July 20, 2015

Five Things I Hated in “Back to the Future-Part II”

It seemed like the ball had barely dropped in Times Square on New Year’s Eve when all the articles about what BTTF Part 2 got right and got wrong came along. Then a few weeks ago came the 30th anniversary of the original film, leading to more tributes and analyses of this fantastic movie trilogy.

So while I would love to discuss those things, it’s already been done. Including a fantastic pod cast on this very site which I urge everyone to listen to if you haven’t. But since this is the anniversary of the original movie, and the future seen in the sequel was set in our current year of 2015 (October 21st to be specific), I had to do some kind of article. I mean, I only adore these films and have only seen them 244 times. I have watched all three back to back a few times, and love it! So the best thing I could think to do would be for me to do another “Things I Hated About” article. I already did it for the first and third movies, so today I will discuss the second. But to be honest these are nitpicky things more than actual things I “hated” in the movie, so I adjusted the title accordingly

You can read my article on the first movie HERE
And my (kinda old) article on the third movie is HERE


Back to the Future II was one of the best movies I have ever sat through. Not because it’s a great movie, but because it is just so much fun. It seems to never stop and has a blast as it’s going. I’m not kidding when I say I’ve seen it a million times. The future part is awesome, the dystopian 1985 is well done, and when we return to 1955 to literally revisit scenes from the original…I mean just fantastic! The original is the superior film, but this one has a very special place in my heart.

But no movie is perfect, and here are five things that do kind of leave me unable to avoid a little nitpicking.

#5.Deleted Scenes They Should Have Kept
Ok maybe this is a cheat, but whatever. Usually when I watch deleted scenes on DVD’s I get why the scene was deleted. Either the scene was stupid or they wanted to get on with the story. But the deleted scenes for this movie bug me. We get Old Marty interacting more with the family including a larger dinner scene and a great line where Marty Sr explains to Marty Jr that when he was a kid when they wanted to watch two programs at once he had to get two TV set’s, Marty running into his brother Dave in the alternate 1985 (setting up where his parents are), Old Biff vanishing after he has returned to the future (establishing the new time line forming), Old Biff talking to Old Terry who reminds him of that day in 1955 (which sets up why Biff would think of that date in 1955 and explains a small plot hole). Finally one do I get is Marty seeing his burned out high school, we were already told that so seeing it isn’t needed. That one makes sense. Maybe they will release a version of this movie with these scenes restored, I’d love that.

#4.Why in the world did Lorraine marry Biff??
I get it from a story point of view but when you think about it, this one is a real mystery. In the Biff-horific 1985 we find that Biff has killed George and married Lorraine. How in the world did this happen? Heck, Marty asks almost this very question when he wakes up to to his mother. And he’s right! I mean, maybe Biff offered to help Lorraine and her kids (he clearly uses blackmail to ensure she doesn’t leave him) but I’m still not sure. Remember, the scene where Biff almost rapes Lorraine and George punches him out still happened in this time line. Not to mention the scene we get later in the movie where she insist she wouldn’t marry him even if he had a million dollars. So she must have been real desperate, or he was just THAT powerful (oh I’ll get to that). Granted the footage of the wedding shows her looking unhappy and Lorraine is a guzzling alcoholic so she is clearly miserable…in fact many fan theories suggest she ends up shooting Biff which is why he vanishes when he returns to 2015. In the first movie it was never made clear she was anything more than an object he wanted, but then it’s retconned a bit in the second movie when Biff screams that they will be together one day as she runs down the street. How in the world that marriage happened at all still baffles me.

#3.Time Travel Stuff Doesn’t Add Up
Why did Marty have to get the Almanac back THE SAME DAY Biff acquired it?  The easy answer is, because the movie would have been more boring. But it’s still an interesting question. I get needing to know the date Biff got the almanac, that makes sense. So young Biff gets the Almanac from old Biff, but doesn’t Marty have all the time in the world to grab it? Why not get it one day when Biff is in school and the almanac is in his house? Or wait for him to come from the dance? Or just wait until that pivotal scene where George punches him? I mean think about all the mess they caused by trying to get the almanac back the same day he got it! Even Doc at one point suggests that maybe they should abort the plan because it’s just getting way to dangerous. Another question is why are Doc and Marty (and Jennifer) unaffected by the change in history? One of the good things about Star Trek is they can techno babble it away when a change in time line does not affect the actual characters. It’s usually something regarding their shields or some other nonsense to explain why they still exist. And it’s Star Trek so we can overlook it. But here…it’s kind of confusing. There is no question that an alternate version of Marty and Doc existed in the new 1985, so how do the prior versions exist? Heck even Old Biff vanishes when he returns to the future (in a deleted scene but still). I buy the ripple effect may have taken time to catch up with the future, but it should have erased them eventually. Right?

#2.Film Doesn’t Have an Ending (or beginning really)
This is one thing that did kind of piss me off. After Doc and Marty finally get the almanac we see the ripple effect has apparently worked, and all is well. Problem is rather than have an ending, where we establish all is well and have resolution to character stuff, we set up the cliffhanger for Back to the Future III (which has the resolutions to this movie). This is fine if you’re planning on watching it next, but if not it leaves the movie feeling incomplete. In Empire Strikes Back the sequel was set up but that story still had a proper ending. In Dark Knight we knew a follow up was coming but that ending works on its own, you don’t feel like you have to pop in the next movie to finish the story. Plus it’s all so forced! The lightning hitting the car (why didn’t Doc land as soon as he could?), Doc ending up where the whole movie has been foreshadowing, and then the Western Union guy bringing the letter which is just so lame. Ok Ok I loved when we flash back to the end of the first movie’s big scene and see Marty run around the corner, I admit it, but it always bothered me that this movie did not have an ending. In a way it has no beginning either since it picks up exactly where the first ended. They don’t even explain anything I imagine how one would feel popping this in with no knowledge of the first at all! This film is truly here just to set up Part III which may be why some are hard on it, since Part I and III feel like whole movies with very satisfying endings and this is just, as Michael J.Fox put it, a bridge between the two.

#1.Too Much Biff!!
This is a common complaint of the movie….and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get it. In the first movie Biff was only in a couple scenes. He was an obstacle, something for our heroes to overcome. Especially George of course. They try to keep that spirit alive in the 2015 scenes, with Old Biff picking on Marty, and Griff who was fun and thankfully not there for long. But as the movie goes on Biff is almost upgraded from a simple bully to uber evil villain status. I mean I get that he became rich thanks to the almanac, but what in the world happened after that? Wouldn’t you just assume he’d buy a huge house and just became a lazy ass? No instead he created an oil empire and became so powerful he even hung out with the rich and famous. This makes no sense! I get the feeling there is another story here somewhere. I mean Biff was a dimwit, and it’s just to hard to believe that stupid kid in 1955 would ever turn into the evil, gun firing, murderous Donald Trump we see in the alternate 1985! This movie isn’t about evil villains like that, it’s way out of step with the first and third film! Why would Biff want to own Hill Valley anyway? Wouldn’t he have moved out of there rather than turning it into a crime zone with a casino hotel in the middle of it? Then when we do go back to 1955, there is still to much Biff. The biggest sin comes in when we re-visit the famous scene when George punches Biff out. This was a major moment for George’s character, and in the second movie it gets shoved aside so the movie can resume the plot. By the final chase in the tunnel (which goes on forever) we’ve had enough of this guy, and if George punching Biff didn’t turn him into a good guy then what was it? I’m sorry but that really hurts that original scene! Finally, what happened to the Biff in the real 1985 who saw the time machine fly away? What exactly did Doc and Marty change to make Biff no longer recall that small detail? Thankfully Part III downplayed Buford, but yeah Part II turned a bully we loved to hate into a villain we had way to much of.

Well that’s it my friends. I may do another Back to the Future article before the year is out, maybe a real tribute, if I come up with an idea (or find someone who wants to collab on one), but for now hope you liked this. And feel free to comment and let argue with me if you have any answers to the points I raised, I may have missed something or you just have a smarter interpretation I never thought of. This was as always just for fun.

I leave you with this scene, which to this day brings a smile to my face.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I have to re-watch these movies one of these days! And I know that I'm in the minority on this one, but I loved the third movie too, because of the Doc/Clara love story.