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Movies Review

Back To The Future

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Marty McFly and Doc Brown from 'Back To The Future'

© WENN

It should never have worked. The script was turned down by everybody in Hollywood and the creative duo behind the wheel, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, hadn't set the box office on fire with their previous collaboration, Used Cars. Even when it did get in front of cameras, leading man Eric Stoltz was swiftly dismissed as it became evident that he was bringing a little too much intensity to the role of time-hopping high schooler Marty McFly. Yet 25 years on, Back To The Future is now seen as the seminal '80s blockbuster, the decade's crown jewel in popcorn cinema. The movie is getting a UK theatrical re-release to coincide with its anniversary - ahead of its Blu-ray bow later this month - and digitally re-mastered on the big screen it's still as fresh, fun and exhilarating as ever.

Barely a frame feels out of place in director Zemeckis's sci-fi adventure. It's a practically flawless picture that's instantly memorable and iconic, from the gull-wing doors of Doc Brown's DeLorean time machine to Alan Silvestri's stirring score (as good as John Williams in his heyday). Right across the board this is a first class thrill-ride. Anchoring it all is the energetic Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, a rebellious teen who barrels back in time 30 years and must get his mother and father to fall in love or face being erased from existence.

In terms of the story's location, Marty never leaves Hill Valley, yet hurtling back decades drops him firmly in a foreign land. The cultural change may jar for him, but Christopher Lloyd's Doc Brown (mastermind of the flux capacitor) is as much a fish out of water in the past as he is in the present. As Marty explains how his parents first kissed at the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance, Doc's mention of a "rhythmic ceremonial ritual" hilariously paints him as a man eternally out of touch. The impeccable Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson, as George and Lorraine McFly, ignite the movie's romantic fire late on (after Lorraine's squirm-inducing 'park' with her future son) but the real love story is between Marty and Doc. There is no backstory to their relationship; Zemeckis just trusts his audience to accept that they somehow found each other. Lloyd plays Brown so fast and fidgety he's almost a blur. This is in full effect when he's ranting about Ronald Reagan being the President in 1985 (“Who's Vice President? Jerry Lewis?”). They make an odd couple, for sure, but a perfect one at that.

Still astounding is how Back To The Future is able to make almost effortless tonal shifts. Doc's gunning down in the opening scenes soon blends into rosy, Capra-esque sentiment and '50s nostalgia. The awkwardness of Lorraine's incestuous courtship of Marty is expertly played for laughs, so too is sad-sack George's transformation from the weedy nerd to the hero who flattens school bully Biff Tannen with a crunching left hook. The latter sequence kicks off Zemeckis's brilliant final act, cross-cutting and zipping between George winning Lorraine's heart and Marty shredding guitar Pete Townshend-style with Marvin Berry and The Starlighters. The final moments, from the lightning bolt on the clock tower to Doc's declaration that "we don't need roads", display all that's great about BTTF - its seamless blend of action, comedy and human drama.

There were, of course, two sequels. Part II had futuristic gizmos, an ingenious structure that led to a revisitation of its predecessor and a jaw-dropping cliffhanger ending, while Part III paid homage to the Western and triumphantly capped the series with Doc getting the girl. Both were fantastically entertaining, but couldn't quite match the brilliance of the first. That doesn't really matter, though, because the legacy of Back To The Future hasn't been tarnished. It was, is and always will be a true Hollywood classic.


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