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Monday, May 20, 2013

Back to the Future: Part II

This is the second of a three part Monday Matinee series.

Last week, we took a look at the classic 1985 film, “Back to the Future”. It was a film that made household names of Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Lea Thompson (although all three were established stars prior to the making of the film), it was one of the highest grossing films of the year, and it was probably one of the films that I remember most from my own childhood.

Well, in this edition of the blog, we're going to be looking at the second part of the “Back to the Future” trilogy.

When we last left off, Marty McFly accidentally traveled back in time from 1985 to 1955, where Marty accidentally set off a chain of events that could have prevented his parents from even falling in love. In fact, had Marty not gone out of his way to make everything okay between his parents, Marty's own mother would have ended up falling in love with a guy named “Calvin Klein”.

Fortunately, all was made right in the world, and 1985 was much improved at the McFly household. But when Doc Brown pays a hasty visit to Marty and informs him that his children are in peril in the future, it appears as though Marty will have to go back to the future once more.

Hence the reason why the movie is named “Back to the Future Part II”, which began broadcasting in theatres on November 22, 1989. As was the case with the last film, the film was produced by Steven Spielberg, directed by Robert Zemeckis, and written by Bob Gale.

At first, film director Robert Zemeckis was not going to do a sequel to the wildly successful first film. He thought that the original ending was funny and humourous enough to not warrant a second edition. However, the fact that the first film did incredibly well changed his mind. The only request that he had was that Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd would at the very least come back to reprise their roles. Christopher Lloyd immediately agreed to come back as Doc Brown, and since “Family Ties” wrapped up production in 1989 (the same year as the film's release), Michael J. Fox was free to honour his commitment to the movie.

Other actors and actresses returning to the film was Lea Thompson (Lorraine McFly), and Thomas F. Wilson (Biff Tannen).

There were however a couple of recasts that had to be made. For starters, Marty's girlfriend Jennifer was played by Elisabeth Shue. For what it was worth, Claudia Wells was asked to come back to the role she originated, but she was unable to make the commitment due to some personal issues. This actually lead to one scene from the 1985 version being completely re-shot for inclusion in the 1989 film!

And, then there's the Crispin Glover story.

You might recall that back in 1985, Crispin Glover played the role of Marty's father, George McFly. Glover was in talks with producers to reprise his role for the sequel, but the only sticky point of the deal was the issue of salary. Crispin Glover made the claim that the highest offer that he was given by the producers was $125,000. A modest sum by anyone's perspective for a job...but when you consider that the other actors and actresses were making at least twice the amount for the same job, I suppose it could be understood as to why Glover turned it down. The producers scrambled to try and find a way to keep George McFly in the production, and they settled on using old footage of Glover from the first film, and editing it together with new footage shot by replacement actor Jeffrey Weissman. To hide the fact that the actor was a replacement, prosthetics and clever camera angles were used. But this only served to tick Crispin Glover off even more. Glover even launched a lawsuit against the producers of “Back to the Future: Part II” because he did not give them permission to use his likeness in the film after he turned the project down.

For what it's worth though, Glover's lawsuit did cause the Screen Actors Guild to revise several clauses in their policies which have prevented a situation like Glover's from happening again.

Okay, so now that we've gotten the controversy out of the way, why don't we continue the story from where we left off, shall we?

Although the film was made in 1989, the present day that the second film is set in is still 1985. October 26, 1985, to be exact.

It is on this date that the ending of the first film takes place...where Doc Brown arrives at the McFly household and tells Marty and Jennifer that they have to take a trip to the future so that they can prevent their children from getting into serious trouble. Marty understands completely what Doc is saying, but Jennifer has the “what are you talking about” look down pat. Regardless, Doc, Marty, and Jennifer hop in the DeLorean time machine and arrive in the year 2015...unaware that Biff Tannen has witnessed the whole thing.

Now, Doc realizes that Jennifer might not react too well to the idea of going ahead in time thirty years, so he hypnotizes her and leaves her in a temporary catatonic state in an alleyway while Doc and Marty go forward with their plan to save Marty's future child, Marty McFly Jr. To do this, Marty swaps places with Marty Jr. (as they both looked exactly the same), in hopes of refusing an offer to cause mischief with Biff's grandson, Griff Tannen (also played by Wilson). Marty successfully does this, but it causes Griff to get into a fight with him. Of course, this ends up being a futile attempt, as Griff and his buddies find themselves getting arrested.

And, that's the end. Happy ending for everyone.

But, WAIT! There's more.

Have you ever had the wish that you wanted to go forward in time a week, take a look at the newspaper listings for winning lottery numbers, record them, go back in time, purchase a ticket for the week ahead, and become an instant millionaire? On the surface, it sounds like an ingenious idea...but remember, changing an event in the future could affect the past (either positively or negatively).

So when Marty purchases a sports almanac in 2015 Hill Valley, which has a complete guide to every sporting event between 1950-2000 (including final scores in games), Doc warns him of that very profiting from time travel could have negative benefits. But before Doc and Marty could dispose of the almanac, the police have picked up Jennifer, and are now taking her to the future McFly household, leaving Doc and Marty to try and rescue her.

Of course, this leads to a pivotal plot development in which Jennifer hides in the McFly household while she witnesses the surreal sight of her future family sharing dinner. A lot of information is doled out at this family dinner, in which it is revealed that future Marty was involved in a car wreck, and that Marty has lost his job thanks to him entering a shady business deal with his co-worker Needles (played by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers). There are several faxes located in the McFly household, and Jennifer grabs one and sticks it in her pocket. But the adventure ends when young Jennifer bumps into old Jennifer, and the two faint. This sets the stage for Doc and Marty to rescue Jennifer and go back in time to 1985.

What they don't realize was that 2015 Biff followed Marty and Doc, pilfered the 2015 almanac, took the DeLorean back to 1955 Hill Valley, gave teenage Biff the almanac telling him to bet on every game that was recorded in the book, and used the DeLorean to go back to the future before Marty, Doc, and Jennifer discovered that anything was wrong.

As a result of this, the 1985 Hill Valley is drastically changed, with Biff being the supreme ruler of the community and the rest of the city in ruins. And, as far as the McFly household goes, his father meets his tragic fate, and his mother ends up married to her worst nightmare!

So, this means that Marty has to go back in time again to 1955, and prevent 2015 Biff from giving 1955 Biff the almanac...without undoing everything that he accomplished in the first film.

Confused yet? Well, here's one more thing to ponder. You know that fax that Jennifer pilfered in 2015 Hill Valley? It plays an important part in the movie we'll be discussing for next week's Monday Matinee.

For now, I thought that it would be fun to take a look at some of the predictions that “Back to the Future: Part II” made, and see how many of them actually came true. I know that 2015 won't be here for a couple of years yet, but since we're so close, we might as well have a look at what the film got right, and what the film got wrong. Things the film got right will be highlighted in green, and things that the film got wrong will be written in red.


Okay, let's face it. In 1989, we were not that skilled with multi-tasking, and back in those days, we could only watch one show at once. But in 2015 Hill Valley, Marty could watch six shows on the same screen. In the real world 2013, thanks to the addition of picture-in-picture technology, as well as DirecTV implementing the technology for people to watch eight football games at once, it's safe to say that this prediction is one that came true.


In 1989, we had skateboards. In 2015, they supposedly had hoverboards, a skateboard that you could ride through the air. As of May 2013, we still don't have hoverboards. We do have segways though. Those things are kind of cool.


If you were to go into the 80s cafe that has opened up in 2015 Hill Valley, you'd see 80s artifacts on display, 80s games in the arcades, and four flavours of Pepsi. You'd have regular Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Max, and Pepsi Perfect. Well, we don't quite have Pepsi Perfect just yet, but Pepsi Max (which is sort of similar to Coke Zero is that it claims to have zero calories, but all the same taste as a regular Pepsi) has been a regular fixture in North America since 2008/2009. So, that prediction came true.

Though there's a part of me that kind of hopes that the 2015 Pepsi logo will actually look like the ones that were shown in the film. No offense to Pepsi, but your current logo is kind of ugly.


This is one that you have to freeze-frame to get. When Marty is looking at a newspaper from 2015 Hill Valley, it makes reference to Queen Diana. Sadly, there's a couple of reasons why this prediction obviously won't come true.

Firstly, Diana was killed on August 31, 1997 following a chase in a Parisian tunnel. So, there was no way that she would have been queen. But even if Diana had lived, chances are that Queen Elizabeth will still be queen in 2015. She's still Queen now in 2013. And, this isn't even taking into account that Charles and Diana officially divorced six years after “Back to the Future: Part II” was released.


I imagine that in 1989, there weren't a lot of people thinking that we would be able to sit down and chat with someone via a video screen. And, well, now we have Skype, YouTube, and all sorts of other Internet sites which allow us to stay connected through video. How's that for a prediction come true?


Hey, remember when laserdiscs first came out in the late 1980s, and how they resembled gigantic CD's, and how they were going to be the biggest thing since the invention of the VCR? Yeah, me either. These days, I'm not even sure that one could find a laserdisc player, let alone a laserdisc. I vaguely remember my elementary school having one back in the early 1990s, and that was probably the only time I remember seeing one. As we well know by now, in 2013, the DVD and Blu-Ray disc has effectively killed the VHS tape (and the laserdisc). And, I would think that by 2015, Netflix and TiVo may send the DVD to its inevitable doom. So, the fact that so many laserdiscs appear in Hill Valley 2015 seems a bit fishy.

Those are just a few of the predictions that “Back to the Future: Part II” made. Seriously, just watch the first half of “Back to the Future: Part II” and make note of everything that was shown. You may be surprised at how many predictions they got right!

Coming up next week, the conclusion of the Back to the Future series.

1 comment:

  1. I actually still have a functional laserdisc player in my home entertainment system and I still watch all of the Back to the Future films on it. The first one is in fullscreen format, but 2 and 3 are in widescreen.