Showing a flagrant disregard for bottomless greed, the owners of the “Back to the Future” trilogy are choosing not to remake/reboot/sequelize/reboot-sequelize the landmark series, as one usually does with 30-plus-year-old franchises. Instead, on October 21, they’ll be releasing the whole shebang on Blu-ray and, in a nice stroke, in theaters, allowing moviegoers to shake like it’s 1985, 1989 or 1990 all over again.
Oh, and by the way, October 21, 2015 is indeed the real, actual date Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly and Christopher Lloyd’s “Doc” Brown traveled to in “Back to the Future II,” not, as the Internet would have you believe, every other date that’s already happened since Facebook was invented. Moreover, this is also the original film’s 30th anniversary, meaning the gap between now and then is as large as it was from 1985 to 1955, the year to which Marty first traveled. Because you’re old.
Of course, one good reason the films aren’t being remade is because original director Robert Zemeckis won’t allow it — a move that should atone for “Forrest Gump,” “The Polar Express” and the third acts of “Contact,” “What Lies Beneath” and “Cast Away” combined.
It’s worth noting, however, that a) only the first one, as the consensus has it, is a true masterpiece, and b) regardless of a), this is one nutty franchise. The second may have literally repeated the first, but only after a dizzying, time-hopping first two acts that playfully dismantled the pleasures of the first, even depositing randy mom (Lea Thompson) in the clutches of now wealthy, dictatorial bully Biff (Thomas F. Wilson). The third is a straight-up love letter to classic Westerns, and maybe the first time a generation had seen references to “High Noon,” “Fistful of Dollars” and countless more. Indeed, it may still be many Americans’ only real connection to one of America’s greatest homebred movie genres.
The first “Back to the Future” is untouchable, or untouchable-ish. It’s still one of the most daring pure entertainments Hollywood has ever released, turning as it does on the fear of your mom wanting to bang you (such that that often exists). It’s also a product of its time, its time being one when Hollywood cinema grew more restless and always needed wow moments and suspense. Even the climax, already revolving around whether the harebrained scheme to lightning bolt Marty back to the future can’t let a moment go by without tiny crises that are resolved quickly and sometimes arbitrarily. Did Marty’s car really have to stick when he tried to turn it on? Maybe if it was solved by something more than him hitting his head on the wheel.
But them’s nitpicking. (And the head-banging is an amusing joke-ette.) Meet you in the Delorean headed for late October (before returning back here, because a pretty calm summer oughtn’t go to waste and life is short)!