the (roughly) twenty years since Biff's death, maybe the neighborhood could have returned to peace and prosperity, so it wouldn't look any, or at least much, different. The only change would be the disappearance of the McFly household, which Doc and Marty wouldn't have noticed anyway since they'd already left.

Still, I don't like it. It seems like too neat and out-of-left-field an answer.

Kit said...

"When Old Biff comes back to 2015 with the DeLorean, shouldn’t it be an alternate 2015?"

What T-Rav said. :)

Let's be honest, to borrow from Joss Whedon, the "ripple effect" moved at the "speed of plot". It moved as fast as the plot required it to go.

I can see Lorraine eventually shooting Biff. Maybe she found out that Biff murdered George.

Interestingly, it was also implied by Biff's line "I never thought it'd be you" to Marty when Marty confronts him about the book that Marty had turned out to be pretty nasty in the alternate timeline (which raises all sorts of headaches).

And could've led to them going the route a Quantum Leap episode took when Sam leaped into the body of Lee Harvey Oswald (yes, THAT Lee Harvey Oswald) and his personality started blending with that of Oswald's and he started going crazy and acting kind of sadistic.
But that might've been seen as too dark.

Of course, that means there could be an alternate Marty Mcfly and okay, my head is starting to hurt now so I'll just go with what the Doctor said and go with time being "more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly timer wimey stuff". :)

ScottDS said...

tryanmax and Andrew -

Truth be told, I haven't given it that much thought but when it comes to filmmaking, the creators can do whatever they want as long as they stick to their own set of rules. And with these films... they do just that.

There's still the grandfather paradox: you couldn't go back in time to kill your grandfather because that would erase your existence, thus preventing you from going back in time in the first place.

This is why scientists speculate about alternate realities, in which you could, in theory, kill your grandfather. OR the idea that time simply corrects itself and you wouldn't be able to kill your grandfather - each attempt would be thwarted as time corrects itself.

Kit said...

"This is why scientists speculate about alternate realities, in which you could, in theory, kill your grandfather. OR the idea that time simply corrects itself and you wouldn't be able to kill your grandfather - each attempt would be thwarted as time corrects itself."

Or it would create a massive paradox destroying the entire universe!

:-) What, you weren't expecting someone to pull out.


Also, on the "evil alternate Marty thing". I kinda think it would've been cool for Marty to meet an evil alternate side. It would've violated the movies laws a bit but been pretty neat. Just a thought.

ScottDS said...

T-Rav -

I don't think these films subscribe to the parallel universe theory. I don't even know if that theory had been thought up back when the films were made.

And I wouldn't say Lorraine killing Biff was an "unofficial" explanation - I'd assumed it was an official explanation - they filmed it for a reason - but they cut the scene because test audiences didn't get it. We have no idea what happened in 1985-A, which is why I'd love to get some tie-in novels one of these days. It's definitely worth exploring one day.

ScottDS said...

Kit -

You do raise an interesting question, which is, "What is 1985-A Marty like?" So he's been sent to a boarding school in Switzerland, but that's all we find out. Who knows what kind of history he and his "father" Biff have.

Having said that, one thing I always wondered about the first film is, Marty's adventures in 1955 end up improving the lives of his family in 1985... but wouldn't Marty's life be better, too? He gets the cool truck but that's it. Wouldn't he be a somewhat changed person?

T-Rav said...

Kit, I have to say, I always interpreted that line not as evidence that this timeline's Marty was bad, but that Biff considered him too much of a loser to come asking questions like that. Which is probably what he thought of him anyway.

Like Scott said, though, I have always wondered about how Marty's changing the original timeline affected his own life. For one thing, I doubt they'd be living in that same modest house with his father a published writer and all. (I mean, it's possible, but still.) And in a more general sense, if it's true that you're the product of your life experiences, then it stands to reason that Marty grew up to be an entirely different person from the one we know and love.

Which I guess raises the question of whether it's a totally happy ending for Marty. I mean, he's basically in a new environment, with a new family, and a new past to try and learn. There's got to be a lot of disconnect as a result. But it is a movie, so maybe I shouldn't try and read too much into it.

Kit said...

Well, Marty kind of left 1985 pretty quickly. Within an hour of him waking up he's hoping in the DeLoriean wit Doc Brown for another adventure and didn't get back to the 1985 established at the end of 1 until the end of the 3rd movie so maybe it didn't really have enough time to take effect.
Maybe the "ripple effect" is slower with memories.
Again, I will go to Doctor Who where in one of the shorts on the Series 6 DVD Amy mentioned having two sets of memories and the Doctor mentioning in various episodes how time travel effects the way you perceive things.
Maybe there is a similar effect going on here. Marty is noticing the changes and the memory changes take a bit longer to take effect for him because he just travelled through time.

That, and it simplifies the plot better rather than having a long, drawn out scene with him figuring out something is wrong while living the life he does in this universe.

I know they do not have or even mention the "alternate universe" aspect. Just thought it was a fun thought. :)

T-Rav said...

Scott, that's true, I shouldn't have said "unofficial." They did film it, even if it never made it to the final cut.

As far as the parallel universes theory, I don't know how old it is, but it was definitely around by the '30s or '40s--that's when the classic "Schrodinger's cat" idea came up, and it was the subject of debate by Einstein and his contemporaries. It was partly the inspiration for his famous "I refuse to believe that God plays dice with the universe" comment.

I don't know how much the movie draws on these ideas. I think the "ripple theory" is probably more accurate, as evidenced by the changing photos and all.

T-Rav said...

Kit, I don't think that's a likely explanation, if for no other reason than he would still remember going back in time and changing history, so he would remember that there was something to change, and therefore there would never be a total switchover of memories.

This is the problem I have with the Doctor Who plotline you mention, season four of Fringe, etc. The changes it creates in characters' memories cause too many contradictions, and the discrepancies can't be ironed out.

Also, since Marty's moving from one timeline to the other, I think his personality and memories ought to remain intact regardless. Everyone except he and Doc remain in a changing present, so it makes sense they would change as well, but since they move from one point to another, and are in a sense outside of the timeline, they should remain immune from the effects. That's my reasoning, anyway.

Kit said...

T-Rav,

You might be right about Marty being a loser in the Biff timeline. I was looking through TVTropes's "Fridge Logic/Fridge Brilliance/Fridge Horror" page for Back To the Future and found this line by Lorraine when Marty wakes up: "Oh, they must've hit you hard on the head this time"

So you are probably right.

Here is the link:
"

Kit said...

Sorry, here it is.
LINK

Kit said...

"Also, since Marty's moving from one timeline to the other, I think his personality and memories ought to remain intact regardless. Everyone except he and Doc remain in a changing present, so it makes sense they would change as well, but since they move from one point to another, and are in a sense outside of the timeline, they should remain immune from the effects. That's my reasoning, anyway."

I think its the reasoning of the filmmakers as well.

EricP said...

@tryanmax -- We got "Power of Love," first encore, but we also got two songs from the abysmal Small World album (title track and "Perfect World") in lieu of, well, anything like "Hip to Be Square" or "Couple Days Off," so calling it a wash. Still, great night of music.

PikeBishop said...

Cracked took their shot at this awhile back with http://www.cracked.com/article_19920_6-movie-heroes-saved-by-gaping-plot-holes.html

Read the little article they also mention another convienent plot hole at the end of the article, one that no one here seems to have spotted yet.

tryanmax said...

EricP, Come to think of it, I believe we got "Power of Love," too. But I think we also got "Perfect World." Still, a great night of music. Thanks for the update and glad you had fun.

ScottDS said...

PikeBishop -

I read the Cracked article and if you're referring to the DeLorean getting struck by lightning, I think it's generally accepted that the lightning strike caused the car to accelerate and spin on all three of its axes, which is why it leaves those "99"-shaped fire trails. :-)

ScottDS said...

EricP and tryanmax -

I'm not up on my Huey Lewis but, as a film score geek, I'd been waiting for years for the complete BTTF score to be released and Intrada finally released it at the end of 2009, featuring the complete score and several alternate cues - it's like getting a score for another unfilmed movie.

tryanmax said...

Scott,

Nerd.

;-)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Nice review, Scott!

Before our kids grew up we used to watch all 3 BTTF films quite a bit.
I don't really have a favorite, but I still occasionally watch one when it's on.

I look forward to your take on the 3rd installment. :^)

Not much to add that hasn't been added, other than I also would've liked to see more of the 1985 alt. timeline.
I understand why they didn't dwell on it long, particularly given their target audience, but I still think about it when I watch the second one.

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

Believe me, there are days when I wonder to myself, "What did I ever do to have such esoteric hobbies?!"

ScottDS said...

USS Ben -

Thanks! By the time you read this, my third review will be up already.

And as I mentioned, I still watch these films a lot. And I look forward to showing them to my future kid(s).

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