johnlink ranks BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II (1989)

Second night in the tent, second night watching a BACK TO THE FUTURE movie. Perhaps you can guess my plans for tomorrow evening. This is what happens when you end up in a location with no internet or cell service.


I watched BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II (1989)on 8.23.14. It was my third viewing of the film, and first in probably a decade.

In talking about the first film, I pointed out how that original BACK TO THE FUTURE succeeds despite many factors which would normally lead to a somewhat cheesy 80s movie experience. Well, unfortunately, many of those same factors are what lead to the second film not being able to live up to the first.

This film has Marty (Michael J Fox) going into 2015 (more on that in a minute) in order to help protect his kids. While this seems like a premise for an entire movie, the film bounces from 2015 to an alternate 1985 and then back to the 1955 of the first film. The pacing of this movie is somewhat off-putting, with jokes which felt set up and well executed in the first movie feeling somewhat forced here.

This is still a fun and endearing movie, it just doesn’t live up to the true classic status of the first one. Part of that feeling begins when looking at the 2015 predicted in the late 80s by this film. Big screen TVs with too many channels turned out to be true, as does the prediction of things being automated. Yet the future of real life can’t nearly live up to the future as predicted. Sadly, we don’t have flying cars or Ronald Reagan serving as our waiter. We don’t have shoes that tie themselves (though I don’t know why we don’t) or clothes which fit themselves to our bodies and dry themselves. We, fortunately, have moved beyond faxes and halting video a la Max Headroom.

But the tone set by this film during its foray into 2015 is one which seems eager to cash in on the first movie rather than paving its own way. The hoverboard is a stand in for a skateboard and the 80s nostalgia cafe recalls the actual 50s nostalgia of the first film’s cafe. Yet both of these things are retreads rather than improvements. When the movie jumps all the way back to the 50s, we literally watch scenes from the first movie again. That works sometimes, but doesn’t enhance the original film the way we hope it might. If only they had written the entire trilogy together, we could have had moments in the first that teased the second rather than having the second film merely capitalize of the effectiveness of the first (I hope that sentence made sense).

What the film does amazingly well is special effects as it pertains to having the same actor playing different versions of himself in the same shot. This happens many times, and the result is never showy, nor does it ruin the film’s reality. Much care was put into making these shots work, and they do. Also, the alternate 1980s is appropriately scummy. It is a nightmare wasteland which feels like BLADE RUNNER meets a PG film.

So, while I had fun with BACK TO THE FUTURE II, it certainly leaves more on the table than we might hope. It is a perfectly fine little movie, but it can’t live up to the first. No matter, I’ll still be watching the third one soon enough anyway.



I hate to nitpick, but I have to take a point away for including a trailer for the third movie at the end of the second one (before the credits, no less). It’s such a cheap and silly move. I can’t believe they didn’t pull that off the home release.


FINAL SCORE: 5.5 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on August 24, 2014.

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