Wednesday, August 19, 2009

#498: Back to the Future II (1989)

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson & Thomas F. Wilson

Marty McFly is one of my heroes of 20th-century film, and understandably so. In this sequel, Marty travels first to the future, then back to the present, and finally returns to the past that he had already visited in the original. With this structure, Marty experiences the worst case of the butterfly effect, having his entire livelihood affected by the purchase of a book from the future.

There's so much to love about this film. It is chock-full of pop culture references, including dozens of references to the original film. The special effects are quite a bit ahead of its time, the soundtrack by Alan Silvestri is memorable, and the acting is great - despite its being intentionally overdone in the cases of Lloyd, Thompson and Wilson. And of course, the story itself is remarkable. The intricacies throughout the entire script stand out well enough to notice and follow, but are performed in a fluid and natural way.

This is by far the best sequel that has ever been made. What's been lost on a lot of sequels is that it becomes simply a second story about the same characters. In this case, it not only adds on to the original, but it in fact enhances it. If only Zemeckis could have kept that going in the conclusion of the trilogy, which understandably was not chosen to be on Empire's 500.

And now, the trivia. And there's lots, because this film deserves it.

Fun Trivia (stolen from IMDB):

  • Crispin Glover played George McFly in Back to the Future (1985), but was replaced by Jeffrey Weissman in Part II. Weissman was made up to look like Glover so that this film could incorporate excerpts from the original. All shots of Weissman are either from the back, at an angle, or with Sunglasses so that the audience wouldn't notice that it is a different actor.
  • Elisabeth Shue was cast as Jennifer, and all the closing shots of Back to the Future(1985) were re-shot for the beginning of this film. Claudia Wells (Jennifer in Back to the Future (1985)) was unable to reprise her role as she had stopped acting because her mother had been diagnosed with cancer. She returned to acting for the independent film Still Waters Burn (2008).
  • A movie theatre advertises "Jaws 19", directed by "Max Spielberg". Executive producer Steven Spielberg, who directed Jaws (1975), has a son Max.
  • First film appearance by Elijah Wood.
  • The tagline for Jaws 19 is "This time it's really, REALLY personal".
  • When Marty visits his neighborhood in 2015, a dog can be seen in the background being walked by one of the robots from *batteries not included (1987).
  • The football scores Biff hears on the radio while driving are all actual scores from November 12, 1955, and the UCLA/Washington game he and old Biff listen to did indeed end with UCLA kicker Jim Decker hitting a last second field goal to win.
  • In 2015, when Doc and Marty look at the USA Today newspaper and see the headline change, the following headlines and blurbs are:
  1. Cubs Sweep Series In 5 (a World Series sweep would be in 4 wins, thus implying the playoffs have been expanded in the future)
  2. Washington Prepares For Queen Diana's Visit (the film was released 8 years before Princess Diana's death)
  3. Swiss Terrorist Threat
  4. President Says She's Tired
  5. Pitcher Suspended For Bionic Arm
Two gigantic thumbs up!

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