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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Michael J Fox
Christopher Lloyd
Lea Thompson
Crispin Glover.
Directors
Robert Zemeckis.
Screenwriters
Bob Gale.
Running Time
116 minutes

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Back To The Future
Time travel antics with Michael J. Fox


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Plot
Marty McFly helps out his friend Doc Brown, and ends up being taken back in time by Doc's time-machine. Marty, a boy of the 80's, has to come to grips with being in the 50's and get his parents to fall in love to set straight the damage his presence has done to the events of the past.


Review
It could all have been so different. In fact, it could all have been a disaster. At the end of 1984 director Robert Zemekis, who had been shooting his second movie, Back To The Future, for over a month was not a happy man. He was saddled with a lead actor who just didn't cut it as a happy-go-lucky, wisecracking teen. He was more like an angst-ridden 40-year-old struggling to make sense of existence in a godless universe.

To make matters worse he'd seen a young actor perfect for the role. Michael J. Fox, then the star of TV sitcom Family Ties radiated youthful joie de vivre and frankly, for a movie with a solid teen base, was just gosh-darned cuter. Something had to be done. Eric Stoltz was out. Fox was in. And they started all over again. But if Back To The Future was the product of a fractured shoot, what emerged was well worth the agony. An almost perfectly wrought slice of old fashioned escapist fantasy, it not only announced the celluloid arrival of the finest light-comedy actor of his generation, but was one of the very few films made in the avaricious, style-challenged 80s that transcended and survived the ugly extremes of its era (skintight stonewashed jeans which, one unkind critic remarked, "look like they've been masturbated over by a troupe of boy scouts" excepted) and which remains an utterly beguiling little gem.

Among the plethora of innocent charms on offer, there's the near perfect script by Zemekis and Bob Gale which not only negotiates its
time travel paradoxes with deft, exuberant wit but invests the light-hearted plot machinations with a seasoning note of honest drama (Doc's death within the first 10 minutes throws the comedy into pleasing relief and provides welcome dramatic release when we find, at the end, that the worst isn't true).

There's Alan Silvestri's Williamsesque score; a plethora of memorable set-pieces — Marty's premature invention of the skateboard as he rips the top of a young kid's box-cart; his introduction of rock 'n' roll which develops into an anachronistic, Hendrix-style guitar solo ("Maybe you're not ready for that," McFly admits, "but trust me, your kids are going to love it.") as well as nods to other sci-fi movies — an innovation in the mid-80s when Tarantino was still re-racking the late-returns. When Marty has to convince his not-yet-dad to ask his not-yet-mom out he poses as Darth Vader (a variation on the joke appears in Part III when he calls himself Clint Eastwood) and claims to have come from the planet Vulcan.

And then there's the tastefully-handled Oedipal riff which, in less talented hands, might have been uncomfortable, if not downright nauseating. But at the heart of Back To The Future is the towering talent of the diminutive (his least favourite word, "Why can't they just call me short?") Michael J. Fox. Thrust into the spotlight in recent times due to illness, Fox established himself here as quite simply the most charming screen presence of the 80s.

Weirdly, shortly after the massive success of the BTTF trilogy, it became de rigeur to bash the actor. Obviously his enormous talent for light comedy didn't sit well with the hip-cynicism of the 90s. Applying anything approaching rigorous criticism to Back To The Future would be like taking a jack-hammer to a perfectly risen souffle, but there are a number of intriguing readings to Zemekis' movie, particularly since hostile critics of the directors' subsequent work, Forrest Gump and Contact, have detected in him a Capra-esque conservatism. You could make the case that BTTF is a manipulative critique of the 80s through the prism of an airbrushed version of the 50s that owes more to George Lucas' American Graffiti than the turmoil of the decade itself (the burning crosses and blacks dangling from trees are presumably "just out of shot").

Zemekis seems to be accusing the 80s of betraying the American Post War dream; Marty's frumpy, nervous, bullied family are not the way things were meant to turn out (next to them at the dinner table you wonder if Marty ever inquired whether he was adopted) in the same way that the grasping 80s are not the legitimate offspring of the "innocent" 50s. Of course this is all a bit speculative. But if Back To The Future doesn't hold big ideas well, it remains like its star — small, but perfectly formed.


Verdict
To put it bluntly: if you don't like Back To The Future, it's difficult to believe that you like films at all.


Reviewed by Adam Smith

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Back To The Future
Empire Star Rating

Perfection

One of the most well-made, unbelievably entertaining movies you'll ever see in your life. Reminds you what movies were made for. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 11:48, 18 March 2013 | Report This Post


Back to the future

An instant classic ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by antosh25 at 11:27, 06 December 2011 | Report This Post


Great Scott!

An masterpiece in my opinion. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bubbagump9 at 20:27, 23 March 2011 | Report This Post


what a film

great scott! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bubbagump9 at 16:04, 13 March 2011 | Report This Post


p://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088763/]Back To The Futureatched it for the second time in 4 months, this time on blu-ray. Although I was quite sceptical and hesitant when I saw the screenshots I have to say that it wasn`t bad at all. There are a few moments that looked a bit soft in spots but overall I enjoyed the tight,sharp and detailled transfer. The film itself remains cool as ever. /b] ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 07:08, 07 November 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Back To The Future

Went to see this yesterday. It's in my top ten films of all time. An absolute classic. From start to finish, this is as close to perfect storytelling as you can get. Every single moment moves the story forwards, develops the characters and moves you closer to the climactic finish. If you haven't seen this film you must. No matter how many times I see it, every time I watch George grow some balls I nearly cry with joy. ... More

Posted by jrewing1000 at 17:45, 31 October 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The best film in cinemas is 25 years old!

L: kargon Sorry bout this, but I think it's a bit overrated sp; Why don't you make like a tree, and get out of here? ... More

Posted by tftrman at 10:29, 14 October 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The best film in cinemas is 25 years old!

^ there's that horrible/useless word again. Saw it in Leicester Square last weekend. The pacing and pitch of the film remain flawless. ... More

Posted by hatebox at 14:18, 13 October 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The best film in cinemas is 25 years old!

Sorry bout this, but I think it's a bit overrated ... More

Posted by kargon at 13:30, 13 October 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The best film in cinemas is 25 years old!

Saw it on a big screen last Saturday and, despite the fact I've seen it like a billion times, it was just as enjoyable and entertaining as it always is. Like someone said above, it's disheartening that the best mainstream film in cinemas right now is 25 years old, nothing I've seen this year could hold a candle to it. A true blue, stone cold classic that will no doubt still have people watching it 25 years from now. ... More

Posted by Mr Underhill at 13:12, 13 October 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The best film in cinemas is 25 years old!

Going to see this tonight! Vaguely remember seeing it on the big screen originally as a 7 year old so it'll be nice to relive the experience. ... More

Posted by tftrman at 15:27, 08 October 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The best film in cinemas is 25 years old!

Genius, never get tired of this film and the digital cleanup of the print was great. A little disappointed though that this has been the best thing I've seen in the cinema this year - try harder Hollywood ... More

Posted by Marwood at 14:39, 08 October 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The best film in cinemas is 25 years old!

I agree you have to see this film on the big screen if you get the chance or you have truly missed out. ... More

Posted by sanchia at 17:55, 06 October 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The best film in cinemas is 25 years old!

This is heavy... Proudly jumping on the banwagon of Back to the Future fandom! Yay! inally saw it on the big screen and Great Scott was it good! I'd seen it numerous times on TV, DVD and VHS (lol) but at the cinema it was just amazing. It is quite sad that the best, most entertaining and genuinely fun film of this year...was made 25 years ago lol There were some good films this year but compared to B2TF...small potatoes... Go see it!  ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Edward Nygma at 14:29, 06 October 2010 | Report This Post


The best film in cinemas is 25 years old!

I took my girlfriend to see Back to the Future, after discovering the potentially relationship ending revelation that she had not watched the movie all the way through! This is one of my favourite films of all time and one of the best films ever made. Watched this in a huge screen in Westfield and was pleased to find it playing to a packed out auditorium. Lots of children were settling down before the film but when it started, they weren't distracting at all; they were getting really involved... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Workshed at 12:17, 03 October 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Back To The Future

Yes, there are sci fi movies that ruin what could be great ideas, and then, thankfully, we get an occassional well written, creative piece like this. I credit the behind the scene talents, although I have high regard for the actors as well. This was a good idea that didn't go bad. Good writing, good directing, good acting, good team all around. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by drystyx at 11:21, 03 October 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Going Back To The Future, Again

25 years on and it is a film which still stands up. I cannot remember having to queue for a cinema showing for a long time but we had to for this screening. It was slightly annoying to start with in that the bloke in front of me was quoting along with the film but once things got rolling he soon quitetened down. The film itself shows its quality. The audience (even thought they knew what was going to happen) laughed along with the humour and you could feel them tense when the action ra... More

Posted by sanchia at 00:24, 03 October 2010 | Report This Post


Going Back To The Future, Again

It’s not an easy feat to stand the test of time and more often than not any ‘product’, be it a film, novel, piece of music or work of art has a stringent best before date. It’s hard to notice at first, but just how we ourselves age before we know it, a film like anything else can suddenly seem extremely dated, particularly those few rare films we loved when we little. Back To The Future, which is re-released in cinemas today, is a whole other kettle of fish. http://bit.ly... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by davidpenfold96 at 07:51, 01 October 2010 | Report This Post


Best time travel movie ever

This movie is awsome!!! Fun, action, laughs, skateboard and "Johnie be good"!!! Every one should see this movie. The Best, the Best, the Best!!!!!!!!!!!! Gona get back in time. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by kassios at 19:13, 28 September 2010 | Report This Post


Back To The Future

After my brother and me watched the last hour of part 2 on tv, I felt like rewatching part 1: ttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088763/]Back To The FutureThe first part of one my all-time favorite trilogy`s.What can I still say about it? Michael J. Fox is awesome in the lead and makes a great couple with Christopher Lloyd. The story is really well written, something that`ll show even more in the later installments. Nothing wrong with it, still entertaining all the way trough! /b] ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 23:56, 17 July 2010 | Report This Post


THIS IS HEAVY ! ( in a good way)

This becomes a FIVE STAR film soooo easily . ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by spartan24 at 17:43, 21 March 2010 | Report This Post


SOOOOOO COOOOOOOOL !!!

It makes me want to build a time machine and go back to the 80'S ! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by spartan24 at 12:38, 15 March 2010 | Report This Post


An American Classic for the World to Enjoy

With Love From New Zealand :) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by monkeyhumour at 08:42, 25 February 2010 | Report This Post


Futuristic

Definitly the best and Part II was even better too bad about the terrible Part III ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by S1lent B0b at 14:06, 09 September 2009 | Report This Post


Easily One Of The Best

Michael J. Fox gives a great performance as Marty McFly and so does Christopher Loyd, as Doctor Emmet Brown. This film is highly entertaining and is a great storyline and is great viewing to see that his mother is falling for him and and he has to patch things up between his parents to save himself from no extistence. Though Stephen Speilberg didnt have a big part in the crew in the film, it is still just as great as a Speilberg film! The films great soundtrack which features much of Huey Lewis ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SlasherHorrorFan at 07:58, 22 June 2009 | Report This Post


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