Review by J.T. Johnson
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: November 22, 1989
DIRECTOR: Robert Zemeckis
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Dean Cundey
WRITERS: Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale
MUSIC: Alan Silvestri
Originally, writers Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale did not want to do a sequel to “Back to the Future”. The gag at the end featuring the flying DeLorean was just a last joke for the audience. However, due to the massive success of the first film, Universal Pictures definitely wanted another film in the franchise.
When Zemeckis and Gale realized that the studio was going to move forward with a sequel, they decided to go ahead and move forward with it themselves. Initially, they wrote one massive screenplay that featured all of the elements found in the second and third films. When Spielberg read the script, the three of them understood that the movie needed to be split into two films with the intent to shoot them back-to-back.
The second film deals primarily with the ending of the first movie. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), and Marty’s girlfriend Jennifer (Elizabeth Shue) travel 30 years into the future to the year 2015. While there, Doc knocks Jennifer out and explains to Marty that his future son will do something that will cause irreparable harm to Marty’s family.
Once Marty deals with this situation, he attempts to buy a book that will give him the scores to every game over the next 30 years. Doc stops Marty from doing this, but they are overheard by old Biff who steals the book, travels back to 1955 and gives it to his younger self. Once Doc and Marty discover this, they head back into the events of the first film in order to retrieve the book and stop Biff’s rise to power in an alternate 1985.
That is the thing that makes this film unique among film sequels. With the time travel element, “Back to the Future Part II” is able to let its characters examine the events of the first film from different angles. Part of the fun of this film is that we get to see Marty and Doc not only witness the first film, but also watch as they have to dodge their past selves so as not to distort the time-space continuum any further than they already have.
The cast is once again strong, though I must admit that without Crispin Glover’s involvement, Lea Thompson doesn’t have much to do here as Lorraine. Still, Fox and Lloyd are as great together here as they were in the first film. Once again, the strong relationship between these two characters is one of the biggest reasons you’re cheering them on.
The only other slight problem that I have with the movie is that it does rely on its time travel gimmick more than either of the other films. It feels as though Gale and Zemeckis wanted to have more fun with their time machine than with the story. Still, despite this, they do manage to turn out a pretty fun story that successfully leaves the door open for the third and final entry in the “Back to the Future” trilogy and it is definitely the strongest of the two sequels.