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FRANCHISE ME: BACK TO THE FUTURE II

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
by Joshua Miller: link

In which we learn that maybe you really can't go back again.
post #2 of 19

Great article as always, Joshua.  My comment from the page:

 

My biggest problem with II stemmed from the end of I…why in the hell would they need to go to the future to fix anything?  It hasn’t happened yet, so who gives a crap.  At the end of I, Marty should have said “Doc, I just got back, and I’m about to spend a week spelunking Jennifer by the lake, in my new Toyota.  Piss off.”  I like III way more than II for that reason.  II just never made any sense to me.

post #3 of 19

Good stuff, Josh. I love BTTF2 for all its craziness - it's one of those rare times where trying too hard can actually lead to something enjoyable, even if it is a bit of a mess. It's such a strange mixture of the smart, mechanically sound writing the Bobs showed in the first film, and a bunch of shit that they threw in for reasons nobody can work out.

Honestly, sequelizing ANY time-travel story is asking for trouble. As a genre/storytelling trope it's already so easy to get into logical quicksand, just making one story work to the extent BTTF does is an achievement in itself. the fact that they not only did so but actively made everything MORE complicated was frankly, fucking insane. This film loses the narrative focus of the original, but almost makes up for it with a sheer stream of consciousness spew of ideas that makes the film a lot of fun.

What stands out about the movie most for me is how dark the film gets when they return to the now Biff-ized 1985. Marty confronting lorraine with Biff, george in the cemmetery - they don't flinch at the fucked-uppness of it all, and while the tonal skew after the frivolousness of the 2015 section should drag the film to a halt, Fox and Wilson especially do a fantastic job of selling it.

But the Marty 'chicken' stuff never worked. You nailed it exactly - it was a character thing they chucked in there to create situations to justify continuing the story. The fact that they kind of treat it like a weirdly-pitched recurring gag (Like a callback to something that was never part of Marty's personality to call back on in the first place) just makes it feel flimsier.   


Edited by Workyticket - 1/8/13 at 8:49pm
post #4 of 19

Back to the Future Part II.

 

This is a pretty dead-on analysis.  The 2015 scenes are funny, but they don't have a lot of momentum and seem to drag on (it's something like 40 minutes before Marty and Doc leave).  Once the film hits 1985, though, it's full steam ahead and a ton of fun.

 

I'm surprised you left out the biggest 'goof' of all -- if Marty and Jennifer disappeared in 1985, how are they around in 2015 to have those lives?

 

I'll be the one who stands up for the 'chicken' thing.  It doesn't conflict with anything in the first, and Marty does need some sort of arc (he never really got one in the original film).  I also think the resolution of it in Part III is quite good.


Edited by The Dark Shape - 1/8/13 at 8:49pm
post #5 of 19

I feel like Crispin Glover's George McFly is the heart and soul of BTTF, and his odd duck charm is missed in the sequels. It offends me that the Bobs used a look-a-like for part 2. It's a cheap tactic, and a slap in the face to an actor who did remarkable work for them previously. They were rightly sued.

post #6 of 19

I'd take the look-a-like over no George McFly at all.  Really, I find the new guy's reading of "Are you okay?" more offensive than anything else.

post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Workyticket View Post

Good stuff, Josh. I love BTTF2 for all its craziness - it's one of those rare times where trying too hard can actually lead to something enjoyable, even if it is a bit of a mess. It's such a strange mixture of the smart, mechanically sound writing the Bobs showed in the first film, and a bunch of shit that they threw in for reasons nobody can work out.

Honestly, sequelizing ANY time-travel story is asking for trouble. As a genre/storytelling trope it's already so easy to get into logical quicksand, just making one story work to the extent BTTF does is an achievement in itself. the fact that they not only did so but actively made everything MORE complicated was frankly, fucking insane. This film loses the narrative focus of the original, but almost makes up for it with a sheer stream of consciousness spew of ideas that makes the film a lot of fun.

What stands out about the movie most for me is how dark the film gets when they return to the now Biff-ized 1985. Marty confronting lorraine with Biff, george in the cemmetery - they don't flinch at the fucked-uppness of it all, and while the tonal skew after the frivolousness of the 2015 section should drag the film to a halt, Fox and Wilson especially do a fantastic job of selling it.

But the Marty 'chicken' stuff never worked. You nailed it exactly - it was a character thing they chucked in there to create situations to justify continuing the story. The fact that they kind of treat it like a weirdly-pitched recurring gag (Like a callback to something that was never part of Marty's personality to call back on in the first place) just makes it feel flimsier.   

I feel like II wants us to think back to the cafeteria scene in the first one when Marty stands up to Biff and they grab each other's shirts as the first "chicken" scene, but that does rob Marty of his nice guy bravery if he's acting out of anger.

 

Something that's probably been discussed before but I've found fascinating in recent years is Marty goes without classification in an era that defined High School clique stories. He rides a skateboard and has a rock band, but doesn't come across as a punker or juvenile. His family v. 1.0 come across as white trash, but he's a nice kid and has a cute, respectable girlfriend. Even with all that in mind, Mr. Strickland still hassles him like he's Bender from The Breakfast Club or something.

 

Never quite got that. 

post #8 of 19

The article's dead on, but this is definitely one of those films--well, franchises--where inherently having timetravel be an element already means you're dabbling in the ridiculous, and I'm able to just run with whatever they want to do. I logically know everything wrong headed and tonally inconsistent and off about BTTF II. It's still one of my favorite sequels ever just for the sheer "fuck it, let's just go for it" full speed ahead Zemeckis and Gale took with the story, just to watch Zemeckis and Gale run rings around their own universe. The first film may have had more to say, and better, direct throughline, this is Zemeckis falling in love with its infinite possibilities, logic be god damned. Any filmmaker with the balls to go this far for broke will have my heart. It may not be an objectively better film than its predecessor, but I love it more.

 

This is also the same logic that keeps my love for Temple of Doom, Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, and Gremlins 2 evergreen.

 

And even with all that said, the "chicken" thing never worked for me either.

post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Dark Shape View Post

I'm surprised you left out the biggest 'goof' of all -- if Marty and Jennifer disappeared in 1985, how are they around in 2015 to have those lives?

 

 

Indeed! Though even I need to draw the line somewhere!

post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Dark Shape View Post

I'd take the look-a-like over no George McFly at all. 

 

This. I couldn't come up with a better solution to try and explain no George McFly at all. I think it was the only way they could go without blatantly dropping the character altogether like some sequels with a line like "Oh, he's away on vacation" or "He's dead" which would've been much more insulting to the character in my eyes.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bartleby_Scriven View Post

Even with all that in mind, Mr. Strickland still hassles him like he's Bender from The Breakfast Club or something.

 

Never quite got that. 

 

 

I get the feeling that Mr. Strickland harasses everyone, even Marty's father who poses no threat yet calls him a slacker too. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Dark Shape View Post

I'm surprised you left out the biggest 'goof' of all -- if Marty and Jennifer disappeared in 1985, how are they around in 2015 to have those lives?

 

It's true that it doesn't make too much sense but I think they explained it somewhat that Marty and Jennifer would eventually get back to 1985 so that their lives in 2015 would still exist. 

post #11 of 19

I borderline HATE this film.  The first one is amazing and the third one is good, but the second one is an endurance test.

- The future doesn't feel real.  It's a riff on 80s over-marketing, nothing more.  I never bought for a moment that the actors were on anything other than a set.

- The obnoxious way of Griff speaking is like nails on a fucking chalkboard.

- Alternate 1985, much like the future, doesn't feel real.  It always feels like a set and is overloud with yelling, screaming, and other crap going on.

- How in the fuck does future Biff understand how to drive the DeLorean back to 1965?  Was there a damned manual in the time machine?

 

The stuff in 1965 is pretty solid, and is the only thing that matches the fun tone of the original.  Everything else is borderline unwatchable.

post #12 of 19
I think my affection for this sequel is its kitchen sink approach. We go to the future, an alternate present day, and then back to the first movie for more capering around. Where so many sequels during that period were content to remake the first film, BTTF II revisited the original in a way that was wholly unique.
post #13 of 19
Another fantastic read, Joshua!

Part II is ludicrously shrill. Often unpleasantly so. But I still like it for its latter half.
post #14 of 19

The alternate 1985 is also somewhat a homage to It's a Wonderful Life, one of Robert Zemeckis's favorite films.

 

post #15 of 19

Love it.

post #16 of 19

Alright, everyone dumps on this because Doc takes Marty into the future to fix his kids.  Pretty stupid right?  But we know Doc isn't stupid. 

Is it possible Doc went to the future and saw Marty's unhappy life stemming from the car crash?   He then decides to get Marty minutes BEFORE the car crash and take him on a trumped up bullshit journey all to TEACH him a lesson. (You know, don't be goaded into a fight because someone calls you chicken, duh)  All of Doc's "Hurry hurry we don't have much time" is because at any moment Marty might pull out of the driveway in his Toyota and smash a Rolls Royce.  Doc knows some lessons can't be TOLD, you have to learn them.  Doc could have said, "Marty, in 5 minutes you're going to street race into a Rolls" but time always tries to correct itself UNLESS Marty changes that action for himself.  Now, it didn't quite go as planned of course, but BOTH of BTTF 2 and 3 are Doc's attempt to teach Marty into changing that drag race decision. 

Doc is that smart.  AND it worked. (at the end of 3, Doc builds super train with Clara, they have 2 kids and go to the future, convert that train to a flying train and see that Marty learned his lesson.  Then come back to find Marty at Delorean crash sight) 

That Doc is a smart fella.

post #17 of 19

I can't believe I am almost 30 and its only by this article that I know that Fox played his Daughter in the future. Cannot Unsee.

 

Otherwise, great article in a great series of articles. Love these movies so very much, and I can't wait for your take on number 3.

 

Also, as a youngn I had no issue with the whole 'Chicken' thing. It was a nice (yet dumb now that I'm old) to showcase some Anger Issues that wrapped up when he didn't race Needles.

post #18 of 19

Fantastic stuff as always, Joshua. Really  enjoying your musings on the BTTF franchise.

 

Interesting that you dug the 'joke' of Marty stumbling into the black girl's bedroom in the dystopian 1985, as for me this moment pretty much encapsulates the worst qualities of Part 2. It just feels too dark and nasty when compared to the breezy original (and, indeed, the sun-drenched, six-shooting finale), and doesn't sit well next to Fox's dreadful attempts at multiple character comedy.

post #19 of 19

I honestly quite like the sorta-nasty turn it takes. It teeters on ridiculousness to be sure, but I think Fox sells Marty's anguish well and it's anchored by Wilson, who's not afraid to take Biff's bullying tendencies and push them to the absolute furthest they'll go. Biff in that section really is your average common-or-garden-variety bully given limitless power and no moral checks whatsoever. Wilson's arguably the MVP of the whole film, with three different versions of the same character (Four, if you technically count Griff) who have very diffferent behaviours and experiences behind them, but are still recognisably the same person. I honestly don't understand what happened to the guy's career after these movies, because he has talent to burn.

I think the Bobs let the dark stuff run for just about as long as it needs to, and I think it's meant to stick out. BTTF may be a generally whimsical series, but I think 'dark 1985' intentionally acts as counterpoint to the light-hearted stuff to establish the point that time travel isn't just a potentially dangerous thing to Marty himself (As covered by the photograph/fading in the first movie) but to everyone connected to him. It further drives home why Doc talks so much about the possible ramifications of messing around with time too much.

'Course, it's not like Doc listens to his own advice, but hey...

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