Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox is right at home in the shoes of Marty McFly, and takes center stage in his latest adventure. If there was any doubt Fox was enjoying this character in the first film, it was all put to rest this time around. Marty’s scheme to get rich backfires drastically and leaves him holding the bag (and the top of old Biff’s cane) and blaming himself for their current plight. Fox excels in these types of roles and is a pleasure to watch. When you’re finished the these films be sure to pick up THE SECRET TO MY SUCCESS, also one of my favorite Fox films. Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown is back with a bang. He does play more of a supporting role here lingering in Marty’s shadow, but still delivers the same recipe of laughs and charm he did before. He even provides the movie’s best line when warning Marty about the future: “Don’t talk to anyone, don’t touch anything, don’t do anything, don’t interact with anyone, and try not to look at anything.” Love it. But the real man of the hour is Thomas F. Wilson’s Biff Tannen who steals more than just the DeLorean, he steals the show as well. I love Biff’s character change, going from George’s nemesis to Marty’s. And of all his many faces, I always liked Griff the most. My only cast complaint is with the Jennifer swap. I like Elizabeth Shue, don’t get me wrong, but after watching the original so many times she stuck out like sore thumb.
BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II was everything a great sequel should be. Trilogy aside, the story and characters continued a top notch adventure and didn’t disappoint. But if I had to be picky, I’d ask just how in the hell old Biff knew how to use the time machine in the first place, let alone get back to 1955. There’s also the matter of the new “fuel” system. Garbage. Sure, it’s pretty convenient, but Biff somehow managed to make two trips without refueling. That Biff, he’s a slippery one! And speaking of Biff’s journey, I loved his and Marty’s get rich quick scheme. I would do the exact same thing if I had a time machine. It would be the very first thing I did, to be exact. Biff’s version of 1985 was a hoot. And hearing Strickland yell “Eat lead slackers” while exchanging gun fire with a car of passing teens still cracks me up. But if flying though the future and alternate present aren’t enough for you, having Marty and Doc go back to 1955 to save the day, whilst trying to avoid running into themselves was simply genius. This storyline was very clever and ahead of its time, making this one of the greatest sequels (or chapters in a trilogy if you must) of all time.
The Making of Back to the Future Part II: Cast and crew revisit the grueling makeup process and mostly discuss how they came up with the design for a futuristic 2015. What I loved (and kinda hated) was the reality behind the hover boards. Apparently, these bad boys have been around for years but the strict parents of the world won’t let the toy companies manufacture them. Parents just don’t understand.
Making the Trilogy: Chapter Two: The team re-explores the first film and then coaxes us into the sequel. It’s clear to me that BACK TO THE FUTURE was a gamble because these people were blown away by its success. I had to laugh when they were talking about rounding up the actors, and how Crispin Glover had a list of ridiculous demands so they dumped him and hatched the idea of Biff’s 1985 where George had been shot. I’m sure that deflated his ego pretty quick.
Q&A with Director Robert Zemeckis and Producer Bob Gale: Recorded at the University of Southern California Film School, one of Universal’s Co-producers hosts a series of questions posed by himself and the students to the Bobs. They pretty much rehash their feelings and the facts relayed in the previous two documentaries. The best part about it being the all too real fact these guys weren’t planning on making any sequels in the beginning. The end of part one was a joke. Gale laughs in response to the many pitfalls of having Jennifer along for the ride: “If we knew we were gonna make a sequel, we’d have never put the girlfriend in the car at the end.” Now that’s funny.
Feature Commentary with Producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton: Back again for round two, they even laugh about how everyone’s probably getting tired of hearing them talk. These things are great for pointing out things you’d ordinarily miss, like Elijah Wood making his on screen debut in the Café 80's as one of the little kids trying to figure out how to play Wild Gunmen. I also enjoyed their story about how Universal upped the actors pay for the third movie but not theirs, low balling them into doing it for the same price as the second. They try to sound tough by saying they weren’t gonna show up for the first day of filming, but they caved and were there bright and early. I weep for your manhood fellas.
Deleted Scenes: Again, nothing to brag about here. I will say the scene where Biff disappears from existence as Marty and Doc leave the future (changing the course of time) was pretty cool. They could have easily kept that in. But seeing the pitiful wretch Dave becomes was just plain sad. There was really no need for a commentary.
Outtakes: Well they did look kinda funny....all 47 seconds of them. Just don’t blink.
Universal Animated Anecdotes: More “Popup Video” fun. They sure do focus a lot on JAWS in this movie. We see JAWS 19 (now that's a lot of sequels) and even see JAWS the nintendo game. I played it and have say it was damn near impossible to hit him with your boat.
Production Design: Bob Gale explains how these movies were a production designer’s dream. Instead of using an actual city area, they used a naked shell on the Universal lot. Very fascinating Bob, it would have been much more so had you not already explained this twice before.
Storyboarding: A quick look at storyboarding, which is capturing the essence of a scene in comic book form so to speak. I really dug the prints, and they were all individual which added a lot of appeal. I bet more than a couple of these have sold on eBay for a shit ton of cash.
Designing the DeLorean: I’m all for saving the environment but this sort of recycling is rather annoying. Here we have a re-telling of how the concept of the DeLorean time machine came to be. It was cool the first time.
Designing Time Travel: Bob explains the idea behind what they wanted time travel look like. They wanted it to be instantaneous, which I agree with. Also, after countless concepts they finally decided on a “hot” and “cold” scenario. I find it heartwarming that he admits this was the right course because of its simplicity and low cost. Nice to know they were willing to cut corners for the budget.
Hoverboard Test: A one minute (mute) look at stunt people being pulled around with hooks and pulleys while attached to the hoverboards. They were rehearsing the main hoverboard scene, but I don’t see the need to show us.
Evolution of Visual Effects Shots: Here we have a digital map of the effects scenes. It plays out like a flip book, adding new background and details with each new page. One of my best friends went to school for graphic design and he can make cool effects like these. Not as good mind you, but I always loved seeing how the “magic” is brought to life.
Production Archives: Lots and lots of movie stills featuring the cast and crew, behind the scenes stuff and futuristic designs. My favorite? Lorraine with her boob job in Biff’s 1985.
Huey Lewis & The News Power of Love Music Video: Yes, it’s the music video you’ve been dying to see. Working Doc and the DeLorean in was cool, but there’s a world of difference between being a fan of the song and a fan of the video.
Trailers: We get the theatrical movie trailer as well as one for Universal Studios. I’ll say this, if you haven’t been to Universal Studios, you really should consider making the trip. That place is a blast!
Cast & Filmmakers: More cast and crew bios, not much different than the last ones. So much makeup, so many characters.
Production Notes: A recap of the many elements used to make this film, all of which have been explained at least once. It’s amazing how many times you can re-tell the same information.
DVD-ROM Features including Total Axess: Same commercial as last time explaining how you can use this DVD to connect to Universal’s Total Axess site and enjoy behind the scenes footage and special extras for some of you favorite movies.
Recommendations: Same six movies as last time: E.T, JAWS, JAWS 2, and all three JURASSIC PARK films.