Best Movies of All Time + [Thomas F Wilson]

BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II

BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II1989

Back to the Future Part II is a 1989 adventure comedy directed by Robert Zemeckis that serves as a direct sequel to the 1985 film, Back to the Future. The second installment picks up exactly where the first film left off, with Dr. "Doc" Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) whisking Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and his girlfriend Jennifer (Elisabeth Shue) into his time-traveling - and now flying - DeLorean. He takes them into the future in order to prevent Marty's son (also played by Fox) from being imprisoned, but during their covert mission, Marty purchases a then-dated sports almanac that holds every sporting result from 1950 to the year 2000. He hopes to take it back in time to use it to make money, but Doc Brown strongly insists against it. While attempting to rescue Jennifer during a brief mix-up, an elderly Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) finds the almanac and steals the DeLorean, taking the book to his high school-aged self in 1955. Unaware of Biff's plot, Marty and Doc Brown take Jennifer back to 1985 only to find it turned into a downtrodden slum controlled by a multi-millionaire Biff. Through his wit, Marty learns that Biff received the sports almanac from a grizzled old man during high school, so he and Doc Brown return to 1955 to prevent Biff from ever being able to use the book, hoping that it will return the present (1985) to its normal state.

I know I probably overloaded the above synopsis with quite a bit of plot detail, so please forgive me if it sounds a little flustered. I just finished the film, and I'm still in a little bit of a daze as a result. I know that I probably should have seen this film ages ago, and after watching it, I know I've caught bits and pieces here and there, but I've definitely never seen this sequel in its entirety. Fortunately, I had the chance to watch it this afternoon, and boy am I glad!

Talk about turning a storyline on its ear! This film's screenplay works exceptionally well considering it's a sequel which, to quote Randy Meeks from Scream 2, are "by definition alone...inferior films." In the first film, the audience only had to shift twice, moving from 1985 to 1955 then back to 1985. The train of logic was sturdy and easily accessible. But according to the logic again proposed in Scream 2 (forgive the references - they're on the mind), sequels have to be a little bit more grandiose in their delivery. This time, we're given three jumps in time, shifting between 1985 (the "present"), 2015 (the "future") and 1955 (the "past"). The situations that lead the characters to the future ultimately lead them back to a changed present; those situations lead them back to the past where they want to re-establish order in the present. It's like a mindless, pre-1990s Inception, but it's a hell of a ride.

I wasn't particularly fond of the part of the story that took place in 2015. Aside from a couple of clever jokes and gags, it felt completely like the plot device that it was meant to be. There was never any intention for the characters to enjoy a prolonged stay in the future, and you get that vibe right away. Fortunately, it all picks up a little bit once you're back in the altered 1985, which spurs the film's real conflict: finding Biff and destroying the sports almanac before he can use it to craft the present into what Doc Brown and Marty have seen. The shift back to 1955 serves more of a nostalgic purpose, adding an additional layer to a story audiences already knew. Using footage from the original film, additional shots are added in the foreground and background to make it seem as though there was actually more going on. This is where the film succeeds, flawlessly executing the story within a story and making it entertaining all the way through. See how the Inception analogy is starting to tie together? Yeah, neither do I, but I figured I'd throw it out there anyways.

There isn't much to say about the acting, considering we're given the same characters we saw in the original film. Yeah, they're all playing the same characters at different ages (depending on the year we're in), but there's nothing all that impressive about it, aside from some of the trick camerawork that was used to bring the same actor on-screen with himself or herself.

We're also given another rendition of Alan Silvestri's fantastic score composed for the original film. It's definitely one of my favorites, as is evidenced by its inclusion on my list of favorite film scores. The music fits seamlessly with the film, so I think it should once again be commended.

Is Part II better than the original Back to the Future film? Of course not. The first installment held an aura of magic and wonder that no sequel was ever going to match. However, it still serves as a fantastic and entertaining follow-up to our original story, and I would highly recommend viewing it. I can't wait to watch Part III, the final installment in the series.

Movie Review Summary:Grade: A-
1.5 Thumbs UpAddition to Rankings
Best Action/Adventure: #41
Best Sequel: #11