Entry #29: Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Some sequels can improve upon the ideas of the originals. And some sequels are just plain horrible. Back to the Future Part II walks a fine line between a fun sequel and a tedious attempt at prolonging the life of a franchise.

It was a clever idea, a time travel film that ends with a hook where the characters travel into the future. I’m not sure it was ever really supposed to be a Trilogy. But if George Lucas and Steven Spielberg can do it, Bob Zemeckis wants to do it too!

Four years after the original film, Back to the Future Part II was released (and was shot concurrently with Part III, to make a nice neat trilogy!). I was as eager as anyone to see it. And don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun film. It takes the beats of the original film and sets them 30 years in the future. Today in fact, as this post is published. In fact Marty arrives right now, at 4:29pm!!

Boy, did they ever predict things wrong! Flying cars, Jaws 19, the Cubs winning the…well, that may actually come true! What I’ve realized about “the future” (besides it being the impetus for this blog) is that the 2015, as shown in 1989, is very much like the future people thought about in the 1950’s. 1985 would seem just as foreign and amazing to them, as 2015 would seem to someone of the 80’s (see Entry #28). But, I love it. It’s the perfect future for this series. It’s a wild-eyed innocent look at the future. A future that looks back nostalgically at the 80’s and has all sorts of time saving devices for the inhabitants. No wars, no Super-PACs, no global warming. Just flying cars, and drones that walk dogs, self lacing shoes, and hoverboards. How cool is this place? Don’t you want to live in the future?

The one thing I dislike about this film, and if I’m honest, it’s an obvious plot decision built to expand one film into a franchise, is the introduction of Marty’s achilles heel. The fact that if anyone calls him chicken, he freaks out and takes horrible risks, which has put his family in trouble, repeatedly. This feels forced, and not something that the Marty we saw in Part I would do, in my opinion. I feel that Part II, while exciting, especially revisiting the Enchantment Under The Sea dance, it’s the weakest entry in the series.

That being said, it’s been a lot of fun thinking about the arrival of the future as I saw it so many years ago. It’s not quite what I imagined, but then again, our future never is. We’re never sure what’s lurking for us right around the next corner. But I will say, that if, at some point, a crazy, wild-eyed scientist, or a kid ever shows up asking about Gray’s Sports Almanac…If that ever happens…well, heh heh heh…


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