Back To The Future trilogy review (Blu-ray)

If Back To The Future is not the greatest film trilogy ever made, it's certainly the most fun. And the first film at least is, without a doubt, the greatest time travel comedy in the history of film. Hell, it's one of the best films of all time, period. Even in an era of sweating assets, of maximising every last dollar out of a film's life, who could possibly deny the remastering, the cinematic re-release and Blu-ray release of such a classic series of films? Do you know anyone who doesn't like Back To The Future? We certainly don't. And how many other films can you say that about?

The first film, it has to be said, is easily the best of the three (although some of us have a soft spot for the second). From the opening tracking shot of the clocks and homemade inventions of Doc Brown to his own triumphant last lines ("Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads"), Back To The Future is as close to entertainment perfection as you're ever likely to see. While superficially a science fiction story, it's also a family drama, a romance, a comedy and a period piece all rolled into one.

After a time travel experiment goes wrong, Marty McFly (Fox) ends up in 1955. Being hit by a car sets off a chain of events which put his very existence in jeopardy. He seeks out a much younger version of his friend the eccentric but brilliant Doc Brown (Lloyd), whose genius got him to the '50s in the first place. But the only way he can get "back to the future" is by ensuring that his mum and dad get together, something which is unlikely to happen since she thinks he's a dreamboat...

While Back To The Future was not the first and almost certainly won't be the last time travel story, it is perhaps the simplest and most satisfying – and what cooler way to travel than in a DeLorean (and to think the machine of choice was at one point a refrigerator!)? Thanks to a sparkling script from Zemeckis and Gale, it's consistently funny throughout, helped enormously by outstanding performances from all the principal actors. Lloyd is on especially good form and displays a dazzling array of facial expressions while let's face it, no one falls over quite as well as the always amiable Fox. From the likeable characters (even the bad guys are kind of fun), great special effects (except for that bit with Marty's hand) to the philosphical musings on life itself, like all true classics Back To The Future bears repeated viewings and is still as fresh as a daisy and an absolute joy to behold from start to finish.

The repeatablility factor continues in Part II, which takes a darker turn when Marty accidentally makes a mess of his own future while in 2015 and so must return (again) to 1955 to, once again, put things to rights and preserve his own existence. (As an aside, if Jaws 19 is due out in 2015, Spielberg and his mates had better get cracking. And don't start us on the flying cars. Or hoverboards. But they were only five years out with the 80s revival.) Although this film doesn't have the feelgood factor of the original, it's generally overlooked that this is a far more clever story, not only dealing with the fact that Crispin Glover didn't want to appear and thus losing a major character, but also incorporating the already complex shenanigans of the first film into the second.

In Part III, Marty has to head back to the wild west of 1885 to rescue the Doc after a lightning strike accidentally propels the DeLorean there. This is perhaps the lightest of the three films and while slightly sentimental still has plenty of laughs and refers back to the previous films in a neatly familiar way. Some critics aren't big fans of the second and third parts (which were actually shot back to back), but we have to admit to loving them all. As we said at the start, Back to the Future is about as perfect as any film trilogy could be, and if you don't already own it, then this 25th anniversary Blu-ray release is the perfect way to rectify that.

EXTRAS ★★★★★ The Back To The Future Trilogy Blu-ray is available in two editions. First, there's the standard three-disc Blu-ray. And then, if you want lots of extra bells and whistles, there's the Blu-ray Collector's Tin (pictured below), which also includes a DeLorean blueprint, Outtatime number plate, Gray's Sports Almanac, Save The Clocktower poster, Lenticular photo of Marty's family, two double-sided exclusive posters, four newspaper pages, five DeLorean Artcards, six Hoverboard artcards, and a photo of Doc and  Marty with the original clock in 1885. Both editions have all of the following bonus material ...Back to The Future: Feature audio commentary with producer/co-writer Bob Gale and producer Neil Canton (which the guys recommend listening to after all the other commentaries and watching the various documentaries); eight deleted and extended scenes, with an optional commentary from Gale; the documentary Tales From the Future: In The Beginning; the documentary Tales From the Future: Time to Go; the documentary Tales From the Future: Keeping Time; three Archival Featurettes (The Making Of Back to the Future, making the Trilogy Chapter One, and Back to The Future Night); a series of new interviews with Michael J Fox; three behind-the-scenes featurettes (Original Makeup Tests, Outtakes, and Nuclear test Site Sequences) with an optional commentary from Gale; five photo galleries (Production Art, Additional Storyboards, Behind-the-Scenes Photography, Marketing Materials, and Character Portraits); a music video for Huey Lewis & The News's The Power of Love; the theatrical teaser trailer; a Q&A commentary with Gale and director/co-writer Zemeckis (taken from a Q&A session at the University of Southern California).Back to The Future Part II: Feature audio commentary with producer/co-writer Bob Gale and producer Neil Canton; another Q&A commentary with Gale and director/co-writer Zemeckis (taken from a Q&A session at the University of Southern California, that was recorded for the trilogy's DVD release); Seven deleted scenes, with optional commentary from Gale; the featurette Tales From the Future: Time Flies; the featurette The Physics of BTTF; more archival featurettes (The Making of BTTF Part II, and Making the Trilogy: Chapter Two); a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes (outtakes, Production Design, Storyboarding, Designing the DeLorean, Designing Time Travel, Hoverboard Test, Evolution of Visual Effects Shots, and five photo galleries); the theatrical trailer.Back to The Future Part III: Feature audio commentary with producer/co-writer Bob Gale and producer Neil Canton; another Q&A commentary with Gale and director/co-writer Zemeckis (taken from a Q&A session at the University of Southern California, that was recorded for the trilogy's DVD release); one deleted scene (the Tannen Gang kills Marshal Strickland) with an optional commentary from Gale; the featurette Tales From the Future: Third Time's The Charm; the featurette Tales From the Future: The Test of Time; the archival featurettes The Making of BTTF Part III, Macking The Trilogy: Chapter Three, and The Secrets of the BTTF Trilogy; four behind-the-scenes featurettes (Outtakes, Designing the Town of Hill Valley, Designing the Campaign, and five photo galleries); a music video for ZZ Top's Doubleback; FAQs About the Trilogy; the theatrical trailer; and two featurettes at the Back to The Future ride at the Universal Studios theme park in Florida. 

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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