Going Back in Time with Back to the Future
Released back in 1985, Robert Zemeckis's "Back to the Future" starring Michael J. Fox in the iconic role of Marty McFly is one of those movies which if you ask anyone to mention an 80's movie is likely to turn up. It is one of those family friendly movies which producer Steven Spielberg specialised in during the 80's full of fun, charm and a clever storyline that both entertains and captures your imagination in equal measures. But "Back to the Future" is also a movie which has stood the test of time and is as entertaining today as it was when originally released.
The year is 1985 and after a series of unlikely events, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox - Mars Attacks!) accidentally transports himself back thirty years to 1955 in Doc Emmett Brown's (Christopher Lloyd - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) plutonium powered time machine. Looking destined to be stuck in the past forever, Marty convinces the Doc Brown from 1955 to help him in getting back to the future. But when Marty accidentally changes the course of history by interrupting the events which lead to his parents falling in love, his whole future may no longer exist. With a race against the clock, Marty must help his parents to fall in love before the clock hits 10.04 pm.
The reason why "Back to the Future" is still such a good movie is that it delivers throughout with comedy, action, adventure, sci-fi, a little romance and the ability to merge all of these elements whilst telling a brilliantly concocted story. Unlike many movies, it has no hidden message or over the top humour, or even the feeling that it's a vehicle for just one star. It's just a good family friendly movie which merges many genres so that it appeals to a wide audience from young to old.
One of the best things about "Back to the Future" is that it is so imaginative, often in a humorous but slightly real way. From the time travelling DeLorean through to Marty basically inventing the skateboard when he hits 1955, there are so many moments which are ingeniously inspired. It gives the movie such a wonderful layer of excitement waiting for the next moment to crop up. Something as simple as the scene where Marty pretending to be Darth Vader from the Planet Vulcan is equally inspired as he tries to convince his future father to take his future mother out. It really is packed to the hilt with all these moments which blend brilliantly into the storyline, effortlessly and not in a way that they feel like set pieces.
The inspired ness also goes to the way that it explores the world of time travelling and acknowledges the repercussions on the now of changing events in the past. As with all things in "Back to the Future" it's done in a simple manner, using a photo taken back in time to show that the future is altering, but is both humorous and realistic. It adds another layer of interest to such a fun movie.
Add to this is the energy and pacing of the movie. Rarely does the pace appear to drop and there never seems to be a lull in the action be it the famous skateboard chase scene through the town's square, a fight at the school prom or even just a moment of high comedy. At just short of 2 hours "Back to the Future" is by no means a short movie but never feels dragged out or over long.
Once in a while the storyline and those moments of inspiration seem a little too outrageous, such as the scene where Marty plays "Johnny B Goode" at the prom which leads to Chuck Berry claiming it for his own. It's good but is just a bit too contrived to feel right in what otherwise is an exceptionally good movie.
Now it's well documented that Michael J. Fox was not the first choice to play Marty McFly with Eric Stoltz actually having started filming scenes before it was decided to replace him with Fox. It was a good decision as Michael J. Fox really brings the character of Marty to life, visually appealing for the girls whilst likable for the boys. It really is such a good performance full of energy, enthusiasm and a realism when delivering the lines often in an exasperated, humorous way. But he is equally helped by Christopher Lloyd who is hilariously funny as the eccentric scientist "Doc" Emmett Brown. Like Fox it is a great performance full of energy and humour making it one of the most memorable characters from the 80s. The pairing of Fox and Lloyd works brilliantly full of great interactions and perfect comic timing, it is without a doubt that they make "Back to the Future" such a joy to watch.
Alongside Fox and Lloyd there are more than adequate performances from what are basically a supporting cast despite the importance of their characters. Thomas F. Wilson is brilliant in the slightly over the top bully Biff, as is Crispin Glover who ramps up the nervousness of his character George McFly. Lea Thompson is beautiful and funny as Lorraine as is Claudia Wells as Marty's girlfriend Jennifer. Plus of course there is James Tolkan as the formidable Mr. Strickland. "Back to the Future" really does have such a wonderful array of characters which provide depth to the movie when it comes to the performances.
Of course "Back to the Future" was made over 20 years ago, in the midst of the 80's where fashions were a lot different today, but it has surprisingly aged well. Yes fashions, music and hair styles look old but not in a cheesy 80's way, it could easily have been a movie made in the 90's and more importantly is just as enjoyable to watch today's as it was back when it first came out.
What this all boils down to is that "Back to the Future" is one of the most entertaining movies to have come out of the 80's and has stood the test of time remarkably well. It is a whole combination of things from the comedy, the storyline, the performances and the ingenuity of it which makes it such a wonderful movie full of fun from start to finish. It has a marvellous energy about it which never drops right up until the credits roll. Plus the pairing of Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd is inspired, working brilliantly together in one of the best cinematic pairings in the history of the silver screen.