Spoilers occur throughout…Back to the Future had one of those endings that worked both as a setup for future films, as well as just a cute way to end a time travel movie. Marty’s life looks awesome and then Doc Brown shows up saying they need to fix the future. I suspect that the reality is, it was just meant to be a cute little throw away ending. But then, Back to the Future was a big hit…and both the film makers and audiences wanted to see more. And so they set forward with plans for two sequels.
Back to the future begins right where the first film left off, Doc Brown urgently telling Marty they have to go into the future to do something about Marty’s kid. They bring along Jennifer for the trip to the future, but she becomes so excited by the notion of being able to see her future, the Doc opts to knock her out, telling Marty she will just think it is a dream. Doc tells Marty to go to a local hang out, meet Griff (grandson of Biff) and simply tell him “no”. It turns out that if Marty Jr. goes along with Griff’s peer pressure, he will end up in jail.
But after fixing that potential future, other things go awry. The police find Jennifer and bring her to her future home. Meanwhile, Marty gets the idea to buy a sports almanac so he can go back to the present and make bets based on future knowledge. Doc puts the idea to bed, but someone overheard the idea…and while Doc and Marty go to get Jennifer? Old Man Biff seeks to reverse his fortune.
They return to the present and leave the unconscious Jennifer on her porch. Marty slips in through his bedroom window, only to discover a whole new family is living in the house. After being chased off by an angry father, Marty comes across a newspaper. Certain they came back to the wrong time, Marty discovers that, indeed, they returned to 1985…but everything is off.
Marty is knocked out, and when he awakens (in a scene mimicking the sequence from the first film where he awakens to find his teen mother watching over him) he is startled by a mother who looks very different from before. He is horrified to discover that Biff is his step-father…and Biff is the richest man in America. Biff tries to kill Marty based on a warning from the man who gave him the sports almanac. Doc Brown intervenes and explains to Marty that an alternate timeline has been created.
To fix the timeline, they must go back to 1955 and steal the almanac from young Biff. Then, hijinks ensue. Marty has to get the almanac from Biff, while avoiding Biff’s thugs, yet also save his other self from those thugs. It is a crazy last act, filled with alternative views of sequences from the original film.
The most memorable part of the film for audiences was the future of 2015, where Marty rides a hover board, is wearing self drying clothes and everything is super technologically advanced. And apparently Gale and Zemeckis believed the height of future technology would be TV screen communications, swiping credits cards and…fax machines all over the house, built into walls.
It is a fun sequence though, for my money alternate 1985 is an interesting idea. Biff’s rich and famous routine is absurdly entertaining in it’s obvious allusions to the Donald Trump of the 80’s. And the notion of 80’s nostalgia is certainly not inaccurate.
The film ends on a cliff hanger, with it seeming that they solved the problem of the Dark 1985 timeline, but the Delorean is hit by lightning, causing it to appear as if Doc Brown was incinerated…but it is all a set up for the third chapter. A Western Union guy arrives with a letter addressed to Marty from 70 years earlier.
They introduce a a variation on the photo gimmick from the first film, instead using newspaper clippings. As they make changes, the paper headlines and photos change.
This is a flawed film, mainly because halfway through it just starts to seem endlessly complicated. But, in some ways, I really like it for daring to mess around with it’s formula.