Ending with a big tease sequence of highlights for Back To The Future Part III, this was always going to be the longest movie trailer in Hollywood history. The fact that Part II is now being released on video almost simultaneously with Part Ill's theatrical airing simply confirms this. Emphatically episode two of a three-part serial, this second instalment doesn't make much sense unless you're familiar with the plot of the original film, calling into question as it does all the personal histories so tidily resolved there. We begin in 1985 with
(Fox) just about to give his girlfriend Jennifer (Thompson) a spin in his new pick-up. Suddenly hyperactive inventor Doc (Lloyd) is on the scene with the DeLorean time machine warning that Marty's future son needs help in the year 2015. A zip forward into a world of aerial skate boards and self-fastening shoes has unexpectedly disastrous results when the old man version of Biff (Wilson, the bad guy from the first film) borrows the time machine and gives his younger 1955 self a 50-year sports almanac which enables him to bet his way to untold riches, bump off Marty's Pop and not only marry his mom but force her to have breast enlargement surgery. The radically different 1985 that Marty returns to has thus become an amoral, violent mess with the only solution being another trip back to 1955 . . .
Directed and played with terrific verve, this moves so fast from one special effects set-piece to the next that there's no time at all to reflect on the basic ridiculousness of its Chinese box of a plot. At the same time there's also quite a strong undercurrent of bleakness. The shopping mall Consumerville of 2015 — all video screens, holograms and a middle-aged Marty being fired by his Japanese boss — is hardly enviable for all its hi-tech trimmings. 1955, however, is still a golden age of innocence where anything is possible and it's one of the film's slickest achievements that it manages to successfully bind an entirely new angle to the rock'n'roll finale of the original film without at all suggesting a mere rehash of the old material. Glossy, high-energy escapism, BTTF2 easily gets the job done, even if it does now tend to look more and more like an expedient bridge between two much bigger movies