Blu-Ray Review: ‘Back to the Future Trilogy’

Monday, October 25 by

I can’t believe it’s been over 25 years since the first Back to the Future came out. To commemorate the anniversary, Universal is releasing the entire trilogy on Blu-ray, and I got to take the discs for an early run.

I’m not going to write a synopsis of the films because, well, it’s Back to the Future. I can’t imagine you being on Screen Junkies and not having seen these movies a million times. So you know my stance going into the Blu-ray review, I will say that I dearly love Back to the Future, but find the sequels a bit lacking. Still really fun movies, but they aren’t on the same level as the original.

More after the jump…

All three movies look and sound great considering their age. They definitely shine in Blu-ray glory. There were some SNAFUs with the original DVDs and some messed-up aspect ratios, and those have all bee taken care of.

Each movie has THREE making-of featurettes. One from around the time the movie came out, one from the DVD release, and one new one made for the Blu-rays (the new making-of is sometimes broken into sections for the different movies). The new specials are definitely worth a watch. On the Back to the Future featurette you can see some footage of Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly, which is interesting, but I would love to see an entire scene with him, just out of curiousity. It’s a shame they only have a montage. The older making-of featurette from the DVD release is largely redundant in light of the new one, and the oldest making-of is only of value for kitsch factor (I love old-school Spielberg and his rock-star sunglasses).

Each movie has two audio commentary tracks, though nothing unique to the this release. One is just a Q&A session (with Robert Zemeckis and his writing and producing partner Bob Gale) recorded at USC after screening each film and has nothing to do with what’s going on on-screen, which is a let-down. The other track is specific to the films but is sorely missing Robert Zemeckis (we get Bob Gale, who is definitely a BTTF expert, and producer Neil Canton). Both tracks are interesting, but between the making-of featurettes and all the other extras, you’ll be hearing the same stories over and over and over again.

"U Control" has "Setups and Payoffs," which points out setups and then, yes, you guessed it, payoffs. "Storyboard Comparison," which is self-explanatory. And third, "Trivia Track," which has facts and info about each movie.

There are deleted scenes (with optional Bob Gale commentary) and outtakes for all the movies, but none of them are particularly interesting.

In addition to all this, each movie has extras specific to that film. Here’s a rundown of some of that goodness:

Back to the Future has a semi-animated storyboard sequence of the original ending, which is pretty interesting and well-presented. The storyboard artists for these movies were awesome.

Back to the Future Part II has a bit on the science behind the movies. Dr Michio Kaku is fun to listen to as he is CLEARLY a super geek for Back to the Future. He’s pretty easy on the science but also has to admit that some of the stuff is pure Hollywood (no shit).

The disc for Part II also has NBC’s "Back to the Future Night" hosted by Leslie Nielsen. The was their special TV-airing of the first movie to promote the release of the second. Watch the first couple minutes to have a good laugh at Leslie Neilsen playing it straight and for a hint of nostalgia.

Back to the Future Part III has the awful "The Secrets of the Back to the Future Trilogy" TV Special hosted by Kirk Cameron. It’s so cheesy and bad. Again, watch a few minutes to have a good laugh and then skip.

After trying to remember why you ever thought Kirk Cameron was cool, you can check out Back to the Future: The Ride (a Star Tours rip-off they installed at the Universal Studios parks), which they’ve included in its entirety, including the video they play while you wait in line, which has horrible production values and clearly wasn’t overseen by anyone that actually cared about the movies. The ride itself is kind of interesting but ultimately not that cool (unless you pay someone to sit behind you and tilt and rock your chair while you watch).

There are a smattering of other features, all pretty short, most not worth watching, although it is really cool that Universal tried to collect as much as they could about these movies and include it. I’m hoping they do the same for Jurassic Park.

So in closing, is this set worth it? The quality of the movies (which you probably haven’t seen in a while), mixed with the obscene amount of extras and the new featurettes make this a no-brainer, especially at the sub-$50 price you can score it at. Great Christmas gift for the movie-geeks on your list.   

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