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Back to the Future III
DVD disk
03.04.2009 By: J.A. Hamilton
Back to the Future III order
Director:
Robert Zemeckis

Actors:
Michael J. Fox
Christopher Lloyd
Mary Steenburgen

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
With the help of Docís letter from the old west, Marty and 1955 Doc are able to locate the DeLorean in an old mine shaft and fix it so Marty can finally return home. But when Marty learns of Docís death at the hands of Biffís great grandfather, he decides to go back and save him.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Well, as much as I hate to say it, this is where the train began to lose steam for me. I have nothing against the old west, but it was never a very good stage for comedy. Sure, there are a great many laugh out loud characters and situations Iíve seen go down in the west, but I assure you, these were not family movies. And ultimately, I think this hurts the filmís fun factor. Hitting the past, and chasing his folks around was fun. Tackling the future, and chasing Biff around was fun. Getting shot at by a sad excuse of a villain while knee deep in a love story, not so much fun. I loved everything about the Clint Eastwood angle, and the moonwalk scene was perfect. What sticks out the most (in a good way) are the repeat scenes spanning across all three movies and time periods. Therein lies the true magic behind these movies, and seeing these bits reminds me just how remarkably special these films truly are to me. Now Iím not saying the western theme wasnít well done, quite the contrary in fact. It was exceptionally well done. And no doubt the hardest of the three themes to pull off. Have you ever gone horseback riding? I have, and it sure as hell isnít as easy as it looks. Iíll give the Bobs mad props for Hill Valleyís 1885 make over, and the story wasnít poor by any means, just mediocre in comparison to the other two.

Christopher Lloyd gets his turn in the spotlight here, pushing Doc Brown to new heights. I love Doc. I do. And I wanted to see him happy, but the love story really slowed the pace for me. I didnít hate it (like I hated Renee Zellweger in Appaloosa) or find myself angered by it. It simply took away from the BACK TO THE FUTURE vibe I was so used to. Michael J. Fox gave us another solid round of Marty action, though his Seamus character was a bit awkward. I did enjoy Martyís coming of age, and his ability to finally take charge of his own destiny. Getting a clean slate is exactly the sort of ending people wanted to see for him and Jennifer. You remember Jennifer? I canít help but laugh, seeing as how her total screen time over the course of the three movies couldnít have been more than fifteen minutes. Poor Elizabeth Shue. Iím curious to know how much she actually made for work here. Lea Thompsonís presence was short and sweet and Thomas F. Wilsonís ďMad DogĒ Tannen was alright but obviously the least interesting of Tannen family. Mary Steenburgen played a wonderful Clara, I wonít take that away from her, but like I said, I just donít think her story arc belonged in a BACK TO THE FUTURE film.

Make no mistake, BACK TO THE FUTURE III is by far the weak link in the franchiseís armor. Trilogies always have a weak link, and most times it falls on the final chapter. It makes sense in a way. The first one is meant to hook you with the story, the second pushes the climax and the third wraps it all up. I hate saying so, it makes me feel like Iím trashing one of my favorite trilogies, but the truth here is common knowledge. GODFATHER 3, RETURN OF THE KING, ALIEN 3, and the list goes on and on. I will say this, BACK TO THE FUTURE III was at the very least better than those afore mentioned trilogy finales. Everything works out in the end for our beloved characters and I suppose thatís what matters most. And despite a couple slow points, this movie was still very entertaining. Part of the reason we tend to dislike these last pieces to the story is simply that, theyíre the last pieces of the story meaning the adventure is coming to an end. Nobody likes to say goodbye to great characters. But better that then the alternative. Iíll give you a couple hints as to what I mean. SON OF THE MASK. ACE VENTURA JR: PET DETECTIVE. I could go on, but I think you get the point.
THE EXTRAS
Another great DVD packed full of more extras than you can shake a stick at. Still a bit heavy on the repeats though.

The Making of Back to the Future Part III: The focus here is on (seemingly everyone on setís dream of) becoming a cow boy in the wild west. They didnít use the same set as before, deciding to build this on from scratch for a more vivid imagination. It worked too. They also go in detail about the filmís climax, the train scene. I really dug the train scene because it was different than what weíre used to. Usually the train gets robbed and abandoned. Not this time. They certainly give new meaning to term full steam ahead.

Making the Trilogy: Chapter Three: The Bobs discuss the glue holding both this film and the trilogy together. The main point these guys get across is how hectic it is to shoot two movies back to back over the span of a year. There was a three week hiatus after Part II, but even Fox can attest to how long a year really is. I didnít realize, but not only did his father passed away during this time, his son was also born. Editing one movie while shooting another sounds like a hell of a lot of work.

Q&A with Director Robert Zemeckis and Producer Bob Gale: Another session at the USC Film School with Universalís Co-producer and his students. The Bobs really loved the old west concept and wholeheartedly admit to having the most fun with the third film. They still have no trouble admitting to budget cuts this time around, explaining that this is the reason for so many ďhalf builtĒ structures you see on the set. These guys make me laugh. I really did like how they squeezed the clock towerís origin in there.

Feature Commentary with Producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton: They boys are back for one last commentary (though they joke about a part VI) and walk us through some of the films not so known secrets. This was the first time Universal used their new 75TH anniversary logo (I always liked the old one personally) which is not the one you see now days, that one being the third incarnation. My favorite bit is about Docís 1955 dog Copernicus. Evidently the real one was unavailable so they used a new one. Problem was, he was the wrong color so they had to dye his coat lighter. The things we donít know.

Deleted Scenes: Thereís only one deleted scene here, showing Tannen kill the marshal in front of his son. You donít need a commentary to understand why this scene was stricken. This was a bigger buzz kill than Buzz Killington.

Outtakes: Another short batch of outtakes (a minute and a half this time. SCORE!) yielding a couple laughs. Poor Roger Rabbit.

Universal Animated Anecdotes: More ďPopup VideoĒ style storytelling, this time triggered by clicking a hat on screen. Yes, there are just as many ďfun factsĒ and ďnot so fun factsĒ this time around. My favorite? In 1996 the entire western set burned to the ground in a fire caused by (drum roll) a lighting bolt. Howís that for irony.

Designing the Town of Hill Valley: Here Bob explains the focus of Hill Valley was always the Clock tower and he wanted the movies to convey as much. Well, in my opinion they certainly did. No matter what changed from past to future, the clock tower was always the focal point.

Designing the Campaign: Here we get to see the many poster ideas for the films. All I can say is, Iím very glad they landed on the concept they did. The rest were pretty cheesy.

Production Archives: More photo still and production concepts pertaining to the cast and film. I love the one of Marty and Doc in front of the clock.

ZZ Top ďDoublebackĒ Music Video: Rockers ZZ Top provide us with their video which is even more ridiculous than the Huey Lewis one, if you can believe that.

The Secrets of the Back to the Future Trilogy: Kirk Cameron hosts a half hour TV special answering some of the questions (and mysteries) pertaining to the series. What did it for me is hearing them discuss the raw physical demand these films had on the actors. Most of the time when you see them jumping around or being hit in the head. It was real. Not to mention all the work they did with the horses.

FAQís about the Trilogy: Pretty much how it sounds. We have a list of the most popular questions posed about the films and the answers. The million dollar question for me (and one Iíd never really thought of) was asking about Griff: If Biff was his grandfather why didnít we meet Biffís son? Sadly, the answer is less than satisfying.

Trailers: We get the feature and Universal Studies theme park yet again. I think people get the idea by now.

Cast and Filmmakers: We get another look at cast and crew bios. The only difference this time is stuff pertaining to new characters in this film.

Production Notes: A little more insight into the concept and trials of bringing parts II and III to life simultaneously. People thought they were joking at first as the idea of taking on a task this huge was a bit crazy. I donít doubt it was rough, but I would think making them back to back would be the best way to do it. The cast and crew are already there, and the roles are fresh in their minds. But what do I know.

DVD-ROM Features including Total Axess: The exact same short commercial explaining how you can use this DVD to connect to Universalís Total Axess site and enjoy behind the scenes footage and special extras for some of you favorite movies.

Recommendations: We get the same six movies: E.T, JAWS, JAWS 2, and all three JURASSIC PARK films.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
All good things must come to an end, and like I said, the characters roll out with a happy ending. The west may not be your thing, but like it not thatís where the ride takes us. We still get great performances and can sleep well at night knowing the series went out on a positive note. I hope thereís room on your DVD rack for one more, cause BACK TO THE FUTURE III should be pulling in to a station near you as we speak.
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