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Thursday, 28 December 2017

Retro Review: Back To The Future Part II (1989)

Back To The Future Part II
Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher L.Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Thomas F. Wilson, Elizabeth Shue
Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Comedy 
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $330 million 

Plot: After visiting 2015, Marty McFly must repeat his visit to 1955 to prevent disasterous changes to 1985... without interferring his first trip 

'Sequel To Box Office Smash-Hit Is Convoluted & Too Complexed'

I've never considered myself as a massive fan of the Back To The Future movies, and yet I cannot deny it has been a phenomenal success and garnered millions of fans across the globe and in more ways than one. Yet there is something about Back To The Future II that doesn't quite run smoothly and somewhat feels off. Actually, the whole story is convoluted, all over the place with situations that occur and make little sense and with virtually little to no explanation or context given. 

For example, after Jennifer is euthanised/drugged out by Doc Brown, Doc tells Marty that he or they don't need her at all, so that she can't mess up the space time conundrum. So therefore, why have her in this film if she is not going to have a major influence or role in it? That is just nonsense. 

After returning to 1985 from 1955 at the end of the film's events, wacky inventor Emmett ''Doc'' Brown whisks Marty McFly and his girlfriend, Jennifer in the now famous DeLorean time machine to the year of 2015. Doc and Marty must intervene and put a stop to Marty McFly Jr from getting involved with Biff Tanen's son, Griff. As he does so, Marty SNR has grown up to be a weak man, old man Biff gets his hands on an old sports magazine, steals the DeLorean and comes into contact with his young self and passes on his know-how. When Doc and Marty go back to 1985, they see to it that things have gotten worse (no) thanks to Biff and the pair have to travel to 1955 to set things straight. Got that? I know I didn't as it sounds convoluted and perplexing to make any thorough sense.  

The story was written by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, and it's one overlong, at times overstuffed & utterly confusing mess that is also not very engaging. It also suffers from the middle third of the story sagging and not making much of an impact, but rather it is needlessly dragged further on. Back to the Future Part II revisits and rehashes some of the plot devices and ideas of the previous instalment: Biff chasing Marty and Marty being chased by Biff, Marty being knocked out - only to reawakened by Lorraine. Speaking of Lorraine and Jennifer, the female characters are unceremoniously reduced to being knocked unconscious with the latter and Lorraine as either a wrinkled old hag or a sexpot in a skimpy- looking outfit with her boobs hanging out for the former. Old woman Lorraine also falls victim to Biff's abuse and neglect, which he gets away with. A plotline that I found somewhat distasteful for a so-called G-rated movie. I wished Jennifer had a bit of a say in the movie, not just Marty and Doc, but unfortunately, Gale and Zemeckis pretty much destroyed all hope in that. The scene also with the Black father attacking Marty with a baseball bat after Marty crashes into their house, thus fuelling the angry black stereotypes trope, was too far-fetched also. In all, the McFly family are not very well-written and portrayed.

It does have a few bright spots, most notably the hoverboard chase sequence with Marty and Biff's son's goons. The comedy aspect is downplayed and is primarily devoid and absent throughout as Back To The Future II takes itself far too seriously for its own measure and is not so much as family-friendly as it comes across, with little of the charm from the predecessor. The storyline in retrieving an old sports magazine, also feels redundant than it makes itself out to be that could have so easily have been cut out from the movie, and in doing so nothing of value would be lost. Because that plotline has no value and no merit, whatsoever. Honestly, as I was sitting through this film, almost every plotline & thing went over my head and when it did, because the way it wasn't well conceived that I just cared less for it. 

Incoherent, all over the place and at times, the story veers off in so many directions, one can lose track of what is happening in an instant. Which happened here, but of course, these problems long continued into the third Back to the Future movie. The third film was a meaningless cash-grab that was unnecessary and one I disliked more than Back To The Future part 2.

Performances-wise, Michael J. Fox is still good in the role, but his character, Marty - both old and younger self- is not compelling enough, whilst Christopher Lloyd continues honing it in as mad Doc Brown, but still pulling it off well. Crispin Glover was sorely missed and I was surprised that his character was omitted. 

Back To The Future Part II is not just complex with too many things going on at one time - its execution just renders this film solid at best -yet unavoidably frustrating and mostly unsatisfying. 

Final Verdict

A sequel that strains any credibility the first film had and relying on reusing the same old gags and story beats, the film doesn't offer anything or try anything new. This was also a film I enjoyed as a child -, and as a matter of fact was a favourite of the BTTF trilogy, but as an adult watching it today, its flaws are much more apparent than ever before. That, and with its copy and paste ideas, it just didn't withhold my attention that much. 

Fortunately and luckily, the performances virtually save Back To The Future II from being truly mediocre.


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