Back to the Future Part II Review
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After safely returning to 1985 at the end of the original Back to the Future, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) immediately finds himself on yet another time-traveling adventure in Back to the Future Part II. While the first Back to the Future was strictly whimsical, though, mixing the innocence of the ‘50s with the carefree attitude of the ‘80s, the second part of the trilogy takes a look at the dark side of time travel.

This time, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) explains that it’s not Marty’s parents who are in trouble; it’s his kids. So Marty hops into Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean and travels to 2015, where he’s forced to fight bully Biff’s grandson, Griff (both played by Thomas F. Wilson), in order to keep his own kids out of prison. But what seems like just a quick fix soon turns into a major catastrophe when Biff finds out about the time machine and goes on a joyride, delivering a sports almanac back to his younger self.

Once back in 1985, Marty discovers that everything has changed. His dad’s gone, and his mom (Lea Thompson) is now married to an outrageously wealthy Biff. The only way that Marty and Doc can get everything back to normal is to travel back to 1955 to fix the past.

Back to the Future Part II still has its share of whimsy—especially in the future, with its holographic marquees and vibrant-colored hoverboards. It’s bright and colorful—and the closer we get to 2015, the sillier it all looks. But, even in the future, things aren’t looking all that rosy for the McFly family. And it only gets darker once Marty finds himself in the alternate 1985. There, the streets of Biff’s Hill Valley are dark and scary and populated by all kinds of unsightly characters—the worst of whom is Biff himself. It’s definitely a far cry from the happy-go-lucky attitude of the first film in the trilogy.

Fortunately, though, no matter how grim it gets, the film never takes itself too seriously. Even when things seem really dark and heavy for Marty and Doc, there’s still plenty to laugh about. Doc Brown is still wildly eccentric, and Marty is still quick and wily—and he still has plenty of clever tricks up his sleeve. The settings and situations may sometimes be quite bleak, but director Robert Zemeckis still jumps at every chance he gets to make Lea Thompson look like an aging showgirl—or to make Michael J. Fox dress in drag to play Marty’s daughter.

At the same time, the sequel is also more complex than its predecessor. Marty and Doc spend the movie racing back and forth through time instead of settling into one place—and the story takes a closer look at the ripple effect caused by time travel. But while the deeper exploration of the repercussions of time travel is sometimes enough to make your head spin, it’s never so heavy or scientific that you won’t be able to keep up. It’s just a clever idea, explored in a little more depth in the sequel.

It may not be as whimsical and carefree as Back to the Future—and a few parts of the plot do tend to go on a bit too long in the end—but Back to the Future Part II is still one entertaining, action-packed time-traveling adventure. If it’s been a while since you last saw it, it’s worth another look.

Blu-ray Revew:
The Blu-ray release of Back to the Future Part II, included in the six-disc 25th anniversary Back to the Future trilogy collection, features more of the same kind of extras found on the Back to the Future disc. There are archival featurettes (including two making-of features), a commentary with creators Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, behind-the-scenes footage, and more.

While exploring the disc, you can view hoverboard test footage, check out some photo galleries, and see what went into designing the DeLorean. You can also learn more about the process of making Part II (which was filmed back-to-back with Part III) in the new half-hour feature, Tales from the Future: Time Flies.

The extras on the Part II disc aren’t quite as extensive as they were for Part I, but they still offer plenty of insight into the creation of the film and its part in the trilogy. So fans of the trilogy won’t want to miss them.

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