Back to the Future Part II
|Back to the Future Part II|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Zemeckis|
|Produced by||Neil Canton
|Screenplay by||Bob Gale|
|Story by||Robert Zemeckis
|Starring||Michael J. Fox
Thomas F. Wilson
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Editing by||Harry Keramidas
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||108 minutes|
Back to the Future Part II is a 1989 American science fiction comedy film and the second installment of the Back to the Future trilogy. As with all three films, it was directed by Robert Zemeckis, scripted by Bob Gale, and stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Thomas F. Wilson and Lea Thompson. The plot of Part II picks up where the original film left off. After repairing the damage to history done by his previous time travel adventures, Marty McFly (Fox) and his friend Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown (Lloyd) travel to 2015 to prevent McFly's future son from ending up in jail. However, their presence there allows Biff Tannen (Wilson) to steal Doc's DeLorean time machine and travel to 1955, where he alters history by making his younger self wealthy.
Part II was produced on a $40 million budget and was filmed back-to-back with its sequel, Back to the Future Part III. Filming began in February 1989 after two years was spent building the sets and writing the script. The film was one of the most ground-breaking projects for effects studio Industrial Light & Magic; in addition to digital compositing, ILM used the VistaGlide motion control camera system, which allowed scenes to be filmed in which an actor played multiple characters on-screen. Two actors from the first film, Crispin Glover and Claudia Wells, did not return for the final two films; Glover's character, George McFly, was not only minimized in the plot but was also obscured otherwise and was recreated with another actor. Part II was released by Universal Pictures on November 22, 1989. The film received generally favorable reviews, although not as strong as the first installment. A commercial success, Part II grossed $331,950,002 worldwide, making it the third-highest-grossing film of the year.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Development
- 4 Production
- 5 Depiction of the future
- 6 Release and reception
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
On October 26, 1985, Dr. Emmett Brown arrives in his DeLorean time machine and persuades Marty McFly and his girlfriend, Jennifer Parker to come with to the future to prevent their future children from being imprisoned. As they depart, Biff Tannen witnesses their departure. They arrive on October 21, 2015, where Doc electronically hypnotizes Jennifer and leaves her incapacitated in an alley. Meanwhile, Doc has Marty pose as Marty McFly, Jr., Marty's future son, to refuse an offer to participate in a robbery with Biff's grandson, Griff.
Marty successfully switches places with his son and refuses Griff's offer. However, Griff goads Marty into a fight, during which Griff and his gang crash into the local courthouse and are arrested, saving Marty's future children. Before regrouping with Doc, Marty purchases Grays Sports Almanac, a book detailing the results of major sporting events from 1950 to 2000. Doc discovers the purchase and warns him about attempting to profit from time travel, but before Doc can adequately dispose of the almanac, they are forced to follow police who have found Jennifer incapacitated and are taking her to her 2015 home. 2015 Biff, overhearing the conversation and recalling the DeLorean from 1985, follows in a taxi with the discarded book.
Jennifer wakes up in her 2015 home and hides from the McFly family. She overhears that her future self's life with Marty is not what they expected due to a car accident involving Marty. She witnesses the 2015 Marty being goaded into a shady business deal by his co-worker Needles, causing their supervisor to dismiss Marty, as announced by numerous faxes (one of which Jennifer keeps). While escaping the house, Jennifer encounters her 2015 self and they both faint. While Marty and Doc attend to 1985 Jennifer, Biff uses the DeLorean to travel to 1955, where he gives his teenage self the almanac, before returning to 2015. Marty, Doc, and an unconscious Jennifer return to 1985, unaware of Biff's actions.
Marty and Doc soon discover that the 1985 to which they returned has changed dramatically: Biff has become wealthy and corrupt, and has changed Hill Valley into a chaotic dystopia; Marty's father, George, was killed in 1973, and Biff has forced his mother, Lorraine, to marry him instead; Doc has been committed to an insane asylum, while Marty, Dave and Linda are away at boarding schools. Doc finds evidence of the sports almanac and Biff's trip to 1955 in the DeLorean and asks Marty to find out when the 1955 Biff received the almanac so they can correct the timeline. Marty confronts Biff, who explains that he received the book on November 12, 1955 from an old man who instructed him to bet on every winner in the almanac. He was also told to eliminate anyone who questioned him about the almanac, and as a result, Biff attempts to kill Marty. During their encounter on his hotel roof, Biff reveals that he shot George. However, Doc arrives and incapacitates Biff, allowing him and Marty to flee to 1955.
Marty secretly follows the 1955 Biff and witnesses him receive the almanac from his older self, but Marty is initially unable to retrieve the book. Marty follows Biff to the high school's Enchantment Under the Sea Dance, being careful to avoid interrupting the events from his previous visit to the dance. Eventually, Biff leaves the dance with the almanac as Doc and Marty pursue. After a struggle, Marty takes the almanac from Biff, who crashes his car into a manure truck as Doc and Marty fly away in the DeLorean.
With Doc hovering above in the DeLorean as a storm approaches, Marty burns the almanac on the ground and undoes the damage to history that Biff has done. However, the time machine is struck by lightning and disappears. A courier from Western Union arrives minutes later and hands Marty a 70-year-old letter. It is from Doc, who was sent back in time to 1885 after the lightning strike and is now trapped. Marty races back into town and finds the 1955 Doc, who seconds earlier just helped the original Marty from the first film return to 1985. Doc is shocked by his friend's sudden reappearance and faints.
Director Robert Zemeckis states that initially Back to the Future was not planned to have a sequel, but its huge box office success led to a second installment's conception. The director later agreed to do a sequel, but only if Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd came back as well. Once they did so, Zemeckis got with screenwriting partner Bob Gale to create a story for the sequel. Zemeckis and Gale would later regret that they ended the first film with Marty's girlfriend Jennifer along with Marty and Doc Brown in the car, as they had to put a story that fit her in instead of a whole new adventure.
Gale wrote most of the first draft by himself, as Zemeckis was busy making Who Framed Roger Rabbit. At first, Part II was to take place in 1967, but Zemeckis later stated that the time paradoxes of the film gave a good opportunity to go back to 1955 and see the first film's events from a different light. While most of the original cast agreed to return, a major stumbling block arose when negotiating Crispin Glover's fee for reprising the role of George McFly. When it became clear that he would not be returning, the role was rewritten so that George is dead when the action takes place in the alternative version of 1985.
The greatest challenge was the creation of the futuristic vision of Marty's home town in 2015. Production designer Rick Carter wanted to create a very detailed image with a different tone than the film Blade Runner, saying he wanted to get past the smoke and chrome. Rick Carter and his most talented men spent months plotting, planning and preparing Hill Valley's transformation into a city of the future.
When writing the script for Part II, writer and producer Bob Gale wanted to push the first film's ideas further for humorous effect. Zemeckis admits he was somewhat concerned about portraying the future because of the risk of making wildly inaccurate predictions. Gale added that they tried to make the future a nice place, "where what's wrong is due to who lives in the future as opposed to the technology" in contrast to the pessimistic, Orwellian future seen in most science fiction. To keep production costs low and take advantage of an extended break Michael J. Fox had from his show Family Ties, the film was shot back-to-back with sequel Back to the Future Part III.
It took two years to finish the set building and the writing on the script before shooting could finally take place. During the shooting, the appearance of the "aged" characters was a well-guarded secret. Their look was created using state of the art make-up techniques. Michael J. Fox describes the process as very time consuming, "it took over four hours although it could be worse". Principal photography began on February 20, 1989. For a three-week period nearing the conclusion of Part II, the crew split and while most remained shooting Part III, a few, including writer-producer Gale, focused on finishing its predecessor. Zemeckis himself slept only a few hours per day supervising both films, having to fly between Burbank, where Part II was being finished, and other locations in California for Part III.
The film was also considered one of the most ground-breaking projects for Industrial Light & Magic. It was one of the effects house's first forays into digital compositing, as well as the VistaGlide motion control camera system, which enabled them to shoot one of the film's most complex sequences, in which Michael J. Fox played three separate characters, all of whom interacted with each other. Although such scenes were not new, the VistaGlide allowed, for the first time, a completely dynamic scene in which camera movement could finally be incorporated. The technique was also used in scenes where Thomas F. Wilson's character (Biff Tannen) had to interact with a younger version of himself.
As the film neared release, sufficient footage of Back to the Future Part III had been shot to allow a trailer to be assembled. It was therefore added at the conclusion of Part II, before the end credits, as a reassurance to moviegoers that there was more to come.
Replacement of Crispin Glover
Crispin Glover was asked to reprise the role of George McFly. Glover indicated interest, but could not come to an agreement with the producers regarding his salary. Glover later stated in a 1992 interview on The Howard Stern Show that the producers' highest offer was $125,000, which was less than half of what the other returning cast members were offered. Gale has since asserted that Glover's demands were excessive for an actor of his professional stature at that point in time. Even later, in an interview on The Opie and Anthony Show in 2013, he stated that the primary reason was a philosophical (and ethical) disagreement on the overall moral that the film was conveying. For the George McFly character to appear, Zemeckis used some previously filmed footage of Glover from the first film and inter-spliced Jeffrey Weissman, who wore prosthetics including a false chin, nose, and cheekbones and used various obfuscating methods, such as background, sunglasses, rear shot, and even upside-down, to resemble Glover. Dissatisfied with these plans, Glover filed a lawsuit against the producers, including Steven Spielberg, on the grounds that they neither owned his likeness nor had permission to use it. Due to Glover's lawsuit, there are now clauses in the Screen Actors Guild collective bargaining agreements which state that producers and actors are not allowed to use such methods to reproduce the likeness of other actors.
Replacement of Claudia Wells
Claudia Wells, who had played Marty McFly's girlfriend Jennifer Parker in Back to the Future was to reprise her role, but turned it down due to her mother's ill health. The producers cast Elisabeth Shue instead, which required re-shooting the closing scenes of Back to the Future for the beginning of Back to the Future Part II. The re-shot sequence is a nearly shot-for-shot match with the original with only minor differences such as the dialogue scene where Doc Brown noticeably hesitates before reassuring Marty that his future self is fine – something he did not do in the first film.
It was nearly 10 years before Claudia Wells returned to Hollywood, with a starring role in the 1996 independent film Still Waters Burn. She is one of the few cast members not to make an appearance within the bonus material on the Back to the Future Trilogy DVD set released in 2002. However, Wells is interviewed for the Tales from the Future documentaries in the trilogy's 25th anniversary issue on Blu-ray Disc in 2010. In 2011, Wells finally had the opportunity to reprise her role from Back to the Future, 26 years after her last appearance in the series. She provided the voice of Jennifer Parker for Back to the Future: The Game by Telltale Games.
Rumors and urban legends
Robert Zemeckis said on the film's behind-the-scenes featurette that the hoverboards (flying skateboards) used in the film were real, yet not released to the public due to parental complaints regarding safety. Footage of "real hoverboards" was also featured in the extras of a DVD release of the trilogy. A number of people thought Zemeckis was telling the truth and requested them at toy stores. In an interview, Thomas F. Wilson had said one of the most frequent questions he is asked is if hoverboards are real. After the release of Part III, Zemeckis explained in another interview that all of the flying scenes were accomplished by a variety of special effects techniques.
Depiction of the future
According to director Robert Zemeckis, the 2015 depicted in Back to the Future Part II was not meant to be an accurate depiction of the future; "For me, filming the future scenes of the movie were the least enjoyable of making the whole trilogy because I don't really like films that try and predict the future. The only one I've actually enjoyed were the ones done by Stanley Kubrick, and not even he predicted the PC when he made A Clockwork Orange. So rather than trying to make a scientifically sound prediction that we were probably going to get wrong anyway, we figured, let's just make it funny." Despite this, the filmmakers did do some research into what scientists thought may occur in the year 2015. Bob Gale also commented: "We knew we weren't going to have flying cars by the year 2015, but God we had to have those in our movie."
However, the film did accurately predict a number of technological and sociological changes, such as the rise of ubiquitous cameras, influence of Asian nations over the United States (though this was certainly already on the rise at the time of the film's release), flat panel television sets mounted on walls, the ability to watch six channels at once, internet video chat systems such as Skype, increased use of plastic surgery, head-mounted displays and automated fueling systems. The film also correctly predicted a future where video games do not need hands (Microsoft Kinect) or at the very least do not need traditional controllers (Wii Remote).
There was high demand for the Nike tennis shoes Marty wears with automatic shoe-laces, which some fans thought to be real. Nike eventually released a real version of their Hyperdunk Supreme shoes, which appear similar to Marty's shoes, in July 2008; fans dubbed them the Air McFly. An inspired fan named Blake Bevin also created shoes that tie themselves in 2010. In late August 2010, Nike filed the patent for self-lacing shoes, and their design bears a resemblance to those worn by Marty McFly in the second film. In September 2011, Nike revealed that their MAG line of shoes would not feature the self-lacing feature shown in the film.
After the Florida Marlins beat the Cleveland Indians in the 1997 World Series, and again in 2003, when the Marlins defeated the Cubs in the NLCS (and subsequently defeated the New York Yankees in the 2003 World Series), rumors circulated that the film predicted (or nearly predicted) the Series' results; however, this was not the case. In the film's future news broadcast, it is announced that the National League Chicago Cubs beat an American League team based in Miami, which was not named but has an alligator logo, in the 2015 World Series. Aside from the incorrect year, the mascot of the team mentioned does not match that of either current Florida-based team, the Miami Marlins or Tampa Bay Rays. At the time the movie was filmed, Florida did not have a Major League Baseball team of their own, but the Miami-based Marlins played their first season in 1993. Beginning with the 2012 season, the Marlins rebranded themselves as the Miami Marlins. At the time of the rebranding, Major League Baseball was planning to move one of the existing National League teams to the AL (American League) so that each league had the same number of teams; some Back to the Future fans as well as baseball fans wanted the Marlins to be the team that made the move to the AL in order the fulfill the "prophecy" in Back to the Future Part II. Although the Marlins were considered as a team that could switch leagues, MLB ultimately decided to move the Houston Astros to the AL for the 2013 MLB season.
Release and reception
Back to the Future Part II was released to theaters in North America on Wednesday November 22, 1989, the day before Thanksgiving. The film grossed a total of $27.8 million over Friday to Sunday, and $43 million across the five-day holiday opening. On the following weekend, it had a drop of 56 percent earning $12.1 million, but remained at #1. Part II's total gross was $118.5 million in the United States and $213 million overseas for a total of $332 million worldwide, ranking as 1989's sixth most successful film domestically and the third worldwide—behind Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Batman. However, this was still short of the first film's gross. Part III, which Universal Pictures released only six months later, experienced a similar drop.
Back to the Future Part II received generally positive reviews from film critics. As of March 2012, the film has a 64% approval rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 42 reviews with an average rating of 6.1/10.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three out of four stars. Ebert criticized the film for lacking the "genuine power of the original", but praised the film for its slapstick humor and the hoverboard in the film's chase sequence. Janet Maslin of The New York Times remarked that the film is "ready for bigger and better things." Maslin later went on to say that the film "manages to be giddily and merrily mind-boggling rather than confusing." Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader gave the film a negative review, criticizing Zemeckis and Gale for turning the characters into "strident geeks and make the frenetic action strictly formulaic." He also believed that the film contained "rampant misogyny" because the character of Jennifer Parker "is knocked unconscious early on so she won't interfere with the little-boy games" as well as Michael J. Fox doing drag. Variety said, "[Director Robert] Zemeckis' fascination with having characters interact at different ages of their lives hurts the film visually, and strains credibility past the breaking point, by forcing him to rely on some very cheesy makeup designs."
Back to the Future Part II was released on VHS and LaserDisc on May 22, 1990. Universal reissued the film on VHS, Laserdisc and Compact disc in 1991, 1995 and 1998. On December 17, 2002, Universal released the film on DVD in a boxed trilogy set, although widescreen framing problems led to a product recall. The trilogy was released on Blu-ray Disc in October 2010.
Awards and accolades
The film won the Saturn Award for Best Special Effects for Ken Ralston (the special effects supervisor), a BAFTA Film Award for Ken Ralston, an internet-voted 2003 AOL Movies DVD Premiere Award for the trilogy DVDs, a Golden Screen, a Young Artist Award, and the Blimp Awards for Favorite Movie Actor (Michael J. Fox) and Favorite Movie Actress (Lea Thompson) at the 1990 Kids' Choice Awards. It was nominated in 1990 for an Academy Award for Visual Effects.
Most visual effects nominations were due to the development of a new computer-controlled camera system, called VistaGlide, which was invented specifically for this film – it enables one actor to play two or even three characters in the same scene while the boundary between the sections of the split screen and the camera itself can be moving.
- Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale (2005). Back to the Future Feature: Making the Trilogy Part 2. Los Angeles: Universal Pictures.
- Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale (2005). Back to the Future Part II: Featurette (DVD). Los Angeles: Universal Pictures.
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- Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale (2005). Back to the Future Feature: Making the Trilogy Part 3. Los Angeles: Universal Pictures.
- Tales from the Future: Time Flies documentary, Back to the Future Trilogy Blu-ray, 2010
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- Chan, Casey (September 8, 2011). "The Nike Air Mag—AKA the Back to the Future Shoes—Are Real, and They’re Glorious". Gizmodo. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
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