Sunday, July 10, 2011
Old School Movies: Back to the Future Part III (1990)
The Back to the Future series is one of my absolute favourites. However, I've always found the third entry a bit of a strange beast. In some ways I find it unsettling. That's not to say I don't still find it enjoyable, as in some ways it perfectly ends the trilogy. So without further ado, here are my thoughts about Back to the Future Part III.
The film takes off where the 2nd left, with Marty stuck in 1955 after he and Doc had apparently fixed up 1985. The DeLorean, after being struck by lightning, sends Doc all the way back to 1885, which sets the stage for the 3rd film to be a Western. Marty receives a letter from Doc, detailing the location of the DeLorean, and with 1955 Doc's help heads to 1885 to stop 1985 Doc from being killed by Biff's ancestor Buford. I know the BttF films may be filled with time-related issues, but 1985 Doc being killed in the past and 1955 Doc still kicking around fills my mind full of fuck. Like he's dead before he's even born. Anyway.
Not being a huge Western fan, I found the setting of Hill Valley in 1885 interesting, and the set design and costumes are all spot on. It manages to feel pretty authentic. Surprisingly, it doesn't have that dated, cheap feel of some early 90s films, and holds up really well today. The soundtrack is great, with an absolute flogging of the BttF theme. Now the pleasantries are out of the way, I will address some of the issues I have with the film.
Marty meets Seamus, his distant relative, at the beginning of the film. Obviously, he looks like Marty, which is completely reasonable. Why though, does Seamus' wife look like Marty's mum? Did Marty at any stage think to himself, "Hey, she really looks like my mum, that's kind of weird." I feel that it's simply an unnecessary cameo for the woman that plays Marty's mum. Or it could be that there's some weird inbred undertones flowing throughout the movie. Also her accent is shit.
Well, what more needs to be said (I'm going to say it anyway). Mary "Ted Danson's Wife" Steenburgen plays Doc's love interest, and she nearly single-handedly sabotages Doc's character. He goes from being a lovable eccentric scientist to "that guy who becomes a buffoon just because he met a girl." It might be different if she was actually a compelling character, but no. She nearly dies by riding into a chasm but gets saved (a plot point, I suppose), yet suddenly she is a kick-arse horse rider when she's chasing the train when Marty and Doc are trying to get home. Then apparently she's awesome at climbing on to a train moving at 50 miles an hour, can quite easily climb into the driver's seat, but once she has to climb back out and get near Doc she is completely shit. I could happily erase that character from the movie.
So Marty eventually heads home by himself after Doc manages to save Clara by hopping onto a hoverboard even though the train was going 80 miles an hour. The DeLorean is destroyed by a train, and we are treated to a nice scene where Marty considers all that has happened, and how it's all over now the DeLorean is gone. But of course, we get some more exposition to wind things up. 1985 kicks arse, Jennifer is fine, and Biff has been reduced to a blubbering wimp of a car detailer. Which says to me, if someone has been as arsehole to you but you go back in time to change stuff, then they've never actually been an arsehole to you, it's still perfectly okay to take your revenge and make their life shit.
In the dying moments of the film, everything is tied up in a neat little package when Marty, with Jennifer at the place where the DeLorean was trashed, see Doc come back in new time machine. He explains that it "runs on steam," and we see that he and Clara have popped out a few kids. Which leads me to...
What the? issue:
This kid gestures to his junk. Movie ruined as now in that last scene it's all I can see.
In the end, I do still like the movie. It is undoubtedly the weakest of the Trilogy, however. But regardless of the antics in the final scene, it does end on a nice, happy note. Doc gives Marty a photo of them in front of the infamous clock in 1885, which serves as a good ending, symbolic of all their adventures. Knowing that Marty and Doc could possibly have future adventures in the new time-machine always left me hopeful of more Back to the Future, which is probably the biggest compliment I could give the series as a whole.
I give Back to the Future Part III 7 "I hate manure!"s out of 10.