Back To The Future

Back To The Future poster

All of us have films that bring back that feeling of pure nostalgia from childhood, for my generation those usually include the likes of Ghostbusters, the original Star Wars movies, Indiana Jones and the Back To The Future trilogy.

Having recently picked up the latter series on Blu-Ray I figured it was time for a long overdue rewatch and see if they stood the test of time, starting of course with the 1985 original, directed by Robert Zemeckis and from a script by him and Bob Gale.

Of course I can’t not look at these films without that nostalgia coming into the play and so, from the off, Hill Valley felt cosy and familiar as we met Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), his girlfriend Jennifer (Claudia Wells), Marty’s family, specifically his mother Lorraine (Lea Thompson) and George (Crispin Glover, in typically ‘unique’ form) and, of course, Dr Emmett ‘Doc’ Brown (Christopher Lloyd).

Back To The Future - Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox
Lloyd and Fox

Saying that, and it may just be watching it in HD for possibly the first time, but the background detail as Marty shows us around his hometown is impressive and hints that, beneath the surface, maybe this place is a little more down at heel than I remembered, and certainly more than it is when we see it in 1955.

It’s probably fair to say that a few of the set up moments for the main plot, particularly Doc ‘obtaining’ some weapons grade plutonium from Libyan’s in a VW camper van, are a little too ridiculous but, as it all rolls along this is all very easily overlooked, particularly if you can engage with the sheer force of nature that is Lloyd as the perfect mad scientist (and if you can’t engage with that you may as well give up now).

Back To The Future - Michael J. Fox and Crispin Glover
Fox and Glover

After a set up that’s longer than I recalled, but includes a lot of touches that pay off later, the main bulk of the story takes place with Marty thrown back to 1955 and trying to return to 1985 along with a side plot about his parents as teenagers.

Through all of this the energy never really drops and we get some great visual gags, low key action scenes and time hopping pastiches which, if sometimes a bit cheesy, still worked for me – though there’s no denying a few moments of the love triangle between Marty and his parents-to-be feel a little too awkward in hindsight.

Back To The Future - Lea Thompson and Michael J. Fox
Thompson and Fox

What makes this all work though, once again, is Zemeckis’ attention to detail in the design and plotting (often a stumbling block where time travel is involved) as well as the pace he sets and maintains that never really leaves us long enough to start asking too many big questions.

Ultimately then, I’m not sure I could say Back To The Future would work for a new audience but for me it was as enjoyable as ever and, while I remember both sequels being its equal, it will be interesting to see if that remains the case now.

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