Back to the Future (1985)

Genre(s): Action / Comedy / Science Fiction
Universal || PG - 116 minutes - $19.98 || February 10, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-02-16


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writer(s): Robert Zemeckis & Bob Gale (written by)
Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson, Claudia Wells


Theatrical Release Date: July 3, 1985


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • Looking Back to the Future Documentary
  • Back to the Future: The Ride
  • 3 Featurettes
  • Q&A with Director Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale
  • Enhanced Coversation with Michael J. Fox
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Animated Anecdotes
  • Original Make Up Tests
  • Production Archives
  • Original Screenplay Excerpts
  • Trailer
  • Cast & Filmmakers, Production Notes


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Back to the Future is known as one of the quintessential 80s movies but for my money, it’s one of the best, well at least most entertaining, movies of all-time. I have probably seen it a dozen times through my movie-watching life because, simply, I have fun. For that reason alone, this film is in my movie hall of fame, right there with, yes, The Godfather.

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.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Universal’s re-release of Back to the Future comes in a 2-disc set with the first disc being, from what I can tell, exactly the same as the original DVD release in 2002. Here’s what has been added on second disc (after which I’ll cover the original features):

Back to the Future: The Ride shows the viewer the ride that began in the early 1990s and ended in 2007 beginning with “Lobby Monitor” (15:04) where you learn the history of Institute of Future Technology before we get into “The Ride” (16:00) after Biff steals the time machine and we, the riders, chase after him.

Looking Back to the Future (45:40) is a 9-part documentary that features some new and old interviews as they go over the various aspects of getting the project together from script to casting to direction and visual effects. I was actually a little disappointed in this because, as the only feature worthy of a repurchase, just didn’t feel like it was worth it.

Back to the Future Night (27:11) – Although cheesy in its promotion for Back to the Future: Part II back in the day, this special that aired on NBC, and hosted by Leslie Nielson, brought back memories. No, I don’t quite remember watching it, but knowing how in love I was with sequels back in the 80s, I probably did (I still remember getting pumped up for Ghostbusters 2).

Michael J. Fox Q & A is split up into 8-parts as Fox talks about different topics including getting the part, working on the film and TV show at the same time and the special effects. Each one runs between 45 seconds and 1:30 minutes.

Disc one carries over everything from the 2002 release. For the sake of time and space, I’ll only cover the most interesting features and lump the others together.

Feature Commentary with Producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton.

The Making of Back to the Future (14:28) is a classic “EPK” (before there was EPKs) with older footage and interviews on the set.

Making the Trilogy: Chapter 1 (15:30) is presented in full frame and features interviews with Director Robert Zemeckis, Writer/Producer Bob Gale, Michael J. Fox and others. It goes through how the project came to be after years in development, the casting of Eric Stoltz and ultimately recasting with Michael J. Fox.

Q&A with Director Robert Zemeckis and Producer Bob Gale is sort of an audio commentary as this Q&A session at UCLA runs with the movie.

The Enhanced Conversation with Michael J. Fox feature when played plays certain scenes of the movie (all told about 25-minutes worth) and when you see the icon, click it and watch a PiP interview with Fox. Not sure why all of it couldn’t have been put together for one featurette/interview...

Deleted Scenes (10:39) – There are a total of 8 scenes, some of which are pretty good but at times are repetitive (Marty catching his past mom cheating on a test). They already established her “rebellious” behavior, so it wasn’t needed. In addition, there are some Outtakes (2:45), one is about the “test cheating” scene. The deleted scenes have an optional commentary by producer Bob Gale.

Did You Know That? Universal Animated Anecdotes – When Back to the Future first came on DVD now 7 years ago, I believe those pop-up trivia tracks were popular, don’t see them as much anymore now (though I guess VH1’s “Pop Up Video” is still on)...

The rest of the disc is a hodge-podge of features: Original Make Up Tests (2:18) showing the cast just roaming around a set or twirling and whatnot; Production Archives with some photos and time travel and DeLorean designs; Excerpts from the Original Screenplay; the Theatrical Teaser Trailer; and the classic Cast and Crew Filmographies and Production Notes (talk about back to the future) along with DVD-ROM content.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Considering the disc is probably the same as the 2002 release, I assume Universal has done no restoration or a new audio track. Anyway, the movie is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 1.85 aspect ratio and features a good Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.



.::OVERALL::.

The Back to the First Trilogy and the first one in particular, have a special place in my heart. Watching them now brings back a certain amount of nostalgia and at the same time... fear. With Hollywood finding sequels aren’t enough, now they turn to remake to fill the originality void and I think it’s only a matter of time before Back to the Future gets some kind of treatment either with an indirect sequel or an outright remake.

In any case, this DVD is pretty good and at a good price (soon enough it’ll drop below $10) but if you already own the trilogy, don’t bother. The 45-minute long documentary is interesting but not worth the price tag (unless you get mesmerized by shiny slip covers). By the way, at the time of this writing, the trilogy set is only $23 versus the individual releases which will cost you between $33-40.