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In the first film, eccentric inventor Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) builds a time machine from a DeLorean car. Determined to prove that time travel is possible, his young helper Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) offers to test it out. Marty is sent back to 1955, where he unwittingly interferes in the romance between his parents. Now he has to fix up the mess, otherwise his parents won’t get married and he’ll never be born! In Back to the Future Part II, Marty takes a trip to 2015 to straighten out his family’s future. While there, he buys a book of sports results from 1950 – 2000, hoping to make some money. But the book and the car are stolen by Biff Tannen (Thomas F Wilson) who gives the book to his younger self back in 1955. Marty has to revisit 1955 and sort out the mess – without interfering with his first trip there. In Part III, Marty goes back to 1885 when he finds out that Doc has been murdered on one of his time travels. He has to prevent Mad Dog Tannen, one of Biff’s ancestors from doing the Doc in.

Review by David Edwards:
We all knew DVD was going to be big, but this is BIG. Over 4 hours of movies and 10 hours (yep, 10 hours) of extra features are packed into this three-disc set.

The big attraction here, of course, is the original Back to the Future, the film that launched Michael J Fox’s career as a film actor and established Robert Zemeckis as a bankable Hollywood director. The producers of the DVD package have recognised its importance by devoting the bulk of the special features to this part of the trilogy.

The film itself remains an enjoyable experience and hasn’t dated nearly as badly as many other films from the era (it was released in 1985). With its engaging characters, intriguing plot and feel-good sensibility, it continues to be a likeable film for young and not-so-young. 

But the film becomes almost secondary to the mammoth amount of material on this DVD. One of the best innovations I’ve seen for a while is a feature titled Did You Know That? Universal’s Animated Anecdotes. This basically flashes up little tidbits of information about the film as you’re watching it (like the fact that the school used in the film was Richard Nixon’s alma mater). This is great for trivia buffs and anyone wanting to delve into the film in greater detail. 

This film is also the only one on the DVD to be accompanied by a commentary. The commentary in fact is an extended Q & A session with Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale (the writer with whom Zemeckis collaborated on all three Back to the Future films). As a result, the commentary at any given moment isn’t necessarily pertinent to what’s happening on-screen at the time. It does however provide a lot of background information about the film and how it was made.

One word for the technically unskilled (like myself), once you turn the commentary on, you may find it something of a tall order to turn it off.

Some of the information from the commentary is repeated in the “Making the Trilogy” featurette in which the filmmakers look back on their experiences in making the film. This is a much slicker production than the “Making of” featurette, which dates from the time the film was released, but for my money, the latter is the better value.

Not only do we get to see the filmmakers and actors talking about the film without the benefit of hindsight, it features hilarious footage of Steven Spielberg (who produced the film) as he was in 1985. Far from the slick operator we know today, he appears with one of the worst haircut-sunglasses combinations ever put on film. In fact, if it weren’t for the on-screen identification, few would recognise him as the man who went on to make Schindler’s List.

Once you’ve been through the first disc though, things start to go downhill. Back to the Future II, while it had a great premise and some wonderful scenes, particularly in the latter part of the film, never really worked. This is partly due to the clunky “future” scenes, which today seem quaint at best and laughable at worst. 

Like the original, the bonus material accompanying Part II includes the original “making of” featurette, as well as Chapter 2 of the Making of the Trilogy. Unfortunately, there’s no commentary with this one, nor any neat pop-up information. 

By the time we get to Part III however, the producers of the DVD have just about thrown up their hands. The film itself just doesn’t work, and in parts it smacks of desperation. In addition, there’s not even a “making of” featurette to accompany it. While we have the Making the Trilogy Chapter 3, about the coolest thing on this disc is the outtakes reel (unless of course, you’re into ZZ Top, who provide a music video).

All three discs include outtakes reels (all of which are pretty funny) and deleted scenes. While these are fine as far as they go, I personally always prefer to have some commentary to provide insight into why they were deleted in the first place. They all have production archives featuring original photographs, storyboards and props, as well as storyboard to feature comparisons – all good stuff.

The Back to the Future Trilogy will no doubt be a must-have for fans of the series. For the average DVD buyer, this is a value-packed set. Sure, Part III isn’t much chop, but there’s so much good stuff here on Part I (in particular) and Part II, that the quality of the third film can virtually be overlooked. 

Published August 22, 2002

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NSW: Linda Ponting
VIC: Nicole Downer
WA: Paul Walker
SA: Michael Masterson
QLD: Lucinda Phillips

(Prizes will be sent by Universal)


CAST: Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

DIRECTOR: Robert Zemeckis

RUNNING TIME: 269 minutes (features only)

SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc 1– The Making of Back to the Future; Making the Trilogy: Chapter 1; feature commentary; outtakes; deleted scenes; original make-up tests; Did You Know That? Universal’s Animated Anecdotes; production archives; storyboard to feature comparisons; trailer. Disc 2: The Making of Back to the Future Part II; Making the Trilogy: Chapter 2; outtakes; deleted scenes; original hover board test; production archives; storyboard to feature comparisons, trailer. Disc 3: Making the Trilogy: Chapter 3; outtakes; deleted scenes; ZZ Top music video; production archives; storyboard to feature comparisons, trailer.


DVD RELEASE: August 21, 2002

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