friday flick fix
back to the future

Images from here.

The Hubby and I marathoned the Back To the Future movies a couple of weeks ago when we were experiencing jet lag. We agreed that an 80's sci-fi comedy with the likes of Michael J. Fox makes for good late-night company. ^_^ The last (and first time) we watched the three movies straight was around this time last year; I was supposed to write an entry in time for the 25th anniversary of Back To The Future (1985) in 2010 but some things came up and I hardly had any time for blogging.

So, anyway.

Robert Zemeckis' Back To the Future (starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd) was another one of our Betamax frequents when I was a school-age child. I think it was everybody's go-to Beta tape - can't imagine any '80s kid who never watched it at least once. Personally I'd memorized the details and bits of dialogue from watching it again and again and again.

Love the soundtrack too; Huey Lewis and the News were very hip in those days.

BTF was so flipping cool, with the cute guy dressed in a life-vest and sneakers; the cute girl in grandma's clothes, and the time machine dressed in a luxury car, and all the space-time jargon around the Flux Capacitor. There was an incestuous love-triangle-turned-love-square, but things ended happier ever after for the McFlys.

The DeLorean was a hot piece of automobile in the mid-'80s. It was streamlined (yeah, compared to the staple box-types) and supposedly ultra-modern. Its doors flipped upward like wings instead of opening the usual way, and that was ostentatiously, outrageously wyckid.

Logically, an amped-up DeLorean in a hip movie about time travel raised its popularity.

But it took only a few years for people to realize that those unconventional doors were massively inconvenient, not to mention unnecessary, so it isn't a wonder that we don't see cars like that anymore.

Michael J. Fox was like one of the hugest teen idols outside of the Brat Pack. Though at that time I think he was around a decade to old to be considered a teen, but he looked young and starred in a couple of youth-oriented flicks.

He was the original Teen Wolf (1985), a well-loved '80s classic that has now become another unfortunate victim of re-imagining (The original Teen Wolf was a wholesome comedy, by the way, for you kiddies who think everything you watch nowadays is original).

Something as big and as top-grossing as Back To the Future was sure to have a sequel, specifically since the last shot in the movie was superimposed with a huge TO BE CONTINUED. Back to The Future II (1989) thus came four years after.

Four years felt like a lifetime for a kid like me, but pleased as I was, I was half-surprised producers even bothered to grind out the sequel.

But -- Great Scott! What happened to Jennifer!?

Part II pulled a switcheroo, subtly slipping in a new actress for the same character. The whole last scene of the first movie was the first scene of the second, re-shot exactly as it was but with a different Jennifer. The new blonde who played Marty McFly's old girlfriend was Elizabeth Shue, who was later in Melrose Place, The Saint and Hollow Man.

I don't even remember who the original Jennifer was.

Something I do remember about this second movie was that it was nominated for (or did it actually win?) best visual effects. The particularly impressive scene was the one where Michael J. Fox played an aged Marty McFly, Marty junior and Marty junior's sister, all in one shot. Back then, that was an incredible feat of manual film editing.

Another bit that was so amusing about the second movie were the references to the first. Like for example that part where Marty McFly lies semi-conscious on a bed in the dark, being nursed by his mother. And all the 1955 scenes that make it into the timeline. I'd hate to retell everything here, but if you've seen both movies, you'd know what I mean.

A whole chunk of movie II was set in 2015. Seeing the flick for the first time in the cinema, we all probably thought the moviemakers did an amazing job of extrapolating what would happen thirty years into the future. Well I certainly did, and I even hoped hoverboards, smart homes and self-adjusting clothing really would come around soon.

Watching it again in 2011 - which really isn't that far from 2015 - all the "futurism" seems so ludicrous (but not in a bad way, mind you; it's still a comedy after all). For one thing, today's graphics are no longer so angular. Hover technology is still lightyears from becoming mainstream, and not even NASA's astronauts wear intelligent clothing.

On the plus side, the concept of video-communication is more or less consistent with today's goings on, except that we use the internet now instead of phone lines and Fax machines.

That Retro Cafe scene where Marty taught a couple of kids how to play a video game from the '80s - that's hilarious because it's quite spot-on that the little kids of 2015 would call it a baby's game. Video games today are a far cry from Marty's Lone Gunman, which was already quite advanced in 1985.

One of those kid actors was the young Elijah Wood in his first screen appearance (left) :

Other notable appearances: Before he was known as the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist, Flea was in the second and third movie as Needles.

Image from

Billy Zane of Titanic fame, also then a nobody but already cute, was one of Biff / Griff's henchmen (right, back):

Just as the first installment closed with TO BE CONTINUED, Part II finished with TO BE CONCLUDED, immediately followed by a teaser trailer of the third movie.

Part III came a year after II. For Marty McFly though, all these things took place within the span of a few days.

Marty and Doc continue their adventure in 1885. The DeLorean gets smashed after Marty gets home, Doc constructs a steampunk time machine with a train as a base. Marty develops character and therefore saves his future, and everything ends with a high note.

In my opinion, this is the least spectacular of the trilogy, but it does give some sort of conclusion.


At the beginning of this post, I mentioned the Hubby and I had a bit of jet lag. Early June this year, we spent a week in California and one of the places we visited was Universal Studios, where much of Back To The Future was filmed.

On the studio tour, we were shown the set that was once used for the Hill Valley clock tower:

Photo mine

(which was also the courthouse for Liar, Liar and the town square for this period movie)

... and one of the prop DeLoreans:

And that concludes today's trip back to my childhood years. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!
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