Film a Week- Week 1: Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Welcome to the first post of Film a Week, a series dedicated to focusing on one film every week for an entire year. These films will range from new features, classics I have never seen before, and films you have probably never even heard about. From the greats to the worst, the spotlight is open to any film I feast my eye on and share with the rest of you all.

Now that the small introduction is all said and done with, time to kick off the New Year by looking forward two years into the future while going back to the past. “Impossible!” some might say unless that someone is Marty McFly.

1989’s Back to the Future: Part II, directed by Robert Zemeckis, reunites the classic duo of Marty (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) on an adventure across time and alternative universes all due to Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) stealing a sports almanac. Despite the ridiculous premise, it manages to retain the humor and heart of the original even if it is dated by today’s standard.

The film picks up directly were the original left off by recreating the original scene to introduce Elizabeth Shue as the replacement of actress Claudia Wells’s role as Jennifer due to personal life taking over. Doc Brown informs Marty and Jennifer that there is a problem in the future with their children leading Marty and Jennifer to go off into the year 2015. Upon arrival, the Hill Valley of 2015 is filled with flying cars, holographic advertisements, and styles that are so ridiculous, Lady Gaga herself would scoff at them. Doc tells Marty to head the Cafe 80’s to meet his son and replace him to save face while leaving Jennifer to sleep in an alley (What the hell, Doc?). Marty goes into the most dated cafe put to film and sees his wimpy son get knocked on his ass by Biff’s grandson, Griff, which must have taken the writers all day to come up with such an original name. Marty replaces his son to fight Griff and engages in a chase with the second greatest fictional invention in cinema known as the Hoverboard. With a call back to the first film and having Griff and his flunkies arrested, Marty fixes the history of his son’s future. The end and cue the curtains least that would be if Marty hadn’t bought Gray’s Sports Almanac: 1950-2000 to help benefit his future by using the information to win at gambling thanks to a off handed comment by some random guy on the street. Doc sees that Marty has possessed this and warns of the catastrophic nature this could cause and disposes it. Old Biff finds the book and takes it to head to the past and give to his younger self.

Jennifer is found by the Hill Valley police and dumped off at her house in then future as she hides inside to not create a time paradox. She discovers what future life is like due to Marty ending up in a car accident rendering him a broken man and stuck in a dead end job that leads him to get fired after making a deal with a shady man named Needles (played by Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers for some odd reason). Marty and Doc rush over to get Jennifer out of the house and head back to 1985. Once they return, Doc and Marty leave Jennifer on the porch of her house (once again, what the hell, Doc?). Marty heads home only to discover it is no longer his home as he is seen as an intruder and quickly finds that this is not the 1985 he is used to. Marty winds up seeing Biff Tannen’s success in the form of creating a dystopia Orwell would love and realizes that Biff used the almanac to his advantage leading to his father being killed by Biff, leaving his mother to be a widowed booze hound. Marty is stuck in 1985-A as explained by Doc Brown, who is committed to an insane asylum in this reality. They both escape Biff to hunt out Old Biff in 1955 and take back the almanac.

Marty decides to go undercover a trail Biff while going through the events of the first feature and eventually goes on a chase against him to get the almanac. Marty takes hold of the almanac and leaves Biff in manure as he crashed into it a la the first features. Marty heads back to where Doc Brown is in the middle of a storm to get the DeLorean back in time. Doc Brown is in the car and is struck by lightning and gets lost in time, leaving Marty in the rain. Marty is suddenly approached by a man from Western Union with a message from the Doc saying he did not die, but is stuck in 1885 waiting for Marty to come and get him. Marty leaves to find the 1955 Doc after Marty has left back in 1985. Doc faints at the sight of Marty is left to wonder how to go to 1885 to save Doc and ends with the trailer for Back to the Future Part III.

Back to the Future Part II is a sequel that feels like a retread riddled with problems, but still a treat to enjoy. It might be hilarious in a different way since we are nearly two years away from the future of this film practically dating itself. It moves too fast and too quick in the same vein as Men in Black II making it hard to keep up. The plot itself is handled well, despite characters meeting one another constantly that the whole time and space universe shall be ripped apart, but that is minor. The glue that holds this film together is the characters and the humor. It is still whip smart like its predecessor with jokes that entertain and the chemistry between Marty and Doc is still wonderful, leading to the dramatic moment near the climax bittersweet yet heartwarming. It still doesn’t hold a candle to the first feature, but it doesn’t need to in order to become its own entity and lead to Part III, which is up for debate on whether it is good conclusion or a terrible end no one wanted in the first place (I fall in the former rather than the latter). Back to the Future Part II is worth a look, even it is rather dated.


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