Saturday, March 9, 2013

MR Back to the Future

If like me you grew up during the 80s/early 90s, chances are for us there's only one and only "true" trilogy - and it didn't even have the word "star" in its title.

Here's my favorite movie of all time!

Movie: Back to the Future
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Release date 1985
Genre Science-fiction/comedy/adventure
Country USA

Back to the Future!
Here's a classic if there's one.

During the 80s, movie productions were having a boom, budgets were getting bigger and bigger (and even more so to this day!) and special effects were getting better.
This rise of big budget features saw the coming of even more blockbusters.
And it was a time where big science fiction flicks and comedy films went hand in hand. (just have a look at  Ghostbusters!)

This classic from 1985 (great year, by the way!) almost never saw the day.
Or at least, not under this finished form.

BTTF was directed by Robert Zemeckis, with a story written by him and Bob Gale.
Story goes, Bob Gale got the idea while looking at old photos of his father's senior year. Gale really wanted to explore the idea - what if you befriended your own father when both attending school together in the past?
They expanded the idea into a full motion picture.
They placed the starting point in the then-present, with a teenage kid time traveling 30 years into the past of 1955. It would give a big enough window of time while putting our hero at the time of the birth of Rock n'Roll culture, when teenagers started becoming more independants. Really great timing.
But no Studio was interested at first. The script was refused everywhere! It was either too confusing, not interesting or too expensibe. Even Disney refused it!
So Zemeckis went to Steven Spielberg himself.
Spielberg really liked it and produced the film. He had the film financed with Universal studios.

And thus could begin the journey of Marty McFly...

Marty is your pretty usual teenage kid from the 80s.
Marty lives in Hill Valley, California.
His parents George McFly and Lorraine Baines are always hating each other's guts.
George doesn't have a lot of confidence, and is always bullied by his boss Biff Tannen.
Lorraine is borderline alchoholic...
Marty also has some annoying siblings living under the same roof, Dave and Linda.

At least he can count on his lovely girlfriend Jennifer.
The prom's coming and Marty is trying to get his group to play for the even.

One time after visiting the lab of his eccentric friend, Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown, Doc leaves him a note to come by the parking lot of the Twin Pines Mall...

Doc built a Time Machine!
In the form of a DeLorean car, no less!
But it runs on plutonium, and after being shot by the people he stole it from, Marty ends up time traveling accidentally in order to escape and save Doc!

By reaching 88 miles per hour, the DeLorean is able to generate 1.21 gigawatts of electricity...
...and off to the past Marty goes!

This adventure film then follows Marty has he tries to not mess up the past too much.
Which he does anyways.
Back in time, Marty accidentally prevents the meeting of his future parents.
He now has to repair the damaged history and have his teenage mother and father fall in love all over again to make things right or else...!

Like I said, the movie was very different at one point.
Eric Stoltz (Jerry Maguire, Pulp Fiction) was originally cast as Marty McFly... as the second choice. They wanted Michael J. Fox at first but he couldn't make it.
They started shooting with Stoltz.. and had to replace him after 5 weeks (!) of shooting.
Thankfully they were able to get Michael part-time (he was still on the TV series Family Ties).
It seems neither Zemeckis nor Spielberg were quite happy with his performance. He was great for dramatic scenes, but he didn't had the right comedy timing.
And he wasn't even very comfortable riding a skateboard...
Anyway they had to reshot most of the film with Michael J. Fox instead, but were able to salvage and recycle some footage when possible.

Casting aside, the rest of the actors were all fantastic in their roles.
Michael J. Fox IS Marty. So I'm glad that worked out.
Christopher Lloyd is exceptional as Dr Emmet Brown. One of the defining roles of his career!
Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover and Thomas F. Wilson bring life to their characters, which might have been two-dimensional without them.

Even the time machine almost was something else entirely.
They originally were going with a refrigerator that would be using an atomic explosion to travel back through time!
(note that this idea was sort of-reused in Indiana Jones IV)
But a car would be a lot more practical for the story, and the now classic DeLorean provided a much better look.

The entire Hill Valley was built for the film. And it's almost a character in itself, the fictional little town has a lot of presence throughout the movie (and series).

The effects were finally created by ILM.
As usual, flawless, they look pretty great and hold well to this day.

Finally, the music is also very important in Back to the Future.
It gives both 1985 and 1955 a lot of character.
Alan Silvestri composed the score, like he often for Zemeckis films.
Silvestri composed quite some epic themes for BTTF, they wanted to impress Spielberg since he was the producer here.
Huey Lewis and the News compose some fresh new music exclusively for the film - thank Ghostbusters for that (I already wrote about this story over that review).
"Johnny B. Goode" has a lot of presence despite appearing in only one scene at the end and not really moving the story forward much. So does a lot of vintage 1950s songs.

It was one of the most successful films of the 1980s and the biggest surprise of 1985 that year.
The film went on winning several awards, BTTF was nominated for so many categories. Almost all of the main cast actors, for the screenplay, the effects, design, editing... you name it!

Overall, it's a cult classic!
This classic from 1985 never loses his charm.
The film is fun, very entertaining and so original!
Most Time Travel movies from before or after BTTF usually take themselves so seriously...

It didn't really age much, the years the story takes place in don't date it much as really setting the tone of those different eras.
It is still a lot of fun and unique.
Timeless. Because they were able to not "time encapsulate" the 80s but also the 50s!

And the story does tie itself nicely at the end.
Marty saves Doc thanks to this entire time travel trip, like a well thought time loop.
The End.
Or at least that's what it was supposed to be.
The ending does make the story seem to lead it into more time travel shenanigans, but it was originally just a joke. The crazy ending wasn't supposed to lead into an actual sequel.
But the giant success of the film sort of implied it.
Zemeckis and Bob Gale took upon them to follow this up in the sequel later on.

To Be Concluded in...
Back to the Future Part II!

I give it:
3 / 3 UFOs!

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