Back to the Future – 25th Anniversary Trilogy, Blu-rays + Digital Copies (1985 & later/2010)
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Crispin Glover, Mary Steenburgen
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Studio: Universal 61112394 (6 discs) [10/26/10]
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 1080p HD color
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & 2.0, DD 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: “Tales from the Future” 6-part documentary, “The Physics of Back to the Future,” Deleted scenes, Michael A. Fox Q & A, 8 archival featurettes, Behind the Scenes, Music video by Huey Lewis and the News, Audio commentaries by both director Robert Zemeckis and producers Bob Gale & Neil Canton, Back to the Future – The Ride, Setups & Payoffs, Storyboard Comparison, Trivia track, U-Control, BD-Live, Pocket BLU, My Scenes, & more
Lengths: Back to the Future – 1 hr. 56 min.; Back to the Future Part II – 1 hr. 49 min.; Back to the Future Part III – 1 hr. 59 min.
Usually in trilogies or quartets of a great original film there are disappointments with one of the sequels, but this trilogy is all great family entertainment, and in better Blu-ray image and sound than has been achieved with some reissues of older films which were on DVD. Many of those who bought the set on standard DVD back in 2002 or 2003 got Nos. II & III as pan-and-scan with black framing on all sides; that’s fortunately all been corrected in this new DVD & Blu-ray reissue set.
However, a new frustration has replaced the improper display error. These six discs (who actually needs the digital copies in order to view these movies on absurdly tiny 2-inch screens somewhere?) Just try to extract the Blu-ray discs from the maddening packaging Universal has dreamed up. There should be a large card explaining how to release the darned things – you can’t lift them out. You must press and slide them to avoid bending and breaking them against the hard plastic rim of the holders.
OK, sorry; to the movies: The original special-effects comedy had an interesting hook to it: What would it be like to meet your parents in their youth? That’s what Michael Fox does, and by accident changes the way his Mom and Dad met. I loved the part where McFly the son is trying to convince Doc Brown that he’s from the future: “Who’s your president?” “Ronald Reagan.” “An actor? So who’s the vice-president? Jerry Lewis? And is the Secretary of the Treasury Jack Benny?” There’s a lot of stuff about skate-boarding and bullying classmates which should please the younger generations.
A big concern of McFly’s in the original movie is that he saw Doc Brown get shot by the terrorists from whom he stole the plutonium he used to power his Delorean time machine, but he eventually finds out that Doc was wearing a bulletproof vest. The second time around may be a bit too clever and it’s not as funny as the original, but still worth seeing. There are all sorts of complications to the time-travel concept, and Hill Valley is shown as a crime-ridden backwater except for the giant gambling complex built by the bully Biff, who has used a future almanac tossed by Doc Brown to make bets and become fabulously wealthy. He has killed McFly’s father and married his mother. Part III is somewhat less busy than II and continues to warm spirit of the original, but in a completely new setting of the Wild West of 1885, not 1985. Marty is forced to try to prevent the death of Doc Brown at the hands of gunman “Mad Dog” Tannen, who is really Biff again. The traditions of westerns are mixed with the time travel idea in a similar way to that quirky TV series whose exact title I’ve forgotten.
If you’re not kept entranced long enough by viewing the three films of the trilogy, the discs also feature many hours of bonus features that seem to go on and on. It would nice if the stuff on Michael Fox were all in a single featurette rather than spread out into many different little sections. Still, this is a great package at a good price.
– John Sunier