Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Back to the Future (25th Anniversary Edition)

In the summer of 1985, a new movie captivated the film world with a story about a high school kid who goes back in time to 1955 in a DeLorean.  The movie was called Back to the Future as it starred Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly and Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown.  Directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale.  The film was an unlikely hit as it grossed nearly $400 million worldwide and became a favorite with critics.  Also starring Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, and Thomas F. Wilson, the film would also spawn two sequels where Marty and Doc travel through time with the DeLorean.

25 years later, the film is hailed as a classic along with one of the greatest films of all-time.  In anticipation for its release on Blu-Ray DVD, Universal decided to release Back to the Future theatrical for one weekend only to celebrate its release.  Digitally-remastered, the film is a chance for those who saw the film 25 years ago to revisit it again in the theaters.  For those who have seen it on TV and other home video formats, it’s a chance to see it on the big screen.

The story begins with Marty McFly, a high school teenager whose life hasn’t been great.  Living in a bleak family home where his older brother Dave (Marc McClure) works multiple jobs while his sister Linda (Wendie Jo Sperber) is having a hard time finding a boyfriend.  Marty’s dad George (Crispin Glover) is still being bullied by old high school friend Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) as George’s wife Lorraine (Lea Thompson) has a drinking problem.  Marty’s aspirations to be a rock star also have bumps despite the support of his girlfriend Jennifer (Claudia Wells).

Then one night, Marty gets a call from his friend Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown about a scientific breakthrough he uncovered as he comes in a DeLorean DMC-12 with some modifications.  Revealing he had made a time machine, Marty films everything as Doc recalls the moment he came up with the idea back on November of 1955.  Doc also revealed he had taken some plutonium so he can generate the 1.21 gigawatts he needed to power the flux capacitor.  Just before he was to flee, Libyan terrorists arrive as Marty ends up fleeing on the DeLorean back to 1955.

Upon his arrival and hiding the DeLorean, he is back in Hill Valley as it was back in 1955 where he meets his father as a young man as well as Biff.  Just as the young George was about to be hit by a car, Marty pushes him out of the way where he wakes up to meet his young mother.  Realizing that his mother is attracted to him, Marty meets the younger version of his mother’s family as he leaves to find Doc.  After finding Doc, circa 1955, with a bandage on his head, Doc refuses to believe Marty until Marty told him about the flux capacitor.  After finding the DeLorean and learning what Marty needed to get back in time.  Doc realizes that 1.21 gigawatts is the equation for a bolt of lightning as Marty has a date for when that bolt of lightning would come in.

Yet, Marty’s interaction with his parents could cost him his existence as he realizes he needs to get his parents together while evade the affections of his mother.  Marty gets close to his father learning about George’s aspirations to be a science-fiction writer as Marty decides to help him.  Even as they have to deal with Biff and his gang.  While Marty tries to help George to get Lorraine, Biff intervenes as Marty ends up humiliating Biff.  By the night of the school dance and the lightning to appear to hit the clock tower.  Marty tries to make plans for George to win Lorraine only to get into trouble by Biff where George finally makes a stand.  Even as Marty would steal the show while hoping to tell Doc about the future of what happened to him the night Marty got sent back into time.

For audiences who had seen the film 25 years ago, it was one of those magical events as it became a film everyone would see for many years.  Now re-released for a two-night engagement on October 23 at 12:30 PM and October 25 at 7 PM.  Audiences can get a chance to see the film in a newly remastered presentation.  The remastering in both sound and vision is truly magical.  Dean Cundey’s photography is more vibrant than ever as it truly takes in the wondrous world that director Robert Zemeckis had envisioned.  At the same time, audiences who had seen the film so many times get a chance to get a look into smaller details that they had overlooked.

The look of the film is more pristine than in its original 1985 print while the sound is much broader to complement the soaring score of Alan Silvestri.  Even as it features a soundtrack of music by Huey & the News on two classic songs, Back In Time and The Power of Love.  The dialogue that is heard throughout the film is also much clearer as it gives audiences a chance to quote one-liners as well as hear dialogue they also overlooked.  It is truly a cinematic experience that can’t be replicated in the age of 3D-gimmick driven films, bloated blockbusters, and overly-sentimental dramatic features.

While the film is definitely complemented by its amazing technical work from the dazzling visual effects from Industrial Light & Magic, the energetic editing of Harry Keramidas and Arthur Schmidt, and Lawrence G. Paull’s production design.  The highlight of the film that has made it so memorable is the cast.  From numerous small roles that audiences remember from Harry Waters Jr. as Marvin Berry, James Tolkain as Mr. Strickland, Donald Fullilove as Goldie Wilson, and a legendary cameo from Huey Lewis as the schoolteacher who told Marty that he’s just too darn loud.  There’s faces in that film that people will remember.  Even Biff’s gang that’s played by J.J. Cohen, Casey Siemaszko, and Billy Zane along with a young Jason Hervey as Lorraine’s younger brother.

Other noteworthy small roles include Marc McClure as Marty’s older brother Dave, the late Wendie Jo Sperber as Linda McFly, and Claudia Wells as Marty’s loyal girlfriend Jennifer are all wonderful to watch.  Yet, the real standout is Thomas F. Wilson as Biff.  The bully who wants Lorraine and torments George McFly while having some memorable moments that is truly his most iconic character.  Crispin Glover is great to watch as George McFly, a nerd with little confidence as he is helped by his own son to get the girl he’s wanted.  Lea Thompson is also a marvel to watch as Lorraine McFly, a woman who falls for her son while getting to have one of the most memorable lines in the film. 

Yet, the two best performances of the film really belong to Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox.  Lloyd as the wise-cracking, paranoid Doc Brown as Lloyd gets to say some funny lines while having the desire to create something that he will be remembered for.  Fox is definitely magnificent as the everyman in Marty McFly.  How can there be a film without anyone of these individuals?

Back to the Future is still a masterpiece that is definitely going to endure by the time it reaches 2015, which isn’t far away right now.  It’s the kind of film that puts asses in the seat and gives everyone a good time in an age where Hollywood is desperate to put asses in the seats with mindless gimmicks.  With the upcoming Blu-Ray release for entire Back to the Future trilogy coming, it’s a chance for old audiences to revisit Marty, Doc, and the gang once again while a new generation to get a chance to see a classic film.  If there’s a film that should be seen again and again on a screen no matter how big or how small (unless it’s in a stupid iPod or  any hand-held device crap).  Back to the Future is the film to see.

© thevoid99 2010

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