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BACK TO THE FUTURE: 25th ANNIVERSARY TRILOGY (Blu-Ray)
Is there anyone who's been following my reviews at Spill who hasn't clued in yet that I'm a rabid fan of all things time travel? It's my biggest geekdom, my fantasy genre that I love with such fervor, I have to regularly talk myself out of believing that it's real (at least, not terribly likely). While Tom Baker's Doctor Who got the ball rolling, it was a Robert Zemeckis film in 1985 that made it go from an interest to full-blown pathology for me. I was far from the only one.
"Back to the Future" was a dark horse of a success story, a script which studio after studio passed on until finally the strength of Zemeckis' "Romancing the Stone" and the producer power of Steven Spielberg, found it a home at Universal. No big surprise they were reluctant to shoot an expensive science fiction film whose plot hinged on an incest joke. But 380 million dollars later...hell, even the President was quoting the film in his speeches.
The film's story, as if you didn't know by now, followed Michael J Fox as Marty McFly, a typical teenager in 1985 America who ends up, through a series of mishaps, back in the year 1955. After screwing up the time line, he gets the help of the younger version of the scientist who built the time machine in 1985 (Christopher Lloyd oh-so-memorably plays Doc Brown) to help him make sure his parents end up together so he doesn't fade out of existence, and then make it back to his own time. All this is complicated by the fact that there's no power source in 1955 strong enough to activate the time machine, his father (Crispin Glover) is a seemingly unsalvageable dork and his Mom (Lea Thompson) has the hots for him instead of his father. Awkward.
The biggest surprise of BTTF was not that I didn't kill myself trying to ride a skateboard for the next two years after seeing it in the theater, oh, I don't know, about six times. The biggest surprise was that it spawned two filmed back-to-back sequels, released in 1989 and 1990 respectively, that were pretty damn spiffy in their own right. There's no mistaking that the original is the best of the series, but I'll be damned if Part II isn't nearly as much fun. It takes place in the future, the altered present, and back in 1955 again, as Marty tries to set right a world changed by the bad guy of the series, the Eternal Bully Biff (Thomas F Wilson). Part III only stumbles a bit in the slowing of the pace, moving events back to the old West world of 1855, as Marty and the Doc try to figure out how to power the DeLorean time machine to get back...to the future...but it's still a hell of a good flick and it ends the series with one of the most geekgasmy moments in cinema history, a really exciting moment for early adopter steampunks. I wasn't as wild about Mary Steenburgen's role as a love interest for the Doc, but hey...I'm a dude. Get your love stories out of my time travel!
This new 25th anniversary collection offers not only fantastic upgrades to all three movies (provided with a blu-ray disc and a digital copy disc) but an impressive slew of extras to each film as well. The commentaries are not all that great, each disc featuring none of the actors in the audio discussion, only the producers, and a second track which is inappropriately, a live q&a not synced to the film at all. It's an odd decision, but for me, I never listen to those things anyway so whatevah, whatevah. The good stuff is the six part retrospective that is spread across the three discs, "Tales From the Future". It's a pretty complete documentary on the series that adds up to only 109 minutes, but it's only a small part of all the stuff on here. There are all kinds of Q&As, deleted scenes, outtakes (do NOT miss these on the first disc), music videos, a look at the science of the series with theoretical physicist and big fan of the series, Dr. Michio Kaku, the complete footage from the Universal Studios BTTF ride, and the archival bonus features (very cool in their own right) from the previous DVD collection.
Even though this is my Pick of the (last) Week, there is something about this "Back to the Future" blu-ray trilogy collection that I HAVE to criticize. It has, without question, the single worst packaging I've yet to encounter. Nothing is wrong with it from the outside, but then you try to get the discs out...you actually have to bend the damn packaging and/or the disc to remove them! I don't know what the hell they were thinking and I gotta tell ya, I'm thinking about putting them in a separate package just so I don't damage them with the expected regular removal of them to watch again and again. But, all things considered, this is a fine re-issue and one that I am SO happy with, I'll likely even sleep with it next to me for the first few weeks.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy (+ Digital Copy) [Blu-...