- Vancouver, British Columbia - As a child, I was interested in the concept of time travel, yet for whatever reason, I never found the film Back to the Future particularly engaging or interesting. I think it may have had something to do with it not living up to my fantasies of what I would do with time travel, as well as the fact that in the film, they do not go that far back in time, so it left my imagination demanding more. Despite my previous prejudice towards the film, to say that the film enjoys cult status is putting it lightly. Back to the Future retains a special place in the minds of my generation as far as what the movies were meant to be. A special nostalgia surrounds the film, and quite honestly, I wasn't all that much in favour of the adoration that people had for it. Nevertheless, I had the opportunity to re-watch the film, so I decided to try to give it a fresh review.
Back to the Future tells the story of seventeen year old Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), who has a pretty girlfriend, Jennifer (Claudia Wells), but doesn't really have much to aspire for when one considers his bleak and unimpressive family life, where his father, George (Crispin Glover), is a pushover of a wimp, while his mother, Lorraine (Lea Thompson), is a bit of a killjoy stuck in the past, yet she seems to have embraced a dull existence with her shell of a man, George. Marty, however, works with Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown (Christopher Lloyd), who is fascinated with time travel and always seems to have some crazy experiment in the works. Marty, meanwhile, has a romantic adventure planned with his girlfriend, but Doc has a big reveal for him, a fantastic experiment to demonstrate how he has finally succeeded in unleashing time travel upon man. Things, however, don't exactly go as planned and Marty finds himself fleeing Libyan terrorists who have killed Doc, as he used their supplies of plutonium on his time travel machine instead of their ordered bomb. Marty finds himself in the past, 1955, some thirty years before, but unable to return, while also feeling that he must prevent Doc's death somehow by warning him. Things are complicated more when Marty accidentally saves his father from being run over by his biological mother's father, which results in Lorraine falling in love with Marty instead of George, threatening to alter history and render Marty as non-existent.
One of the things about Back to the Future is that its plot is rather convoluted, but unlike most films, it actually works to its benefit. If someone had tried to tell me about Back to the Future and they went on some monologue about why it is such a crazy movie, I would've told them that it'd probably suck. Surprisingly though, this time around watching the film, I found myself engaged and plugged in the entire time, finding the fresh and well-paced plot to have been almost perfectly executed. We're always learning something about the McFlys and the bizarre technology of time travel and how it works as the story progresses. Furthermore, the characters are entertaining and smart, even if some of them are largely based on archetypes, but they are still appealing.
With some perspective as an adult now, the draw of Back to the Future is more clear than ever in realizing how well crafted the culture shock of time travel is in the film. For some reason as a child, I never saw this, but as an adult, it is actually a film that poses strange, yet interesting questions about time travel, though clearly not buying into String Theory, but that isn't important. Back to the Future crafts its own atmosphere and world in such a way that we can easily get lost in it, and while the notion of time travel being a reality is ridiculously far-fetched, at no point in time does it feel like a stretch to suspend our disbelief regarding what the filmmakers and storytellers are trying to tell us what happened.
It is hard to believe that while Michael J. Fox was the first choice to play Marty, the filmmakers had actually begun filming with Eric Stoltz playing the role of Marty McFly. Part way into filming though, Robert Zemeckis realized that Stoltz just wasn't right for the role, and, at great expense to the production, they re-filmed scenes with Michael J. Fox as Marty, who had finally been freed from his commitments with the television program, Family Ties. Fox feels like such a natural fit for this role, almost as though he isn't even really acting, but being. When one watches him in 1955, he looks like he is acting in just as much shock as any of us would be if our biological mothers fell in love with us.
There are also a number of pop culture references which work really well in the film, because of how they are seamlessly inserted into the film, as if to explain how certain elements of 1985's culture came into being, none more amusing than Marty McFly actually bring rock music to Chuck Berry's cousin.
There is a reason why Back to the Future has become the iconic film that it has, it is timeless and has aged tremendously well, despite the advent of heavy CGI effects in film today. It is still an enjoyable film that is easy to get draw into, plus it is really quite memorable. It is re-watchable, which is rare for so many blockbuster films today.
Rating: 5/5 Sour Grapes