Film Review: Back to the Future Part III (1990)

in #aaalast year


One of the most annoying practices in modern Hollywood is blockbusters ending with a cliffhanger that would force viewers to go watch a sequel only to see such cliffhanger resolved. This technique, however, isn’t new and some of the most celebrated film series in the past have used it in the past. One of the examples occurred in 1989 with second part of Back to the Future trilogy. Thankfully for the fans, director Robert Zemeckis had second and third part of the trilogy shot back-to-back, thus allowing goods to be delivered only few months later with Back to the Future Part III.

The film begins exactly where the second part of the trilogy ended – on November 12th 1955 in Californian town of Hill Valley. Protagonist, teenager and reluctant time traveller Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) remained stuck there after freak accident took time-travelling DeLorean with his mentor, elderly scientist Emmet “Doc” Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd), to 1885. Doc, who had remained stuck in the past, left well-hidden car and instructions that could allow Marty to safely return from 1955 to his home in 1985. Marty, however, changes his mind when he learns that Doc got killed few days after writing letter with instructions. So, instead of going to future he goes to past, hoping to prevent Doc’s murder and with little concern for eventual time paradoxes. He arrives in time when Hill Valley used to be Old West town, finds “Doc”who works as local smith and two of them begin to devise plan how to activate DeLorean for another, hopefully last time travel, to 1985. In the meantime, Marty has to deal with his ancestors, as well with Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen (played by Michael F. Wilson), deadly gunfighter who happens to great-grandfather of his nemesis “Biff”. Things get further complicated for Doc when he meets lovely schoolteacher Clara Clayton (played by Mary Steenburgen) with whom he hopelessly falls in love.

Fans of the trilogy are divided on the issue whether Back to the Future Part III is better than its predecessors. Regardless of the ultimate verdict (which, according to contemporary critics and box office results, was initially in third film’s favour), Zemeckis and his scriptwriter Bob Gale should be given credit for trying something different. Instead of having complicated plot that, like Part II, takes part in present, past, future and alternative present, they opted for something much simpler, partly inspired by wishes of the main star Michael J. Fox to star in western. So, apart from relatively short segments at the beginning and finale, entire film takes place in 1885 and film, for the most part, works as western comedy with whole time traveling science fiction plot serving as a background. That approach works to a degree, but it also shows less creativity and certain laziness among film’s creators. While they had to work hard to create fictional future in 2010s and dystopian alternative 1980s before, here they have simple template of Old West with all of its iconography, but also its cliches. At the very beginning of Marty’s journey to the 1880s film discards any attempt to depict the era realistically and instead opts to fan service to the fans of genres in forms of Marty having to encounter Indians, US Cavalry and even Monument Valley with its iconic scenery being obviously out of place in California. After that, film can’t be taken too seriously. Gale and Zemeckis then continue with fan service for those who liked previous two films and have McFly encountering not only his great-great-grandfather Seamus– again played by Michael J. Fox in a way that displays innovative special effects allowing actor to embody two different characters in same shot – but also ancestors of characters of Principal Strickland (here presented as Sheriff and played by James Tolkan) as well as ancestor of iconic Biff being presented as ultra-violent and unpleasant uber-villain (and played well by Thomas F. Wilson). The most problematic is, however, reintroduction of Lea Thompson, actress who played Marty’s mother and who here plays Marty’s great-great-grandmother Lorraine; scriptwriters, who made her into Seamus’ wife, apparently haven’t thought of genetics and possible Grandfather Paradox. They also missed possible subplot that would have Part III feature ingenious inversion of Marty’s task in *Part I – preventing Lorraine from marrying Seamus and thus allowing for his own mother to be born few generations later.

Lack of creativity is quite disappointing, but Part III compensates that with superb direction, high production values and homage to both classic and spaghetti westerns (the latter in form of Marty using pseudonym “Clint Eastwood” and attire similar to Eastwood’s character in Man With No Name trilogy). Composer Alan Silvestri builds on his old score and adds some western motives. The acting is very good and especially so in case of Christopher Lloyd whose eccentric character actually becomes film’s true protagonist, making Marty looking passive in comparison. But the best part of script is Doc’s character being displayed as a man who falls in love; this allows Lloyd to, quite uncharacteristically for his career, function as romantic lead. He is helped by great chemistry with Mary Steenburgen, charming actress whose character of Clara was written specially for her. Steenburgen is very good, apparently using experiences with her earlier, but very similar role in time-travelling film Time After Time. In the end, Part III is quite entertaining and can be recommended even to the audience that isn’t too nostalgic towards 1980s and iconic film of that decade. One of its finest quality is the finale that provides nice and neat ending to the saga, making any potential future sequel looking unnecessary. Gale and Zemeckis, unlike most of their colleagues in next years and decades, knew when to stop with their film series and leave it on positive note.

RATING: 6/10 (++)

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@drax под нападом сам чопора Хајв фашиста који ме демонетизују зато што шаљем на Хајв и Стимит истовремено. Макар неко време нећу моћи да примам награде преко послатих објава. Молим те, сачекај на мој коментар испод твоје поруке, па одгласај за коментар. Хвала.

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