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DVD Watch

Reviewed by Eli Kooris, June 20, 2003, Screens

Back to the Future: The Complete Trilogy

Universal Home Entertainment, $56.98 Considering trilogy storytelling has once again become Hollywood's new cash cow, it was only a matter of time before all three of Robert Zemeckis' Back to the Future films were released as a box set. The set opens with the action/adventure phenomenon that forever changed the way we looked at time travel, that kid from Family Ties, and unreliable DeLorean cars. To catch up you cave dwellers, Back to the Future follows young Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox), an average mid-Eighties American suburban kid, and eccentric scientist "Doc" Brown (Christopher Lloyd), whom Marty assists with scientific experiments. It seems Doc has created a time machine: a DeLorean with a flux capacitor that must accelerate to 88 mph before it can dissipate into the strata of time ... or something like that. Everything goes awry on the first time-machine test run when angry Libyan terrorists gun down Doc for scamming them out of plutonium (an incident that, these days, would raise our National Warning Level a whole color); Marty escapes by accidentally driving the DeLorean back to 1955. Now stuck 30 years in the past, he has the ability to remake his future -- by changing the nature of his parent's marriage, his father's social status, and the origins of "Johnny B Goode." Back to the Future has the perfect mixture of humor, action, sentiment, drama, and a fair share of philosophy, too. While Back to the Future II, released four years later, has its perks -- a cute, clueless Elisabeth Shue, a glimpse of the year 2015, and a Hoverboard chase scene -- it pales in comparison to the original. And then there's Old West-set Back to the Future III (released the following year), a mediocre outing at best that regurgitates elements from both predecessors and boasts a lot of overacting by Mary Steenburgen. To keep the final DVD from doubling as a coaster, the studio has added more than 10 hours of special features to this box set, ranging from fascinating behind-the-scenes documentaries to actual on-location Hoverboard tests.

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