Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Trilogy Review

Kevin EK

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XenForo Template Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Trilogy Review

Marking its 30th Anniversary, the Back to the Future trilogy returns to Blu-ray, looking identical to its last appearance five years ago, albeit with an additional disc of bonus features. The most important thing to note here is that the actual Blu-ray discs for the three movies at hand here are the exact same ones we saw in 2010. If you have already collected that set, the only new material here is the fourth disc. There’s some fun material there, but I don’t know that it’s enough to justify a whole new purchase.


Cover Art


Studio: Universal

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/VC-1

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Rating: PG

Run Time: 1 Hr. 56 Min. (Original Movie), 1 Hr. 49 Min. (Part II), 1 Hr. 59 Min. (Part III)

Package Includes: Blu-ray, Digital Copy

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: ABC

Release Date: 10/20/2015

MSRP: $49.98




The Production Rating: 3/5

Given that I have already reviewed this trilogy once, I’m going to quote a bit from the earlier review, adding in new material where appropriate. This is a trilogy I continue to revisit and enjoy on disc, and my thoughts about it have not changed since I last wrote on this subject in 2010.

It’s strange to be talking about the 25th Anniversary of Back to the Future when I remember seeing the movie in the theater around the time that it first opened in Los Angeles. I remember having a lot of fun at that screening, and particularly enjoying the tongue-in-cheek ending that practically screams for a sequel. And I remember wondering how the heck the filmmakers would top what I had just seen. Of course, things didn’t exactly work out in the manner I had thought at the time, but the resulting trilogy is never less than interesting, and the third film is a refreshingly sweet piece of work. I’ll discuss a bit more about the movies in the next paragraph, but I’ll cut right to the chase first.

 

The Back to the Future trilogy makes its return to Blu-ray with this release, timed not only to the 30th Anniversary of the original film’s release, but also to the moment in 2015 where the second film played out its first act. The new release incorporates everything from the 2010 trilogy release, porting over the exact content found on each of the three movie discs. A fourth disc has been included for this collection, containing about 35 minutes of new material, along with what looks like an earlier pass at the bonus features included on the 2010 discs, and two episodes of the animated series based on the movies. If you already purchased the 2010 set, the only new content here is on that fourth disc. And if you were unhappy with the picture on the 2010 set, you should be aware that nothing has changed for the 2015 release. The real question is whether you’ll want to purchase this set just to get the new materials on the fourth disc.

 

Getting back to the content of the actual movies:

 

Looking back at Back to the Future, it’s hard to keep in mind that the movie was essentially made as a comic romp, using a sci-fi catalyst from “mad scientist” Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) to project Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) 30 years into the past, to encounter his parents (Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson) when they were roughly his age. Since his initial meeting with them potentially causes his parents never to meet (and thus negates his own existence), Marty spends the movie not only trying to get back to 1985 but also trying to play matchmaker for his own parents. The fun of the movie is that it never takes itself seriously – in fact, it delights in going over the top in as many ways as possible, usually involving either a quadruple take by Doc Brown or a delightfully strange line reading by Crispin Glover as the henpecked George McFly. The ending of the first film has had different receptions depending on the mindset of the viewer. When I first saw it in 1985, I thought this was a pure wish-fulfillment ending, with Marty having somehow changed his family for the better, only to be yanked out of time once again by Doc Brown. Looking at the ending today, I can clearly see that this was intended more as an ironic joke on 80s materialism, and that the triumphant ending of the flying DeLorean time machine is more of a punchline than a signal of future stories. As is now acknowledged by the filmmakers, no sequels were seriously contemplated until Back to the Future became not only a monster hit, but the highest grossing film of 1985. (And I should note that this was in a summer of no less than 3 Steven Spielberg-produced movies – for the record, the others were The Goonies and Young Sherlock Holmes.) With that big of a hit, it was a no-brainer that somebody would get Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale to figure out where and when the flying DeLorean went, and what the consequences might be.

 

Near the holiday season of 1989, Back to the Future Part II premiered in theaters, and I recall getting into a theater to see it on its opening weekend. When the movie ended, I remember a feeling of vague disappointment, tempered only by the trailer for Part III tacked onto the end credits. Looking over the movie today, that sense of disappointment is magnified. Part II starts out with a quick answer to the end of Part I, with our heroes arriving in a cartoonish vision of 2015 that is so far removed from our current reality that the intended satire lands with a lot more punch. After a few funny references to the 80s, the movie actually replays a series of set pieces from the first film, only this time within the new futuristic setting – including Marty’s introduction to the town square and the local soda shop, and a replay of the town square skateboard chase using hover technology. Things then switch to a dark vision of the “present day” of the movies, as we learn that the trilogy’s villain, Biff (Thomas F. Wilson) has managed to change history to better his own fortunes at the expense of everyone else. This is the one original segment in the film, but even today it still leaves a pretty nasty aftertaste. To solve this problem before it happens, the film has Doc Brown and Marty return to 1955 for a replay of the climactic events of Part I that generates some laughs and a lot more confusion. (There is a precedent for this in that the end of the first film finds Marty seeing himself in a scene from earlier in the film – for the second film, this situation is multiplied tenfold.) Once things have apparently been put right once again, another freak accident provides the catalyst for the third chapter in the trilogy. I should note that one of the big problems I had here stems from a sudden change in the primary characters, particularly Marty. Where in the first film, we see him as the discouraged son of a never-do-well family (“No McFly has ever amounted to anything in the history of Hill Valley”, etc…), but we can see he has a pretty decent head on his shoulders. Once we get into the sequels, we are asked to accept that Marty’s hitherto-unrevealed Achilles Heel is that he loses all self-control if anyone ever calls him a chicken. This is a setup for the major problem of the third film, but it also comes completely out of left field. At the same time, we are asked to accept that the meek and mild Biff of the end of the first film is actually a villain waiting to pounce – which effectively obviates the point of what happened to him. Further, the loss of both Crispin Glover and Claudia Wells takes a bit of the steam out of the enterprise. Glover’s performance is one of the most blissfully odd ones I have ever seen, and at the same time, it’s quite moving. Wells’ Jennifer is a quieter and more subtle interpretation of the character than would be seen in the sequels, and one wonders how her performance might have worked out. Finally, and I realize this one is due to the sequels not having been thought about in advance, the entire initial premise of Back to the Future Part II flies in the face of what was set up in the punchline ending of the first film.

 

The final film in the trilogy, Back to the Future Part III, is a welcome respite from the trickery of the second film. While it revisits a few of the touchstones of the original film, it also recasts many of them in terms of a classic Western, which the film effectively sends up for much of its running time. The film quickly sends Marty off from 1955 to 1885, where the real plot unfolds for Marty and the Doc. There’s still a lot of the familiar comic references: Marty takes the name “Clint Eastwood” to travel incognito, but also manages to use some great tricks from the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns to stay alive. But there are also some clever reinventions of the characters and character types we have seen. Biff the school bully is here represented by his ancestor, a “Mad Dog” gunman terrorizing the just-forming town of Hill Valley. The strict school principal is here the marshal of the town. And the set piece to power the famous DeLorean up to 88 miles per hour is a truly inspired idea, which makes for a thrilling climax to the inset western we’re watching. The conclusion of the film (and the trilogy) feels a bit dated today, and it certainly owes a major debt to the conclusion of The Wizard of Oz. But even though the situation is preposterous on its face, the ending still brings a smile to the face and a good feeling.

 

Taken today as a trilogy, the films clearly show their age and their roots in the 80s. They’re still a lot of fun, particularly the first film, and there’s still a lot of invention onscreen in the third film, to run the risk of a terrible pun here. If you saw the films in the theaters over 20 years ago, there’s an almost doubly nostalgic effect from watching them today. The movies themselves are nostalgic for a fantasy version of the 1950s, and these days, we can see in them a kind of fantasy version of the 1980s. Younger viewers may not find as much to identify with, and they may not be as impressed with the effects or the set pieces, but I think there’s a solid throughline of clever scriptwriting, and some very appealing characters, again particularly in the first and third films. I would certainly recommend readers who haven’t seen these films to at least rent the first one, and if they have as good a time as I think they will, to continue on to the others.

 

With this second release on Blu-ray, the Back to the Future trilogy has now been released on DVD three times, and released on Blu-ray twice. As noted above, the actual movie discs here are the same ones we saw in 2010. The new Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Trilogy Blu-ray has been offered in a couple of different options for the consumer. The first option, which was presented to Home Theater Forum for review, includes the three movie discs, along with a fourth disc with additional bonus content. The second option is an 8-disc affair of Back to the Future: The Complete Adventures that comes in flashier packaging, including a replica of the famous Flux Capacitor on the cover) and the entire animated television series, as well as a visual history book. Back in 2010, I recommended that trilogy set for purchase, given the history of the series, its first appearance in HD, and the generous spread of bonus features. I can’t do the same thing here, given that we’re really just looking at new packaging of the same discs we saw before. If you’re a fan of the movies and didn’t pick up the earlier set, it’s simply a question of whether the bonus material on the fourth disc is interesting enough – or if you’re also a fan of the animated series.



Video Rating: 3/5  3D Rating: NA

I’m going to quote my picture assessment of the earlier set, since the discs are identical. But I want to note that I have watched all three of the movies on my current setup of a 65” Panasonic plasma, and have not noted the kinds of problems that were complained about back in 2010. I think it’s fair to say that these are not reference quality transfers – as Robert Harris has pointed out, they’re just fine. The kind of love just shown for Spartacus and My Fair Lady has not been demonstrated here. On the other hand, I wouldn’t expect that many movies in any studio’s catalogue to get that level of detailed attention. The movies here look fine – particularly if you’re watching them as a fan and not as an HD transfer expert. I discussed these transfers with Joe Kane a couple of years back, and he was able to point out multiple issues he had with them. For an expert, these issues can seem glaring. For the rest of us, who are not experts in that area, these transfers can suffice as the best we are likely to get – and they’re honestly not the kinds of problems we have seen in Blu-ray like the 2010 Spartacus or the 2012 The Sting.

 

Going back to my 2010 assessment:

 

Back to the Future 25th Anniversary Trilogy is presented in a trio of 1080p AVC 1.85:1 transfers that reveal a lot of fine detail in addition to a lot of fine grain, depending on the shot in question. I have to acknowledge that the grain level is not consistent on a shot-by-shot basis. Some shots, particularly ones that do not involve visual effects, have much more noticeable grain than others. For example, a late hallway scene between Marty and his teenage parents after the big dance has quite noticeable grain to it. A late series of shots of the DeLorean in the third film also has noticeable grain to it, while also showing more detail to the car’s front end than I believe I have ever seen before. At the same time, I also noticed a little trouble when it came to rendering things like Marty’s coat during his big guitar performance in the first film, or the DeLorean’s wheel details in the second film – but I have to acknowledge that this issue may be a result of my HDTV doing 3:2 pulldown. I’m going to take a moment here to address something brought up in a thread here at HTF – where a review from another site mentioned that they felt that in the first film, in the scene where Marty and Doc Brown suit up and reload the plutonium into the DeLorean, that it was felt that the scene had been “scrubbed clean” of grain, and that the actors look like “mannequins” and that the environment looks like a “digital creation”. Having specifically watched that scene just now for myself, I’m going to respectfully differ with that opinion. On some shots – a close-up of a glass canister ejecting the plutonium into the vehicle, I did not see grain on the glass. But I did see a low level of grain in all the shots around that one. And the actors absolutely did not look like mannequins! I’ll be happy to listen to the readers of this forum if they should disagree on this point, but I think that these transfers are quite good. I should note that I am watching the film on a 40” Sony XBR2 HDTV.



Audio Rating: 4/5

Quoting again from the 2010 review:

 

 

Back to the Future 25th Anniversary Trilogy is presented DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mixes in English, along with standard DTS 5.1 mixes in English and French. The HD mixes are a lot of fun to hear, with a healthy amount of music and atmosphere in the surrounds. In just one example – Marty’s first encounter with the DeLorean at the Twin Pines Mall at 1:16am – the surrounds are visited by a passing freight train in the distance, and for a moment I wondered if this was in my speakers or something I’d never heard before in my neighborhood. So I rewound the moment and sure enough, the sound was in the speakers, not reality. Memorex would be pleased.



Special Features Rating: 2/5

The Blu-Ray presentation of the Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Trilogy preserves everything from the 2010 release, since the movie discs are identical. In addition, there is now a fourth disc with bonus content I’ll enumerate first.

 

Disc 4:

 

2015 Message from Doc Brown (NEW MATERIAL FOR THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY) (0:45, 1080p) – This is a quick greeting from Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), shot during the same session as the new Doc Brown Saves the World! Sitting in the DeLorean, an aged Doc Brown repeats the advice he gave Marty at the end of the third film.

 

Doc Brown Saves the World (NEW MATERIAL FOR THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY) (9:38, 1080p) – This is a new skit, starring Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown, apparently designed to explain why the various future 2015 devices we saw in the second movie have not actually come to exist in our very real 2015. Typically for the Doc, the skit involves time paradoxes, causality fluctuation and of course, the imminent destruction of the entire universe. Shot on what looks like a small stage with limited materials, the skit feels drawn out at its length, and it almost feels unfair to ask Lloyd to go through this much dialogue for the sake of a very long shaggy dog story.

 

OUTATIME: Restoring the DeLorean (NEW MATERIAL FOR THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY) (22:00, 1080p) – This featurette covers the work done in 2012 by a team of fans led by Joe Walser to restore the “A” Delorean used in the three Back to the Future movies. The video material here shows how the “beauty car” from the movies had deteriorated to extremely poor condition when spotted by Bob Gale on the Universal backlot. Gale is interviewed, and discusses how he made a case for Universal to have the car brought back to life as part of its 100th Anniversary. Walser and other fans are interviewed about how they conducted this project, while plenty of video is shown of them literally taking the car apart, cleaning it up and practically reconstructing it. The restored version of the car now has a completely rebuilt Flux Capacitor and Time Circuits that not only light up but make the expected noises when the proper buttons are pressed. As shown in the featurette, the restored car has been placed on display at Universal behind a protective plexi case, presumably to be maintained in much better condition over the next 30 years…

 

Looking Back to the Future (FEATURETTE MATERIAL ASSEMBLED IN 2008) (45:42, Standard Definition) – This is a roughly 46 minute making-of featurette, apparently included on the 2009 DVD edition of Back to the Future. It includes some then-current interviews and a lot of archive interviews with Michael J. Fox and others edited into the body of the featurette. There’s nothing particularly deep here. The featurette is broken up into many parts, none of which run longer than about 3 minutes.

 

The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 1 “Brothers” (SAMPLER OF ANIMATED SERIES) (23:24, 4x3, Standard Definition) – Here we have the first episode of the first season of the animated, children’s Saturday morning cartoon iteration of the Back to the Future series. The material here hasn’t aged very well –the animation looks fairly simple and the whole thing is introduced by Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown in a quick bluescreen gag.

 

The Animated Series – Season 2, Episode 1 “Mac the Black” (SAMPLER OF ANIMATED SERIES) (23:08, 4x3, Standard Definition) – Here’s the first episode of the second season of the animated series, and it suffers from the same problems as the prior episode being sampled on this disc.

 

(I note that fans of the animated series can actually pick up the whole kit and caboodle by purchasing the more expensive Complete Adventures Blu-ray set with the Flux Capacitor on the packaging’s cover. For those less interested, this quick sampler of two episodes will provide more than enough of that experience.)

 

2015 Commercials (NEW MATERIAL FOR THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY):

 

Jaws 19 Preview (1:28, 1080p) – Here’s an inspired gag. It’s a mock trailer for the holographic Jaws 19 lampooned in Back to the Future Part II. The trailer helpfully recounts all the various Jaws sequels, including the “just business” edition, the “purely pleasure” installment (love and kisses from a SHARK???!!!), and various others I can’t bring myself to spoil here. Whoever created this either has a warped sense of humor or has some production history with Roger Corman. Or both.

 

Hoverboard Commercial (1:06, 1080p) – Here’s another inspired gag. This one is a mock skateboarding commercial, featuring the Mattel Hoverboard introduced in Back to the Future Part II. We get to watch a young skateboard punk hawk all the fun things this hoverboard can do. But watch out for the very end of the commercial and get ready to pause your screen. There’s a “blink and you’ll miss it” warning screen that’s almost as thorough as the notorious “Happy Fun Ball” gag from SNL in the late 1980s…

 

The other three discs are identical to the 2010 Blus, and thus I will again quote my summary of their bonus materials:

 

Disc 1:

 

Feature Commentary with Bob Gale and Neal Canton (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – Writer/Producer Bob Gale and producer Neil Canton provide a scene-specific commentary, loaded with plenty of production information. Bob Gale dominates the track, and he has a lot to say about how the movie was put together.

 

Q & A Commentary with Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – This commentary is actually an audio recording of a question and answer session with Zemeckis and Gale, with the questions and discussions at hand having to do with this film. Robert Zemeckis is a quite entertaining speaker, and he goes over a lot of the same ground that Gale does on the scene-specific commentary, but it’s fun to listen to the guys one way or the other.

 

Deleted Scenes – (10:44 Total, 1080p) (REMASTERED IN 1080p FOR BLU-RAY) Eight deleted scenes from the film are presented in 1080p AVC transfers. These are all additions that do not necessarily help move the story along, hence their removal from the film. (I’m not sure what more we get from a scene of George McFly being locked in a phone booth.) There is an option to watch any or all of these scenes with commentary by Bob Gale. And there is a “Play All” function for convenience. I should note that the picture quality here, regardless of the 1080p transfer, isn’t all that great.

 

Archival Featurette: The Making of Back to the Future – (14:29, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) This is an EPK puff piece done in 1985 to promote the first film. It’s interesting today for archival purposes, in that it shows then-current interview footage with Steven Spielberg and the principals of the movie, along with film clips and on-set film. There’s nothing deep here, but the featurette itself is a kind of time capsule now.

 

Archival Featurette: Making the Trilogy: Chapter One – (15:31, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) This is a more candid featurette, made by Laurent Bouzereau, including current-to-2002 interviews with the available principals about what went on during the making of the first film. The initial casting of Eric Stoltz is discussed, and several still photos are presented to show what the film looked like with Stoltz in the lead role, before Zemeckis decided to recast him about a month into the shoot. The crazy schedule of filming with Michael J. Fox during all hours when he wasn’t on “Family Ties” is also addressed, by Fox himself and by Zemeckis and Gale.

 

Tales From The Future: In the Beginning (27:24, 1080p) (NEW FOR THIS BLU-RAY) – Here we have a brand-new featurette, presented in high definition, produced again by Laurent Bouzereau. It essentially covers the same ground as the “Making the Trilogy” featurette for this film did, only it includes current-to-2010 interviews with many of the same principals. I should note that there is an unintential effect of seeing the current interviews after viewing materials from 8 and over 20 years prior. Michael J. Fox suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, and in his new interviews, his condition has progressed quite considerably from the milder symptoms seen in the earlier materials. This can be very difficult to watch, given that he is clearly struggling here. This first section includes material on the casting of all of the actors that goes into much greater detail than we have seen before, including candid material from Christopher Lloyd and Claudia Wells about how they wound up in the film. This section also includes the three very brief bits of film footage of Eric Stoltz in the role of Marty McFly. It’s the same material you’ve already seen on the internet – there’s nothing else here to see. But from these three clips, much more than from the photos included in the earlier DVDs, you can easily see why the decision was made to switch to Fox. It’s not a matter of the performer being bad or problematic – it’s a matter of the performance feeling like it’s coming from a completely different film than the one Zemeckis intended to make.

 

Tales From The Future: Time to Go (29:54, 1080p) (NEW FOR THIS BLU-RAY) – This new featurette includes several production stories from the making of the film. There’s a great story right off the bat about the head of Universal telling Zemeckis and Gale to use the title “Spaceman from Pluto”, and how Spielberg defused the situation before it got any sillier. There’s also some interview material with poster artist Drew Struzan (culled from a separate documentary about him) to discuss how he came up with the iconic poster for the movie, and how the actors actually came to pose for him for the posters for the sequels.

 

Tales From The Future: Keeping Time (5:42, 1080p) (NEW FOR THIS BLU-RAY) – This quick featurette covers the music made for all three films. There’s some archival footage of Alan Silvestri conducting the score for the first film, and there are also discussions about the work of Huey Lewis for the first film and ZZ Top for the third film. The best moments here are a recounting of an impromptu jam on the set of the third film between ZZ Top and the local musicians and extras.

 

Michael J. Fox Q&A (480p, Full Frame) – (FROM THE 2002 DVD) This is an extracted version of some picture-in-picture interview
snippets with Michael J. Fox from 2002, in which he discusses many aspects of working on the trilogy. Like the other archival and current featurette material with him, there is not only a lot of crossover in his accounts of what went on to make the movies, but there is also an almost time-capsule quality here as we can see him at an earlier stage of the disease with which he is fighting. At this point, the symptoms are present, but nowhere near as overwhelming as we can see in the 2010 material.

 

Behind The Scenes - This section encompasses three separate areas:

 

Original Makeup Tests (2:17, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – This is a collection of the filmed age makeup tests done with principal actors, including Lea Thompson and Christopher Lloyd.

 

Outtakes (2:49, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – The film’s gag reel is presented here, including various shots of flubs and missed cues, and one prank in which Michael J. Fox’s whisky flask actually contains the real thing…

 

Nuclear Test Site Ending Storyboard Sequence (4:11, 1080p) (NEW FOR THIS BLU-RAY) – Here we have a series of storyboards for the originally scripted ending for the film, presented to the tune of several cues from the movie’s score. This presumably replaces the script material about the original version of the time machine which could be found on the 2002 DVDs.

 

Photo Galleries (NEW ARRANGEMENT OF EXISTING MATERIAL) – Five galleries of material are presented here, separated into sections of Production Art, Additional Storyboards, Behind-the-Scenes Photographs, Marketing Materials and Character Portraits. From what I can tell, all of this material comes from the galleries included on the original 2002 DVDs, but it’s been rearranged a bit here. The idea of “Additional Storyboards” stems from the U-Control feature on the Blu-ray which allows the viewer to toggle PIP storyboards for various sequences while they watch the sequences in question. From what I can see, the “additional storyboards” include a lot of the same storyboards that can be found while watching the PIP feature – it’s just that here they can be viewed on their own.

 

Music Video: “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News (6:27, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – A standard definition copy of Huey Lewis’ signature song from the film is included here in all its 80s glory.

 

Teaser Trailer (1:24, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – The film’s original teaser trailer carried over from the original standard definition DVD. It’s still fun to watch – essentially a long tease leading up to a close-up of Michael J. Fox being asked the question “How far are you going?” and giving the answer “About 30 years!”

 

Join Team Fox – (6:03) (NEW FOR THIS BLU-RAY) – This is a fundraising spot for Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s Disease Research Foundation. It replaces a much briefer one that was included on the 2002 DVD.

 

U-Control – (NEW FOR THIS BLU-RAY) The Blu-ray includes three “U-Control” features that can be accessed by going into that part of the main menu. One is a “Trivia Track” which updates the “Did You Know That?” trivia subtitle feature that was included on the original DVD. The second is a “Storyboard Comparison” feature that allows you to see the storyboards for various sequences alongside the appropriate shots in the movie. The third is a “Setups & Payoffs” feature which specifically addresses particular images, moments and ideas that are spotlit earlier in the movie and then paid off later on down the line. One example of this is the image of Doc Brown hanging from the hands of a clock, and another is the renaming of the Twin Pine Mall to the Lone Pine Mall, based on Marty’s adventures in the past. All of these features are presented in PIP format, where you can see the text or storyboards in one corner of the screen while the movie goes on around it. I’ll be honest here – when I used this functionality on my PS3, I got into some sticky problems, where I could not exit the feature or get control over what PIP material I was seeing until I stopped the disc and restarted it. When I tried the Blu-ray in my laptop, I did not have this problem – but it’s troubling nonetheless – and it’s the second time I’ve seen it. I had the same issue with the Blu-ray earlier this year for Repo Men.

 

BD-Live - The more general BD-Live screen is accessible via the menu, which makes various online materials available, including tickers, trailers and special events.

 

My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.

 

D-Box – D-Box functionality is available for those home theater enthusiasts who have the proper equipment.

 

 

Disc 2:

 

Feature Commentary with Bob Gale and Neal Canton (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – Writer/Producer Bob Gale and producer Neil Canton provide a scene-specific commentary, loaded with plenty of production information. As with the first film, Bob Gale dominates the track, beginning with a particularly startling account of how he and Robert Zemeckis got strong-armed into staying with their contracted salaries for the third chapter.

 

Q & A Commentary with Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – The Q & A with Zemeckis and Gale continues into the second film, but there’s nowhere near as much material. The commentary actually stops long before the film does.

 

Deleted Scenes – (5:41 Total, 1080p) (REMASTERED IN 1080p FOR BLU-RAY) Seven deleted scenes and extensions from the film are presented in 1080p AVC transfers. As with the first film, there’s really nothing all that necessary here. There is one surprising shot of Old Biff literally vanishing before our eyes after returning to the future, but it goes by very quickly. (This was presumably Marty’s fate in the first film if he had not succeeded…) There is an option to watch any or all of these scenes with commentary by Bob Gale. And there is a “Play All” function for convenience.

 

Archival Featurette: The Making of Back to the Future Part 2– (6:40, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) This is an EPK puff piece done in 1989 to promote the second film. It’s similar to the first EPK featurette from the first film, and it’s primarily interesting in the same way – it’s more of a time capsule than anything else.

 

Archival Featurette: Making the Trilogy: Chapter Two – (15:31, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) As with the Bouzereau material from 2002 on the first film, this interview/film clip collection has a lot more candid insights than the EPK spot that precedes it. Bob Gale directly addresses the loss of both Crispin Glover and Claudia Wells from the sequels – the former from a classic example of asking for too much, and the latter from a family illness. Gale also discusses the other possible versions of the second film, including a third act that would have been set in the 1960s rather than a replay of the original third act.

 

Tales From The Future: Time Flies (28:37, 1080p) (NEW FOR THIS BLU-RAY) – This new featurette more or less repeats the same stories as we have seen in the earlier 2002 featurette, including the discussion of the loss of Crispin Glover. The difference here is that there is discussion with Claudia Wells about what happened to her, in which she clarifies why she could not return, and in which Bob Gale discusses how they had to make the change to recast the part with Elizabeth Shue.

 

Tales From The Future: The Physics of Back to the Future (8:25, 1080p) (NEW FOR THIS BLU-RAY) – This new featurette is possibly the best part of the new Blu-ray set. It’s really an interview with physicist and professor Michio Kaku, in which the professor discusses his affection for these movies and gives a little scientific background to them. He specifies that he likes the idea of energy being harnessed to make time travel possible, but he qualifies it to say that the amount of plutonium put in the DeLorean is far too small to actually accomplish the task. He also gets into a multiple-universe theory that would account for how Marty McFly could cause his parents not to meet, and yet still return to his own time – in Kaku’s theory, Marty’s interference would generate a complete alternate universe in which he never existed. (Stop reading now if you’re getting a headache…) I personally loved this featurette, and I also have to recommend Kaku’s book Physics of the Impossible for those of you who wish to understand scientifically how to do things like travel in time or use warp drive.

 

Behind The Scenes - This section encompasses seven separate areas:

 

Outtakes (0:50, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – The film’s gag reel is presented here, including what looks like a painful bicycle accident for Christopher Lloyd, a shot of Lea Thompson inadvertently burping on camera, and a bit of Michael J. Fox flying above his hoverboard. My favorite bit here was the menacing postal service guy getting his trenchcoat stuck in a car door…

 

Production Design (2:11, 480p) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – This featurette focuses on the challenge to the film’s design team to reinvent Hill Valley in a variety of time periods.

 

Storyboarding (1:31, 480p) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – This featurette focuses on the many storyboards generated to help Zemeckis design the key sequences of the movies.

 

Designing the DeLorean (3:33, 480p) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – This featurette covers the conversion of a DeLorean to the time machine seen in the movies.

 

Designing Time Travel (2:42, 480p) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – This featurette focuses on the various concepts and designs Zemeckis and Gale reviewed of how they would show the moment of the time machine breaching the time barrier.

 

Hoverboard Test (0:58, 480p) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – This is footage of the tests done to see how a wire-hung actor would look
when filmed on top of a mounted hoverboard.

 

Evolution of Visual Effects Shots (5:43, 480p) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – Bob Gale narrates this collection of various visual effects shots from the second film, starting with the sky freeway and the flying DeLorean’s exit into Hill Valley 2015.

 

Photo Galleries (NEW ARRANGEMENT OF EXISTING MATERIAL) – As with the first film, here are five galleries of material are presented here, separated into sections of Production Art, Additional Storyboards, Behind-the-Scenes Photographs, Marketing Materials and Character Portraits. As I said earlier, this appears to me to be the same material I found in similar archives on the 2002 DVD, and the storyboards include isolated copies of the storyboards that can already be found in the U-Control functionality.

 

Theatrical Trailer (2:21, 480p, Non-Anamorphic) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – The film’s original theatrical trailer is presented in standard definition.

 

U-Control – (NEW FOR THIS BLU-RAY) As with the first movie, this Blu-ray includes three “U-Control” features that can be
accessed by going into that part of the main menu. One is a “Trivia Track” which updates the “Did You Know That?” trivia subtitle feature that was included on the original DVD. The second is a “Storyboard Comparison” feature that allows you to see the storyboards for various sequences alongside the appropriate shots in the movie. The third is a “Setups & Payoffs” feature which specifically addresses particular images, moments and ideas that are spotlit earlier in the movie and then paid off later on down the line. All of these features are presented in PIP format, where you can see the text or storyboards in one corner of the screen while the movie goes on around it. Like I said before, I had a lot of stickiness with this function, and it didn’t make me really want to repeatedly use it.

 

BD-Live - The more general BD-Live screen is accessible via the menu, which makes various online materials available, including tickers, trailers and special events.

 

My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.

 

D-Box – D-Box functionality is available for those home theater enthusiasts who have the proper equipment.

 

 

Disc 3:

 

Feature Commentary with Bob Gale and Neal Canton (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – Writer/Producer Bob Gale and producer Neil Canton provide a scene-specific commentary, loaded with plenty of production information. Bob Gale dominates the track, as he did for the first two films.

 

Q & A Commentary with Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – Here we have the rest of the Q & A with Zemeckis and Gale, and the final series of questions, as they apply to the final film. There aren’t that many questions, and the commentary ends even earlier than the brief one heard over the second film.

 

Deleted Scene – (1:14, 1080p) (REMASTERED IN 1080p FOR BLU-RAY) A single deleted scene from the film is presented here – the killing of the Marshall by Biff’s 1885 ancestor. It’s a strange scene, in that it’s the one irrevocable murder presented in the entire trilogy, and yet it ends with a kind of punchline. There is an option to watch this scene with commentary by Bob Gale.

 

Archival Featurette: The Making of Back to the Future Part 3 – (7:32, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) This is an EPK puff piece done in 1990 to promote the film.

 

Archival Featurette: Making the Trilogy: Chapter Three – (16:20, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) Laurent
Bouzereau’s 2002 documentary concludes with this candid accounting of how the third film was made on location in Northern California and Monument Valley.

 

Archival Featurette: The Secrets of the Back to the Future Trilogy (20:41, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – A promotional TV special for the third film starring Kirk Cameron is included here for posterity.

 

Tales From The Future: Third Time’s The Charm (17:07, 1080p) (NEW FOR THIS BLU-RAY) – The third film is again chronicled in high definition, with wistful accounts by Zemeckis and Fox about the peacefulness of filming a western on location. There’s a great interview with Mary Steenburgen about her participation in the film, and her surprise to hear that the filmmakers were quite unsure if she would actually do the movie. Marc McClure offers a moving nod to deceased cast member Wendy Jo Sperber as part of the discussion here.

 

Tales From The Future: The Test of Time (17:00, 1080p) (NEW FOR THIS BLU-RAY) – Laurent Bouzereau wraps up his new high definition featurette collection with this accounting of various related projects that have happened since they finished the third film. The Universal Studios Tour ride is discussed, as is the animated children’s series that ran in the 1990s. Robert Zemeckis clarifies here that he never intended to make any more than 3 films, and that he has no intention of making any other films about this story. (To be fair, he was generous in even doing three films when the original story was only for a single film, and he had to really work to stretch the material as far as he did.)

 

Behind The Scenes - This section encompasses three separate areas:

 

Outtakes (1:36, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – A very quick gag reel is included here, with one shot of the guys
incorporating Roger Rabbit into an 1885 homestead scene, and another shot where the saloon regulars completely muff their dialogue.

 

Designing the Town of Hill Valley (1:08, 480p) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – This featurette covers the construction of the 1885 town version of familiar Hill Valley seen in the third film.

 

Designing the Campaign (1:18, 480p) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – This featurette focuses on the poster designs for the films, including much of the same material discussed at greater length in the Tales From the Future: Time to Go featurette on the first disc.

 

Photo Galleries (NEW ARRANGEMENT OF EXISTING MATERIAL) – As with the first two films, here are five galleries of material are presented here, separated into sections of Production Art, Additional Storyboards, Behind-the-Scenes Photographs, Marketing Materials and Character Portraits. As I said earlier, this appears to me to be the same material I found in similar archives on the 2002 DVD, and the storyboards include isolated copies of the storyboards that can already be found in the U-Control functionality.

 

Music Video: “Double Back” by ZZ Top (4:08, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – A standard definition copy of ZZ Top’s song from the third film is included here.

 

Theatrical Trailer (2:19, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – The film’s original theatrical trailer is carried over from the earlier DVD.

 

Faqs About the Trilogy (FROM THE 2002 DVD) – This is a text section that addresses various questions that have been raised about the movies ranging from what the real timeline of the third film was to where a reader could get those self-lacing 2015 shoes and a hoverboard. This is carried over lock, stock and barrel from the 2002 DVD set.

 

Back to the Future: The Ride – (31:06 Total, of which 5 minutes is the actual ride, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE INDIVIDUAL DVD RELEASES FOLLOWING THE 2002 SET) – Here we have the complete assembly of footage used for the Universal Studios
Tour simulator ride based on the film. About 26 minutes of it is the material that audience members would see on monitors during the final half hour of their wait on line. The last 5 minutes of this is the actual simulator ride footage, which can be augmented if you have D-Box equipment. Looking at the footage without the help of D-Box or even the basics of a simulator makes it pretty obvious what’s going on – the audience is being whipped around and through various environments while they appear to chase Biff, who has stolen a time machine and is travelling to the ends of known time on a joyride.

 

U-Control – (NEW FOR THIS BLU-RAY) As with the first two films, this Blu-ray includes three “U-Control” features that can be accessed by going into that part of the main menu. One is a “Trivia Track” which updates the “Did You Know That?” trivia subtitle feature that was included on the original DVD. The second is a “Storyboard Comparison” feature that allows you to see the storyboards for various sequences alongside the appropriate shots in the movie. The third is a “Setups & Payoffs” feature which specifically addresses particular images, moments and ideas that are spotlit earlier in the movie and then paid off later on down the line. All of these features are presented in PIP format, where you can see the text or storyboards in one corner of the screen while the movie goes on around it. I’ll repeat here that I found this feature to have a lot of stickiness.

 

BD-Live - The more general BD-Live screen is accessible via the menu, which makes various online materials available, including tickers, trailers and special events.

 

My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.

 

D-Box – D-Box functionality is available for those home theater enthusiasts who have the proper equipment. This will be particularly helpful for viewing “The Ride”.

 

 

Digital Copy – Instructions and download codes are included on an insert in the packaging for obtaining digital copies of all three movies in the series.

 

The film and special features are subtitled in English, French and Spanish. The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu.

 

I should make one more note here, this time about the packaging. The 2010 Blu-rays were sadly housed in a diabolical package that made it difficult, if not impossible to remove the discs without destroying the packaging or the discs. For the 2015 release, this idea has been rethought. Now we have a book sleeve packaging similar to that used for the 2012 Hitchcock and Monsters sets. It’s a lot easier to handle and a lot more handsome to look at.



Overall Rating: 3/5

Back to the Future: 30th Anniversary Trilogy re-presents the same three Blu-rays we saw of these movies in 2010. The only thing new here is the fourth disc, which is mostly loaded with sample episodes of the animated series and a 2009 featurette that sheds little light on the movies that can’t be found in the more comprehensive featurettes already on the 3 Blus from 2010. Fans of the series most likely already have the 2010 set, so it simply becomes a question of whether the fourth disc here is really worth a complete double-dip on the Blu-rays and either a triple or quadruple dip on getting these movies on home video. I’m not sure that it is. Fans of the animated series will likely want to pick up the more comprehensive Complete Adventures set to get the whole collection of those episodes. Frankly, the primary reason to pick this up would be if you had not purchased the 2010 discs and were just now jumping onboard.


Reviewed By: Kevin EK


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MielR

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I would like to get the blu-ray of the first film as I've only owned it on VHS and LD. But, even on eBay I'm having a hard time finding anyone selling JUST the first film. I hope they sell the films separately one day. The sequels were OK, but I don't like them enough to watch them repeatedly.

My nephew and I were reminiscing the other day about when we first saw BTTF in '85. The building where we saw the film was the Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, CT. They started showing films there in 1930. They still show 2nd-run films there for a discounted price (as they did in '85). It's a beautiful theater with balcony-seating which is usually where we sat. It's not often that I remember exactly WHERE I saw a film---but as you can see from the photo, it would have been hard to forget where we saw BTTF (notice the clocktower---lol!)
townhall.jpg
 
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The Obsolete Man

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Great posts!
I'm overdue to watch the trilogy!
Same here.

I wish the "New" Universal would work their magic on the trilogy the way they have, say, the old Horror films. The first film could definitely use a new transfer by the new regime.

I'd be up for one more purchase if they did it up right.
 
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Charles Smith

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I love that Edmond Town Hall theater! They're still showing films, still at $2 or $3 per, and I've been terrible about checking on listings. In fact, I haven't been in there since they went digital a few years ago, which is pretty sad considering it's a 20-minute drive from my house.

It also seems like someone said the balcony is closed off. That would be sad, if true. Well, let this be a reminder for me to get over there.
 
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MielR

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It also seems like someone said the balcony is closed off. That would be sad, if true. Well, let this be a reminder for me to get over there.
I hope the balcony isn't closed off...I hear they recently replaced all the seats that were from the 1960's. I went to High School in Newtown in the 1980's and my family and I saw a lot of films there. I remember seeing "Young Sherlock Holmes" with my mom and "Pretty In Pink" with my sister. :)
 
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The Obsolete Man

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I've had a Back To The Future Part 2 themed Pepsi Perfect sitting on my shelf since the promotion in 2015. I should really watch those movies and drink that.
That thing is long dead by now and will taste horrible.

Best to leave it as a collectible. Maybe get yourself a Pepsi Free instead.

...but you're gonna have to pay for it.
 

Josh Steinberg

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With all those artificial chemicals and flavors, I figure that thing has to have a shelf life of at least a couple years. But I guess there's only one way to find out...
 
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RMajidi

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I would like to get the blu-ray of the first film as I've only owned it on VHS and LD. But, even on eBay I'm having a hard time finding anyone selling JUST the first film. I hope they sell the films separately one day. The sequels were OK, but I don't like them enough to watch them repeatedly.

My nephew and I were reminiscing the other day about when we first saw BTTF in '85. The building where we saw the film was the Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, CT. They started showing films there in 1930. They still show 2nd-run films there for a discounted price (as they did in '85). It's a beautiful theater with balcony-seating which is usually where we sat. It's not often that I remember exactly WHERE I saw a film---but as you can see from the photo, it would have been hard to forget where we saw BTTF (notice the clocktower---lol!) View attachment 38577

My first viewing of BTTF in early 1986 was a cherished memory too, as my kid brother had already seen it and insisted I should take him for a repeat viewing. We left the theatre walking on air, and then drove to the hills surrounding Perth to get away from the ambient city lights for a better view (with binoculars) of Halley's Comet, which was doing its lap of honour at the time. Magic night, which we both remember fondly.

I have the full collection on Blu-ray and not the singles; but each edition of the Trilogy is available separately on Blu here in Oz. Universal-Sony are the distributors (they collaborate in these parts you see).

If you don't mind importing, then you can buy the first instalment at the following online store, which is the closest thing we have to Amazon here:

https://www.jbhifi.com.au/movies-tv...-on-sale/adventure/back-to-the-future/289619/

The exchange rates are heavily in your favour and might help offset the shipping charges.
 
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The Obsolete Man

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And make no mistake, sodas die after that date. Even before they start getting flat and odd tasting.

I mean, they're probably not going to kill you or anything, but that expiration date is a good sign of whether it's going to taste like crap or not.

That's why I say, leave that Pepsi as a collector's item, and if you want a tab, you're gonna have to order something.
 
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TravisR

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That's why I say, leave that Pepsi as a collector's item...
Yeah, they were going for hundreds of dollars when Pepsi didn't make anywhere near enough to meet demand. I'm sure the prices have come back to down to earth but you're bound to make a very nice profit on eBay if you only paid the original price for it.
 
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MielR

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I'm surprised they mentioned "Tab" in the film since it's a Coke product (and still available depending on where you live). Pepsi Free hasn't been available for ages (at least in the U.S.).
 
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The Obsolete Man

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I'm surprised they mentioned "Tab" in the film since it's a Coke product (and still available depending on where you live). Pepsi Free hasn't been available for ages (at least in the U.S.).
Different films.

The Tab joke was in the first one. Pepsi didn't have a major physical presence (probably a paid one) until the second film, IIRC.

And Pepsi Free has always been available. They just changed the name to Caffeine-Free Pepsi in the late 80s.
 
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MielR

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Different films.

The Tab joke was in the first one. Pepsi didn't have a major physical presence (probably a paid one) until the second film, IIRC.
There's definitely some Pepsi Co. product placement in the first film. There's at least one scene where there's a can of Pepsi Free on the shelf behind Marty's bed.
 
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MielR

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When I was watching BTTF on TBS the other day (they have it available On Demand as well), I noticed some rather odd editing: the scene where Doc gets shot by the terrorists is nearly completely cut, as is a good portion of the part where they're chasing Marty through the parking lot. There's also a strange fade-to-black (which is not in the original film) right before the scene where Doc is taking the Plutonium capsules out of the case.
 

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