They built a time machine? Out of a fridge?
They nearly did, until someone pointed out small children might think climbing into one was a cool idea. They almost made a time machine out of a Citroen DS for Part II. For Part III, they even used a train.
Of course, it was the DeLorean DMC-12 that took the starring role and was an unlikely icon of ’80s popcorn cinema.
“I hated that car,” sighs a 49-year-old Michael J Fox in new, monster multi-part doc Tales From the Future. “I really hated it. It was a sharp, metal box. And the gears were too short...”
But as Marty McFly’s famously, spluttered exclamation implied, an outlandish premise always lay at the heart of Back To The Future – driving a preposterous, stainless steel, time-pimped supercar through the fourth dimension. And it’s one you must believe in. These are the most realistic films about time travel ever made.
Don’t believe us? Then believe Dr Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist and massive sci-fi geek, who says just that in The Physics Of Back To The Future. No arse-about-tit Terminator timelines here when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you’re going to see some serious science.
Some serious extras, too. Many are from the 2005 edition – the commentaries from Bobs Zemeckis (director) and Gale (producer), cast interviews, and the footage of the original Marty, Eric Stoltz, dropped because “he wasn’t getting the laughs”.
Exclusive Blu fancies are limited to an unobtrusive ‘U-Control’ feature which flashes up interesting boxes explaining the “set-ups and pay-offs” between the films as the hi-def footage plays out – a touch grainy, but sharp enough to show up Lea Thompson’s old-age panstickand- latex, and a tribute to the gorgeous colours of Dean Cundey’s faux-1955 cinematography.
Overall, it’s an abundant package exploring how a film almost slated to go straight to VHS (studio boss Sidney Sheinberg thought it was a sci-fi B-movie and wanted the title changed to Spaceman From Pluto) became a huge hit, before ballooning into something a little more unwieldy...
Way out west
Ah, the sequels. Part II in particular is weighed down by sheer ambition, a little too distracted by its bubblegum-futuristic novelty and nudge-wink homages to the first movie, whose zip and economy it misses as a result.
It’s still huge fun though, its alternative timelines painting a surprisingly dark slice of dire consequence.
Part III, by contrast, is a little twee, but more engaging in its reversal of Marty and the Doc’s characters and its beautifully quirky 1885 finale – a film that could “challenge any other western,” quoth The Spielbeard.
The original, though, is a masterpiece. A watertight blockbuster that wears its brainiac subtext lightly, a twinkle-toed dash through space and time without a wasted shot or throwaway line.
Christopher Lloyd’s slapstick, boggle-eyed lunacy redefines the mad movie scientist; Fox is the perfect hybrid of skateboarding action star and flawed everyman; Lea Thompson aces the smouldering, incestuous undertones as Marty’s mum; and Crispin Glover threatens to steal the whole shebang with his performance as ultra-nerd George McFly.
Like Doc Brown’s precarious tightrope cable-dance atop the town hall seconds before the lightning hits, it always looks in danger of tripping over its insane shoelaces. But it never does.
After all, if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything...
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