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Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy - Blu-ray Review


Back to the Future Trilogy - Blu-ray Review

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I, being in my 30s, consider myself to be a very fortunate age for a film nut. I grew up in a copiously fertile era for genre cinema. Spielberg, Lucas, Donner—all gave us some of the most beloved movies then, and all of them are still beloved today.

A director that was not as well known, come the 80s, someone that hadn’t had a hit to his name, co-wrote a script about time-travel with his buddy... and couldn’t get a studio to return his calls. Then, after Michael Douglas took a chance on him, and he unleashed Romancing the Stone on the world to great financial and critical success, all the studios wanted what Robert Zemeckis was selling.

While Spielberg and Donner are without a doubt this reviewer’s favourite directors, Bob Zemeckis’s Back to the Future has the distinction of being a film I knew verbatim in my teen years. I watched it on VHS until the taped thinned to tissue consistency and floated away, and this reaction, hardly a unique one, is testament to the effect this movie had on a generation... and me.

Now, some 20 years later, a cast and crew signed Back to the Future poster adorns my movie room’s wall, framed and prized above most other filmic possessions. The love I have for this movie, as many around the globe, make the arrival of the blu-ray version of this trilogy a rare and special event.

Back to the Future Pt 1

Set in 1985, the original follows Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) through a fairly normal American teen’s day, but when a phone call from his crackpot scientist pal, Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) arrives, Marty’s usual everyday life amps up in spectacular fashion. Doc is shot dead and he is transported back to the year 1955 in a time-travelling Delorean. While the Doc Brown of 1955 prepares to send him back, Marty is forced to spend a week in the 50s. He usurps his parents’ first meeting and consequently endangers his own existence. To set things right, Marty must hook up his folks, reject his mother’s amorous advances, and get Back to the Future.

This is a pitch-perfect classic. Enough said.

5 Stars


 

Back to the Future Pt 2

Zemeckis and Gale insist they had absolutely no intention of continuing the adventures of Marty and Doc. But in 1989, Universal said “the sequel is being made with or without you”.

Picking up at the tail end of part one, Doc screams into Marty’s driveway just as he and his girlfriend reunite, insisting they accompany him to the year 2015. Seems Marty and Jennifer’s kids are a handful and about to get themselves in deep. All seemingly goes smoothly, and disaster is averted, but what Marty and Doc don’t know is that Biff has used the Delorean to go back to his young self in 1955 to change the course of history. When Marty and Doc return to a dystopian 1985 in an alternate reality, they discover what happened, and return to the 50s to set things straight.

The follow up is a darker movie than the original, more mean spirited in certain parts, and certainly more violent, but it is still a rollicking and, at times, hilarious follow up. Crispin Glover, who, according to writer producer Bob Gale, got a little big for his boots and asked for too much cash to return, is missed from this proceeding.

4 stars


 

Back to the Future Pt 3

Zemeckis was off filming Who Framed Roger Rabbit when Gale set to task on the sequel, which quickly became sequels when he realized the scope of his story.

On the cusp of victory in 1955, Doc, inside the Delorean, is struck by lightning and sent back to 1885. He sends a letter to Marty, instructing his young friend to recover the well-hidden time machine, return to 1985 without him, and destroy it. Of course, Marty will have none of that and returns to the Old West to rescue the doc. The doc crosses an ancestor of Biff, Mad Dog Tannen, and gets a death mark when he rescues Marty from the gunslinger’s noose. The Delorean has a torn fuel line and the boys are seemingly stuck in the Old West. But Doc devises a plan that involves a train hold up to return to the future. The boys must survive a duel with Tannen, and the Doc falling in love with a teacher, before they can succeed.

This film has grown on me over the years. I initially found this to be the least engaging of the trilogy, but there is a sweetness in the finale—echoed from the first one—that is missing from the middle chapter. This is as much Lloyd’s movie as it is Fox’s, and is a fresher sequel for it. The adventure is refreshing, if some of the repeated jokes are wearing a little thin. Nevertheless, this is a beautiful wrap up for a remarkable trilogy of films, and one of the few trilogies in film history that maintain a level of quality throughout that both satisfies and surprises.

4 stars


Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 26, 2010
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1
Discs:
50GB Blu-ray Disc; Six-disc set (3 BDs, 3 DVDs); Digital copy (on disc); Digital copy PSP (on disc); BD-Live; Mobile features

My fellow (or not, I am Aussie) Americans—you guys got shafted right royally. In my possession is a blu ray collector’s edition not available in the States. A tin boxed edition with so much crap in it you could fill a wall with Back to the Future memorabilia. I have not yet confirmed if the set is region free, but, when I do, I will update this review (It’s Universal, so there’s a better than good chance it is region free). Before I get to the stuff, let’s get to the nitty gritty:

Video quality is the best the trilogy has ever looked. The VC-1 remaster has astounding contrast, vibrant colour, and is a joy to behold. It is not, as some may expect, the crispest picture, but the film never was shot that way—it is the most noticeable during the optical special effect shots, but this by no means detracts from the overall effect. Grain is intact, and thusly detail is like you’ve never seen before. The sequels fair slightly better than the 1985 original in the clean up but only marginally. Oh, and for those die-hard fans who noticed some framing issues in the earlier DVD version—they’re fixed.

The sound, a DTS-HD lossless 5.1 mix, is immersive and spectacular. This film has some of the most revered sound effects in film history and they have never sounded better. There is probably a little more lean toward the front speakers than back, but it never feels like anything less than being plonked down in the middle of Hill Valley.

The extras: the UK release is the same, disc wise, as the US—with one exception; you don’t get the digital copies. What is included is the same features ported over from the DVDs, in addition to some new ones, the highlight of them being a 6 part, feature length retrospective documentary about the trilogy that easily usurps the featurettes of yore. What sets it apart from the rather un-celebratory American and Australian versions is the wonderful tin box and plethora of replica props included in the box. There are a lot of paper-based goodies that, in truth, probably cost a few cents (double-sided posters, postcards, blueprints of the Delorean, etc.) but two highlights are a lenticular replica of Marty’s family photo from the original that allows you to make Marty and his brother and sister vanish, and a miniature Outatime number plate.

Outstanding set that finally reflects the affection this trilogy deserves.

Supplements (U.S.):

Featurettes:

  • U Control
  • Tales From The Future
    • "In the Beginning" (27:24);
    • "Time to Go" (29:54);
    • "Keeping Time" (5:43);
    • "Time Flies" (28:37);
    • "Third Time's the Charm" (17:07);
    • "The Test of Time" (17:00)
  • The Physics of 'Back to the Future' (HD; 8:25)
  • Nuclear Test Site Ending Storyboard Sequence (HD;4:12)
  • Back to the Future Night (SD; 27:10)
  • Deleted Scenes: (HD; 17:57 over three discs)
  • Michael J. Fox Q & A (SD; 10:20)
  • Q & A Commentaries with Zemeckis and Gale
  • Feature Commentaries with Gale and co-producer Neil Canton
  • Archival Featurettes
  • Behind The Scenes
    • Original Make-up Tests (SD; 2:17);
    • Outtakes (SD; 5:23 over three discs);
    • Production Design (SD; 2:55)
    • Storyboarding (SD; 1:29)
    • Designing the DeLorean (SD; 3:31)
    • Designing Time Travel (SD; 2:41)
    • Hoverboard Test (SD; :58)
    • Evolution of the Visual Effects Sequences (SD; 5:42)
    • Designing Hill Valley (SD; 1:08)
    • Designing the Campaign (SD; 1:18)
    • FAQs
    • Back to the Future: The Ride (SD; 31:06)
  • Music Videos of Huey Lewis and the News performing "Power of Love" (SD; 6:27) and ZZ Top performing "DoubleBack" (SD; 4:09).
  • Photo Galleries
  • Theatrical Trailers and Teasers

The BDs are also BD Live, D-Box and pocketBLU enabled.

{pgomakase}

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