Movie Review: Back to the Future, Part II (1989)


Title: Back to the Future, Part II
Release Date: November 22, 1989
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Production Company: Amblin Entertainment | Universal Pictures
Summary/Review:

Having recently visited one of my all-time favorite films, Back to the Future, I felt it was time after 30+ years to finally watch the two sequels for the first time. Picking up from the end of Part I, but refilmed shot for shot because Marty McFly’s (Michael J. Fox) girlfriend Jennifer had been recast with Elisabeth Shue. Not that it proved to be all that vital because Jennifer will be knocked unconcious and left abandoned in various places for most of these two films.  This literal setting aside of a woman character is one of the many odious mistakes of this movie.

As I knew well from previews, Marty and Doc (Christopher Lloyd) end up in the year 2015 where they have to solve a problem with Marty and Jennifer’s children. It’s actually solved fairly easy in scenes which recreate iconic 1955 scenes in a futuristic setting but not as funny.  This repetition of classic bits from the first film will be another big flaw of this movie.

What I didn’t know about this movie is that only a small portion is set in 2015. Upon returning to 1985, Marty and Doc discover that Biff (Thomas F. Wilson) used the DeLorean to travel back to 1955 and give a sports almanac to his younger self.  This creates an alternate timeline where Biff is a Trump-like billionaire who has turned Hill Valley into a dystopian hellscape.  This portion of the film is extremely dark and unexpectedly violent.

Marty and Doc determine that to set things right they have to return yet again to 1955 and destroy the sports almanac.  They also have to avoid interfering with the other versions of themselves as scenes from the first movie play out in the background of this story.  It all seems kind of lazy and the funniest parts are the scenes from the first movie.

Apart from the problems already cited, there are two other flaws to this movie.  First, Marty suddenly has a character flaw that he is unable to back down when someone calls him “chicken.”  This is very contrived for a “Marty learns a big fat lesson” subplot. Second, this movie has way too much Biff.  Tom Wilson is very funny as a bully antagonist in the original movie, but here we have him playing middle age Biff in 1985, Old Biff and his grandson Griff in 2015, alternate universe megalomaniac Biff, and young Biff in 1955.  The character is just too one-note to be elevated to a leading role in the movie.

The movie does have a good cliffhanger ending though, and it sets up what I would so learn is a much better conclusion to trilogy.

Rating: **

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