Movie Review: "Back to the Future, Part III" (1990)
When we last left Marty McFly at the end of "Back to the Future, Part II", he had successfully stopped his nemesis, Biff, from becoming the corrupt rich man that he set out to be by retrieving the Sports Almanac book which he stole from the future. But in the process, he lost his good friend, Doc Brown whom was in the DeLorean when it was struck by lightning, sending backwards in time... to 1885.
"Back to the Future, Part III" picks up right where the previous installment left off, with Marty seeking out the help of Doc Brown from the past (in 1955) so that he can rescue the future Doc Brown from 1885. If that made you dizzy, just don't worry about it and have a seat, these kind of things happen all the time in the 'Back to the Future' movies.
However, unlike the first two 'Back to the Future' movies, "Back to the Future, Part III" pales in comparison in terms of story and excitement. "Back to the Future, Part III" is pretty much a rehash of all that we've seen before but in a western setting. Yes, the second installment rehashed some things too, but it added a lot of fresh material into it as well such as having our heroes jumping across different times as opposed to sticking to one. We even saw the future of the McFly family.
Well, there ain't much freshness to be found here...
No Gasoline = No Creativity
Upon arriving in 1885, Marty McFly ends up right in the middle of a chase between the U.S. Calvary and the Native Americans. Marty does his best to evade them but the DeLorean's fuel line ends up getting ruptured in the process. As a result, Marty has no choice but to hide the DeLorean in a cave and proceed on foot to Hill Valley. Rest assured, this is perhaps the most interesting part of the entire movie.
After that, it all begins to head downhill into predictable crap that we've all seen before in this series. But you know what? Aside from this being the best sequence in the movie, I'd like to think of it as a metaphor for the rest of the movie. The iconic time machine itself runs of gasoline in a time setting where gasoline does not exist, but at the same time, the screenplay runs out of creativity as well because creativity doesn't exist in the story that was decided for this third installment.
After meeting up with the 'original' Doc Brown in 1885, Marty learns that he's been devising a plan to get back to the future by using railroad locomotive to push the DeLorean to time traveling speed. But of course, there's some issues that get in the way of this. First and foremost, Doc Brown meets the love of his life and then Marty intervenes in Doc Brown's death when Buford 'Mad Dog' Tannen begins targeting him.
The problem here is that the entire middle section of this movie involves waiting for something to happen whereas in the first and third halves, things are actually happening. Marty arrives in 1885, gets chased by Natives, and his time machine gets damaged. The middle of the movie is about a bunch of idiots sitting around and waiting for two things to happen: A train to arrive and an idiot to shoot the hero. It certainly sounds like the script ran out of 'steam' there.
Rinse and Repeat
This is perhaps the biggest issue with "Back to the Future, Part III". It's taking us way back to a time period in the distant past but it's very difficult for us to immerse ourselves in that world because too many of the characters are similar to the ones we've seen before. Even the events themselves are similar. This movie seriously has a bad case of beating 'it' over the head way too many times.
We're in the wild west in 1885, but does that require us to see Marty's great ancestors? Or even Biff's? Going one step further, must they all be played by the same actors who just added a mustache and accent or two to distinguish themselves? The filmmakers are treading over familiar ground that was already covered in the first 'Back to the Future'. Just replace the love story with Doc Brown's, Biff with his great ancestor, Marty's parents with his great grandparents, the high school dance with the gun standoff, and so on.
For Christ's sake, they even have the same actors who played Biff's sidekicks playing his great ancestor's sidekicks. So you mean to tell me that these ancestors stayed friends through one entire century? Maybe if they're parents were all married to each other through one big orgy that lasted a hundred years, but I can't find this realistically tolerable.
I understand that this is partly a comedy series in some ways, but they're really pushing it by making all of these unnecessary character connections and plot events. Marty McFly's parents from 1985 don't look like him and they're played by different actors, his father was a nerd for Christ's sake! In "Back to the Future, Part II", I don't recall the lead bully being Biff's son or some crap. And in that movie, it made more sense to have the same actors playing the same characters because the timelines between the first and the second were close enough anyway.
What Should Have Been Done
Getting rid of all the visual character bloodline relations would have made for a great start because they were so... "Back to the Future, Part II", if you know what I mean. Give us a brand new villain, make something exciting happen during the middle of the film.
As an alternative, they didn't even have to stay in the wild, wild west timeline for the entirety of the film. Marty could have rescued Doc Brown, used the locomotive to get the DeLorean going, and accidentally end up somewhere else. So much more could have been done instead of beating the old 'Biff Tannen' horse over and over again.
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