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Back to the Future (1991)
"You know, you could get into a lot of trouble by going back in time to see your relatives."
Following on from Back to the Future Part III, this animated series continues the adventures of Marty McFly, Doc Brown and his family, and other residents of Hill Valley. It's now 1991 and the Browns - Doc, wife Clara, sons Jules and Verne and dog Einstein - have moved back to the 20th Century. Marty is still dating Jennifer Parker and the two are now in college, but their time travel adventures haven't stopped! Using the new DeLorean and the time train, both of which now can travel through space as well as time, our time travellers explore the past and future, whilst trying not to get into trouble with the various Tannens throughout history! I haven't seen every episode of this series (I've seen 14 out of the 26 episodes made), but from what I have seen so far the series is quite good. For a movie spin-off series, it stays familiar to the original films (unlike some other series from this time) and the characters we know and love from the films transfer well to the series. The animation is mostly of a good standard, and although there are some animation mistakes (as in every series!) it looks visually good, with some good backgrounds. The characters look like their film counterparts, except for Jennifer who for some reason has gone blonde, and Biff who does not look like the 54 year old man he should be by 1991 (here, he looks more like his 18 year old self from 1955). Most of the time the characters act like they did in the films, although some BTTF fans might be slightly annoyed that the main focus of the series is on Jules and Verne rather than Marty and Doc (some episodes do not feature Marty at all). Marty sometimes acts a bit stupider than he was in the films - luckily, moments like this are rare.
Tom Wilson and Mary Steenburgen reprise their roles as Biff Tannen and Clara Brown respectively from the films, and Christopher Lloyd plays Doc in live action sequences beginning and ending each episode, although he does not voice the animated Doc for some reason. Dan Castellaneta, who voices Doc, does a very good imitation though. David Kaufman takes over from Michael J Fox as the voice of Marty, and although his voice isn't *exact*, it is still close enough, although there were times when I thought he didn't sound like Fox that much. The voices of Jules and Verne (neither of whom spoke in their one scene in Part III) are spot-on, with extra praise for Troy Davidson who voices Verne.
Now, onto the episodes. These do vary in quality. Some are very good. Others are not so good. The best episodes in my opinion are those where the time travellers go to some time and end up changing history, and have to change it back (my favourite episode, "Go Fly A Kite", deals with this - in this episode Verne accidentally interferes with Benjamin Franklin's famous "Kite" experiment.). A few episodes did not involve time travel, and in my opinion these were the weakest. However, every episode that I have seen so far has had a few moments that made me laugh or smile, or a line that was funny.
Overall, not a bad series, that although not as good as the films, and despite many continuity flaws (for instance, in the films Doc was 65 in 1985, but according to the series he was 4 in 1926...), still manages to entertain and occasionally educate as well. There were some very good episodes in the series, and a few not-so-good ones, but every episode is worth watching at least once. Luckily, most of them can be watched again and again and can still entertain. 7.5/10.
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
"I'm going back to 1885 and I'm bringing you home!"
Picking up directly where Part II finished off, the DeLorean has been struck by lightning in 1955 and - with the 1985 Doc Brown inside - has been sent back to 1885! Marty McFly is now stranded in 1955, but gets a letter from Western Union from Doc in 1885 saying that he's buried the DeLorean in a mine shaft as he was unable to repair it. Marty finds 1955 Doc once again and they find and repair the DeLorean. Marty is set to go home until he discovers Doc's tombstone. Doc was murdered on September 7th 1885 by Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen! Marty goes back to 1885 to find Doc and rescue him, but first manages to meet and offend Buford Tannen. Buford nearly kills Marty but Doc saves him in time. Mary and Doc have to get back to the future, but the DeLorean has run out of gas and can't get up to 88mph. The only way to do this is to push it with a steam train, but Doc has fallen in love with teacher Clara Clayton and Buford Tannen is out for revenge on Marty. Will the pair get back to where - and when - they belong?
The third and final film in the Back to the Future trilogy is not as good as the first 2, but is by no means a bad film. It is still a very good film, only just beaten by the first two. The Old West is a natural choice as the last time period visited, and Part III also manages to resolves most of the unanswered questions left by Part II.
Once again, Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson and Tom Wilson return, and in Part III they are joined by Mary Steenburgen as Clara Clayton. Steenburgen is a good addition to the series and she fits in very well. Most of the characters are brand new for this film, although Fox, Wilson and James Tolkan all play ancestors of their characters from the first 2 films, and Lea Thompson plays Maggie McFly, Marty's great-great-grandmother. Familiar characters such as Lorraine McFly, Biff Tannen and Jennifer Parker do not reappear until the end of the film, back in 1985, and after seeing so much of them in the first 2 films this one does suffer a bit without them. But obviously, since this is before any of them are born, they cannot appear, and the new characters are almost as good and the "regulars" manage to play their 1885 characters (Fox for instance plays Seamus McFly, Maggie's husband, in 1885 as well as Marty) convincingly.
The plot is quite similar to the first - Marty goes back to the past (1885/1955), manages to upset a Tannen (Buford/Biff), has problems getting back to 1985 (no gas/no power), and there is a love story (Doc and Clara/George and Lorraine). Despite the similarities, this film is different in other places. For example, Marty and Doc switch roles - now it is Marty who is the more responsible one and Doc who acts like a lovestruck teenager with Clara. Marty must also deal with parts of his personality that get him into trouble (ie reacting when someone calls him chicken), and his life is in danger at times as well. The plot is not as technological as Part II, and there are less risks of paradoxes, as it relies more on the human sides of the story like Part I did.
The train sequence near the end as they try to push the DeLorean up to 88mph is one of the most exciting scenes in the trilogy, and just like the lightning bolt in 1955 in Part I, things don't go to plan! The filmmakers also took a very bold move when the DeLorean gets destroyed once Marty is home safely in 1985. This was their way of saying "No more BTTF movies!", and I must agree with them here despite being a huge fan of the trilogy, because Part III manages to conclude the story so well that a Part IV would ruin it. All the same, it is very sad when it does get destroyed.
Marty, in 1885, calls himself "Clint Eastwood" which is an amusing little joke, although hearing everyone calling him "Mr Eastwood" might get a bit weary after a while. There are plenty of in-jokes and references to other Western films in this film for the audience to spot.
Alan Silvestri once again does a good job with the music, putting a Western twist on the familiar BTTF theme and also, as before, managing to get the right emotions at the right times. There are only 2 songs in this movie, "The Power Of Love" from Part I, and "Doubleback" by ZZTop, as well as some contemporary music in 1885, and I feel they could have put a song in the 1955 part of the film, since there are few references we are in 1955 at this point of the film, but that is just a minor quibble.
Overall, a good conclusion to the trilogy that although not as good as the first 2 films is still a very good film with something for everyone. 9.5/10.
Back to the Future Part II (1989)
"You've gotta come back with me!"
Picking up directly where Part I finished off, Doc Brown arrives in his DeLorean time machine to take Marty McFly and girlfriend Jennifer Parker to 2015, where their future kids Marty Jr and Marlene are in trouble and only Marty can save them. Marty poses as Marty Jr to get his son out of trouble and achieves this, although not quite as he and Doc had planned! Biff Tannen, now 78, manages to steal the time machine and goes back to November 12th 1955, where he gives his 18 year old self a sports almanac with results from 1950-2000. Marty and Doc return to 1985 to find that Biff is rich and powerful after using the almanac to place bets, and after having murdered Marty's father George is married to Marty's mother Lorraine! The only way to fix things is to once again go back to 1955 and get the almanac off 1955 Biff - but without interfering with any of the events from Part I, and avoiding any lightning bolts when your time circuits say "January 1st 1885"!
Usually with sequels, they pale in comparison to the original. This one is an exception in that as in may cases it is literally the same as the original! Part II is a very thought provoking sequel with lots of plot twists and turns, and the various times visited, and not running into your older self, that it is one of the best and most original sequels out there. Be warned though, you may not understand parts of it unless you've seen Part I.
Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson and Tom Wilson all return from Part I, and each of them is just as good as their roles as they were in Part I. Tom Wilson especially manages to play all the different versions of Biff, as well as Griff Tannen in 2015, very well. Lots of supporting cast members from Part I also return, and it is like hanging out with old friends again.
Many critics think that Crispin Glover's decision not to return (he played George McFly in Part I) spoilt the film, but I think it made it better. Nothing against Glover, he is a very good actor, but since the writers did not have Glover, they wrote him out by creating the alternate 1985 where George is dead. This also leads to the brilliant (and unique) idea of going back to 1955, and watching events from the first film from a different perspective. You also get to relive scenes such as George (played by Jeffrey Weissman) punching Biff, and the Johnny B Good scene, once more.
A bit on the future. The real 2015 will be nothing like the 2015 we see on screen, and that is a bit of a disappointment, as 2015 is very lively and colourful. Hoverboards, flying cars, thumbprint IDs - they're all there, and it is a future you would want to live in. Hill Valley in 2015 certainly IS a nice place to live! The fates of the characters in 2015 - a little different. Jennifer discovers Marty grows up to be stuck in a dead end job, having thrown his life down the toilet after an accident in 1985. This idea of the main character's life not being what he expected it to be in Part I is a good and amusing one. Part II also saw the debut of the VistaGlide system which allowed one actor to play 2 or more characters at once, and it works so well you can hardly tell where the split is.
The music score is based on the Part I score and is still very good. I like the darkness of the 1985-A music, and the optimism of the 2015 music. There are more songs, only fewer in Part II, although what ones they do have are very good.
Overall, a thoughtful and original film that tells a story whilst leaving questions for Part III to answer. This was the first time 2 movies were filmed back to back, and Parts II and III compliment each other. The cliffhanger ending was also a brave move by the filmmakers, making you wonder what will happen next. 10/10.
Back to the Future (1985)
"Are you telling me you built a time machine.....out of a DeLorean?"
Marty McFly is your average teenager, living in Hill Valley, CA, in October 1985. He likes rock music, has nerdy parents, has a beautiful girlfriend Jennifer - oh, and his best friend is eccentric scientist Dr Emmett L Brown. One night, Doc Brown calls Marty to the mall to record his latest experiment - a time machine built into a DeLorean sports car! Unfortunately, an encounter with some Lybian terrorists means Marty is accidentally sent back to November 5th 1955, where he interferes with his parents' first meeting. Marty finds the 1955 version of Doc Brown and they discover Marty's future mother Lorraine has a crush on him rather than on his future father, the wimpy George McFly! Local bully Biff Tannen is also causing trouble for Marty. Marty has just one week to get George and Lorraine together, defeat Biff and get himself back to the future using the bolt of lightning that will strike the clocktower at 10.04pm on November 12th 1955.
OK, now the plot is out of the way, I shall review the film. This is one of the best films I have ever seen, if not the best. The actors play their characters well, the storyline is gripping and engaging, and the filmmakers have managed to create the 1950's successfully.
The cast are perfect for their parts. Apart from Michael J Fox, the other main cast members all play their characters at 2 different ages, 30 years apart, and they all convincingly play the older versions of their characters. Special mention must go to Tom Wilson who is excellent as bully Biff Tannen, and of course Christopher Lloyd - no-one could play Doc Brown as well as Lloyd, with the waving of arms and the scientific speech - it is the part Lloyd was born to play. Although not technically a "character", the DeLorean time machine looks very scientific, yet also looks like it could fall apart any minute since it was built in Doc Brown's garage! I personally think it looks futuristic (and so do the Peabody family in 1955, when they see it they think it is a UFO!) and yet very stylish.
The story is engaging and the filmmakers have a lot of "set it up, play it off" moments, which make you remember to earlier in the film. Example: Marty fails a guitar audition with his band in 1985, but manages to wow the crowds whilst playing "Johnny B Goode" in 1955. Although the idea of time paradox is not really examined at until the sequels, there are hints of it here for all the scientific people out there. :-) Various one-liners, in-jokes and jokes about the differences between 1955 and 1985 are scattered throughout the film.
Alan Silvestri's score is one of the best he's done, and he manages to capture what the audience should be feeling at that time. The race to the clocktower near the end of the film has suspenseful, action music; whilst the scene where George and Lorraine get together has romantic, feel good music. The main theme is very catchy and you'll be humming it for quite a while! Various songs from the 1950's and 1980's are used, including "The Power Of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News.
Overall, a very good film that launched the movie career of Michael J Fox, and was one of the smash hits of 1985. It'll be a classic for all time. :-) 10/10.
"Another science fiction show cancelled before it's time."
It's such a shame that Futurama has been cancelled, for I feel the producers and cast had a lot more episodes planned and a lot more stories to tell.
I don't know why FOX cancelled Futurama, other than:
1) It's funny - much funnier than most other programmes on the network.
2) It's intelligent - the science fiction references for instance (some of the writers have PhDs!).
3) You care about the characters, each one is different and interesting in their own ways. Unlike many other cartoons, there has been a lot of character development.
4) There is a sense of continuity (the characters age, unusual in a cartoon, and there are various stories that spread out throughout different episodes, such as the Fry/Nibbler one).
5) The show has something for everyone - comedy, drama, romance, sci-fi, farce.
6) It is entirely original.
7) The animation is amazing.
8) IT'S FUNNY!
Yep, I can see why FOX cancelled it.
Start watching Futurama and you'll be hooked. Episodes to look out for in particual are the pilot, "Space Pilot 3000"; "Luck Of The Ftyrish", "Roswell That Ends Well" (this one won an Emmy!), "The Why Of Fry", "Anthology Of Interest I" and "Xmas Story".
Wonderful animated comedy
This show is a must see! It's a satirical review of the week's news and has a great cast of characters, including George Bush and his best friend, a sock puppet; the Beckhams; the Blairs and big John Prescott and many more. Animation's great, voices great, show - GREAT!
You must watch this show.
One of the best comedies I've ever seen. Full of great one liners and the plots are funny and inventive. I would recommend that everyone sees this comedy. It will help Ted Danson put the ghosts of Sam Malone to rest, as surely he must be remembered not as Sam but as Becker! The supporting cast are great too.