so i had a spare afternoon, with Back to the Futuremy study done for the day, and what i really needed was a heavy dose of 80s sci-fi. wasn’t feeling in the mood for anything too deep and the trilogy box-set has been staring at me from the shelf for ages. the lure of a six hour geek fest was too good to turn down, so i settled in for the afternoon and made myself comfortable. it’s easy to forget quite how good these films are until you watch them again. they’re like lots of those 80s sci-fi franchises, like robocop, terminator etc that form a big part of my early years, yet i never seem to go back to them enough. anyhow, it was time to go back, back to the future! or do i mean back to the past? whatever.

the first film in the trio is, in my opinion, the best of the lot. structurally, it’s just so perfect, with the classic ideas of the dysfunctional family, the mad scientist, libyan terrorists, marty’s mission to make his parents fall in love coupled with his ultimate goal of returning home, culminating in the epic lightning storm at the climax. not only is the story perfectly planned out, but it’s shot beautifully and the cast absolutely nails both the comedic and dramatic elements of the script. the rapport michael j fox and christopher lloyd enjoy shows that the late decision to replace eric stoltz with fox after 5 weeks of shooting, really was the right decision.

delorean time machine

the coolest time machine ever?

although, in my opinion, part one is the perfect film, part two is where it starts to get really clever and interesting for the geeks. the way the separate timelines interact with each other in part two is simply genius. as we see events from the first film unfolding in the background of the second film, we get that hint of realisation in our mind that turns us into active instead of passive consumers of the film. while part one delivers us a ready made classic, part two gives us something a little bit more challenging, that we have to work at a little ourselves to really get complete audience satisfaction. what’s also great about this film is we get the classic ‘what the 80s think the future is going to look like’ thing. generally, it’s done really well, and even the slightly naff bits are done with that bit of 80s coolness which you’re just about able to get away with nowadays, the power nike boots for example.

doc's new time machine

though this one runs it close...

moving onto the final film, the one many people consider the weakest, i was really hoping it wasn’t going to disappoint like some of my friends had suggested. luckily, it did no such thing, and the change of setting to the wild west is a welcome one that enables them to film a great cowboy romp, with lovely little touches like the confrontation between marty and buford tannen reminiscent of a classic spaghetti western. i actually enjoy part three more than part two, as it follows the structure of the first film a lot more closely. yet again, lloyd and fox utterly excel in their roles, with the comic moments providing some of the biggest laughs i’ve had in ages. i think what i find so charming about the whole trilogy is the way they are interwoven so closely with each other. whether that’s through the interlocking timelines, or simple cinematic details such as the spinning numberplate after each of the delorean’s first and last trips through time. tiny things like that, coupled with the amazing storyline, add up to make it such a beautifully constructed trilogy, combining just the right amounts of excitement, comedy and every now and then, tragedy too.

this post isn’t really intended as a review, though i could probably proselytise for a lot longer than i have already on the films. for a really great article that goes into much greater depth on the films, i recommend visiting this piece… 52 Reasons Why BACK TO THE FUTURE Might Just be the Greatest Film of all Time i guess i just wanted to let you lot know how great i think this film is. it forms a pretty big part of my early childhood sci-fi memories, and it feels so good to be able to go back to something like that and think, ‘wow, this is actually even better than i remember it’. totally high on life after this particular six hour marathon.