“I did it!” declares Dr. Emmett Brown enthusiastically to his friend Marty McFly as he urges Marty to meet him at the parking lot to witness history. Marty, hurriedly grabbing a couple of equipment that the doctor asked for, rushes to the location on his trusty skateboard. Upon reaching there, he sees Dr. Brown’s trailer. Right next to it is a DeLorean that has been modified with hardware invented by the mad doctor himself. Dr. Brown then guides his dog, Einstein, to the car and sets a specific time in the future. Controlling the car via remote, he tells Marty to “watch this” as the car speeds up then amazingly disappears, resulting in one of cinema’s most magical moments.
Released in 1985, Back to the Future takes place in Hills Valley and follows the life of Marty McFly, excellently played by Michael J. Fox, during his high school years. His friendship with the eccentric and deranged scientist Doctor Emmett Brown, who is played by Christopher Lloyd in an unforgettable role, causes a dramatic shift in his life and alters it forever. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film is an adventure science-fiction picture that also includes comedic moments throughout.
One of the main achievements of Back to the Future is Robert Zemeckis’ superb directing. He gives the film his signature touch and creates a sense of wonder and awe throughout the picture. What I enjoy about his direction is the fact that he knows when to use everything at his disposal to maximum effect. A scene where this is clearly shown is when Marty McFly first sees his dad at the diner in 1955. Here, the camera is focused on Michael J. Fox’s face as it slowly pans to reveal his shock at witnessing a truly weird moment. Such moments are what make Zemeckis unique. He knows how to deliver scenes that are special with complete ease.
A second aspect of the film that provides it with an additional layer of success is the acting. Playing the regular high school teenager, Michael J. Fox delivers his best role ever as Marty McFly. From his earnestness to help Dr. Brown to being transported back in time, he maintains a level of realism and frankness instead of being cheesy and over-the-top. A favorite scene is when he crashes into the barn of Old Peabody and is mistaken for an alien arriving from outer space, a funny and memorable scene.
However, it is Christopher Lloyd who is the star of the film in my eyes. His take on Doctor Emmett Brown is remarkable and he does it with such natural ability that one questions whether Lloyd himself is sane. One scene that sticks out is when he is visited by McFly in the past and is requested to help Marty with a very important task. Lloyd’s quirkiness and craziness combine to give this scene, and the film overall, a quite distinguished element.
The special effects in this film also deserve to be noted. The scenes of the DeLorean zooming and disappearing are almost breathtaking to say the least. They are done with complete realism and hold up very well nearly twenty years later. I especially like the fact that Zemeckis is restrained in his use of the effects and only does so in scenes that need this added factor. The end result is a multitude of scenes that are amazing whilst also moving the plot forward. Such a combination is rare and seldom done as expertly as they are in Back to the Future.
Back to the Future is considered one of cinema’s best science-fiction pictures ever made. The film provides a sense of fun and enjoyment throughout its runtime that is quite rare. It flows easily and moves smoothly. With the superb acting on display, assured and confident directing, excellent special effects and strong storyline, it is not hard to believe how well this film has aged. I always get a delight from watching this picture as it has a very high entertainment factor. A sign of an enduring classic.
Michael J. Fox (as Marty McFly)
Christopher Lloyd (as Dr. Emmett Brown)
1 hour and 56 minutes
Adventure / Comedy / Sci-Fi