The Back to the Future Trilogy is still fantastic even after watching it for probably the tenth time and holds up in its entertainment value. Universal once again releases the movies on a new format and it does feature great video and audio and a few fine new features alongside a slew of others ported over from previous sets.
Back to the Future
— The Ultimate Trilogy —
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Comedy
Universal Pictures | NR – 344 min. – $55.98 | October 20, 2020
Date Published: 11/04/2020 | Author: The Movieman
Universal Studios Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.
Note: The screen captures were taken from the Blu-ray disc and do not represent the 4K Ultra HD transfer.
THE MOVIE — 4/5
Note: Portions of this review were copied from my 2009 DVD reviews for the individual releases. At the end, I’m providing my thoughts after my most recent re-watch.
Back to the Future (1985) — 4.5/5
Back to the Future is the reason why movies are so damn fun to watch. You can have your “thinking” movie, those projects that present social issues or reveal historical aspects of American or World history, but in a time when things will get much worse before they get better, we need Back to the Future to help alleviate the pressure.
Ok, enough of the philosophical reasons for why Back to the Future belongs with the rest… You have two reasons why, after 24 years, the movie still resonates with audiences (and why, despite the “To Be Continues” tag at the end even though the filmmakers never intended for one) two sequels were produces and released back to back. Michael J. Fox’s career had just taken off with the hit show, “Family Ties”, and he was tailor made for the part of Marty McFly, a slacker but cool kid with a beautiful girlfriend. McFly has an unusual friendship with Doc Brown, played by the brilliant Christopher Lloyd, a mad scientist who has discovered a way to travel through time (what could go wrong?). We go from 1985 to 1955 and back (wait to you see the sequel, 1985 to 2015 to alternate 1985 to 1955).
Fact is, without Fox or Lloyd, Back to the Future would not be as fun as it is. While the story is great – especially in the time traveling genre which can be hazardous in the logic department (which this movie does suffer some if you stop and think about it) – director Robert Zemeckis’ hits all the right notes. Even the supporting cast is pretty much irreplaceable (exception being Crispin Glover who was ultimately replaced), everyone from Lea Thompson to Thomas F. Wilson is also pitch perfect for their roles.
Not sure how many out there still have not seen this classic but if you’re one, go out now and at least buy the first one. Although I enjoyed the sequels, you can go without them, but at the very least give this one a shot.
Back to the Future Part II (1989) — 3.75/5
Of course, does this not go against everything Doc Brown railed against about using the time machine for personal use in such a way? What about destiny? Would it not serve Marty Jr., the idiot he is, to pay for his stupidity? Brown ignores all the perils of time travel to save Marty’s kid… Really??? Or could it be the writers tried to force a sequel to cash in on the original’s success? Not like that hasn’t happened before or since…
Well, as noble as Brown’s intentions were, no good deed goes unpunished as Marty discovers a get rich quick scheme involving the Sport Almanac which he planned to take back to 1985 and use the scores inside to make some dough. After Brown discovers this, he throws the Almanac into the trash where it is picked up by Old Biff Tannen. He seizes the opportunity to steal the DeLorean and go back to 1955 and give it to his younger self, and the younger Biff uses it to gain wealth and power thus altering the 1985 Doc Brown and Marty (and Jennifer) return to. So now, Doc Brown and Marty must go back to 1955, risking running into their other selves, and stop Older Biff from giving Younger Biff the Almanac.
Get all that? Here’s the shorter version: Brown and Marty go from 1985 to 2015 to an alternate 1985 to 1955 and finally back to the correct 1985.
Back to the Future Part II is, despite such gigantic loop holes, this is a movie that’s actually grown on me over the years. First, the set design of the future is both visually pleasing but also laughable as the year comes closer. But the highlight is going back to 1955 where Zemeckis and company use different angles and some nifty visual effects to place BTTF1 Marty with BTTF2 Marty in the same area (ditto on Doc Brown).
Sure, the story made little sense and will make your brain explode, but between visual effects and the natural chemistry between Doc Brown and Marty, it makes this a sequel despite so many flaws worth watching.
Back to the Future Part III (1990) — 4.0/5
The final chapter begins, like the first sequel, directly after the previous installment finding Marty McFly (FOX), stuck in 1955, once again needing the help of Doc Brown (LLOYD) (again) to get back to the future after the old Doc Brown accidentally time travels to 1885. The 1885 Doc Brown buried the DeLorean in an old mine shaft so in ’55 Marty can use it to get back to 1985… until Marty discovers that old Doc Brown actually dies only from a gunshot wound by Bufford Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) in 1885 and thus Marty goes to that time to save him.
Along the way, driving through the Old West, Marty runs into a battle between the Cowboys and Indians and even runs into his great-great grandfather, Sheamus McFly and his family. He then manages to get into the fledging town of Hill Valley, meet up with Doc who falls for the town’s new school teacher, Clara Clayton (MARY STEENBURGEN).
Back to the Future Part III is actually not that bad of a movie and it’s great to see the series come to a nice conclusion that also wasn’t as far-fetched or puzzling as Part II. And the addition of Mary Steenburgen as the love interest to Christopher Lloyd was yet another brilliant piece of casting by co-writer/director Robert Zemeckis and co-writer/producer Bob Gale. She brings charm to the series and adds a bit of dimension to the Doc Brown character that was needed.
Parts II and III was, if I remember correctly, the first movies to be filmed back to back, now made famous with the filming of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3. If only they had done that with the first one to avoid a pretty inane story (the movie itself was good).
On the whole, the Back to the Future Trilogy ends on a good note, with a fun story and all the actors – minus Elisabeth Shue who only appears at the end – back for one last round. My only qualm with Part III is the ending with the emergence of Doc Brown and his new family, I guess once again Doc Brown has not learned his lesson (after taking Marty to the future to save Marty’s dumb-ass kid).
In any case, Back to the Future manages to become one of the best trilogies ever made — as if Anaconda, Mimic, Major League could compete anyway and certainly The Matrix fell off in quality by the third outing which proves BttF3 pulled off something special…
This 7-disc set is housed in a digibook which side-slides into a glossy, title-embossed slip case. Inside is a single redemption code for the Digital HD copy of all three films. All features from the 30th Anniversary Edition has been ported over and includes a few new extras.
BACK TO THE FUTURE — 5.0/5
BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II — 4.5/5
BACK TO THE FUTURE PART III — 4.0/5
4K VIDEO – 5/5, BD VIDEO – 4¾/5
|Universal Pictures Home Entertainment once again releases the Back to the Future Trilogy and hard to believe, they did manage to make an improvement in the technical department. Both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray have been remastered though I wish they had a booklet (a la Arrow Video) to outline what work had been done. In any case, I found the video presentation across the board to look great. Each film is shown in its original theatrical 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 2160p high-definition transfer. Both the 4K and Blu-ray show off sharp detail with the 4K being ever-so-slightly better but not by a wide margin. Colors get a slight boost courtesy of the HDR10 dynamic range and black levels look stark. By comparison, however, the Blu-ray is not far behind, I perhaps detected some better film grain/noise on the 4K but otherwise the film looks fantastic on both formats.
4K AUDIO – 4½/5, BD AUDIO – 4½/5
|Strangely, the 4K and Blu-ray discs come with different audio codecs. The 4K UHD has a new Dolby Atmos track while the Blu-ray appears to have the same, or at least similar, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. First on the Atmos one, I wasn’t totally blown away but this, sure dialogue does come through with a nice clarity but from movie to movie, the more action-centric scenes were a bit modest, although still sounded quite good, just expected some better depth. In terms of the Blu-ray’s DTS-HD MA track, basically more of the same, I guess the Atmos track was a tad bolder with the extra channels, however the difference isn’t terribly significant.
OVERALL – 4¾/5
The Back to the Future Trilogy is still fantastic even after watching it for probably the tenth time and holds up in its entertainment value, though the 2015 future setting takes on an all-new cheesiness, it’s still lots of fun. Universal once again releases the movies on a new format and it does feature great video and audio and a few fine new features alongside a slew of others ported over from previous sets.
The screen captures came from the Blu-ray copy and are here to add visuals to the review and do not represent the 4K video.