Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Thomas F. Wilson, Elisabeth Shue
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Written By: Bob Gale
Rating: PG (US) Running Time: 1 hr 48 min
Back to the Future Part II is most definitely the weak link in the trilogy. Partly because it plays like a trailer for the first and third installments (literally ending with a trailer for part 3), and certainly because it tries to cover too much ground. To be honest, I’ve always found part 2 to be a bit of a mess. An entertaining mess, which certainly has its moments, but still. A mess.
When you start playing around with time travel stories, it’s pretty easy to write yourself into a corner. The first film in the franchise kept things simple, so for the most part, everything made sense. Part 2 though strains credibility from the moment Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) shows up to take Marty (Michael J. Fox) to the future on a mission to prevent his son from getting arrested. Why couldn’t the Doc take care of that himself? Why didn’t the Doc just tell 1985 Marty about his son’s future? The entire catalyst for the story is completely flawed, and once this train wreck of a plot gets going, there’s no stopping it!
It’s not all bad though, and it’s interesting today in 2014 to see how the folks in 1989 envisioned the future. Some how I don’t think we’re getting hover boards and flying cars any time soon! But hilariously it looks like they predicted Google glass! The visual effects have aged very well, and it’s clear that all involved were having a great time playing multiple versions of themselves from different time periods. Especially Mr Fox who shows up playing his own daughter!
You absolutely have to see the first film in this trilogy before taking on part 2. It’s difficult to follow as it is, so don’t make things harder for yourself by starting with the first sequel. One fun thing to try with part 2 is to score how accurately the production design predicted the future. I’d give them a C.
The transfer to Blu-ray is pretty decent, and I recommend you watch this in HD. The makeup effects have improved slightly over the original, but there are still some flaws.
Best element for me: << mild spoiler >>
I did enjoy the last act. It’s essentially the finale of the first film, but shot from different angles as the second version of Marty sneaks around. Pretty clever stuff really.
Jon’s Two Pence:
I agree it’s messy compared to the original but it is wildly imaginative, entertaining and the future predictions are pretty damn good. Most are played for humour so I don’t think they should be judged too hard. With the multiple periods visited you can’t take your eye off the screen once. The revisit of the original is fantastic fun, and fascinating from a time travel point of view.