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Film Review: Back to the Future Part III

Updated on December 13, 2015
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Written by: Jason Wheeler, Film Frenzy Senior Writer & Editor.


In 1990, Robert Zemeckis released Back to the Future Part III, the third and final installment of the Back to the Future trilogy. Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Thomas F. Wilson, Lea Thompson, James Tolkan, Elisabeht Shue, Jeffrey Weissman, and Flea, the film grossed $244.5 million at the box office. The sixth-highest grossing film of 1990, the film won the Saturn Awards for Best Music and Best Supporting Actor as well as an AOL Movies DVD Premiere Award for Best Special Edition of the Year, which was awarded based on consumer votes online.


Following the events of the second film, Doc’s letter tells Marty he hid the DeLorean and to get back to 1985. However, when Mary finds that that Doc was shot dead by Biff’s ancestor, Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen, he disregards the advice and heads to the Old West to Save Doc.


Though it wasn’t as good as the first two, Back to the Future Part III is still well made and still a highly enjoyable film. And one reason for it being a good entry into an already great series is how it continues to highlight the good friendship between Doc and Marty. It’s seen early on when Marty gets to 1885 and runs afoul of Buford, causing him to tie Marty up and drag him behind his horse. When Buford decides to have an impromptu hanging, Doc shoots Marty down with a telescopic rifle and then aims it at Buford, standing up to the man’s threats without flinching. It shows that he’s not afraid to stand up to the local outlaw when his friend is in trouble. The letter is also an endearingly heartwarming example as Doc writes that Marty has always been a good, kind and loyal friend who made a difference in his life and carries a special place in his heart. Marty shows his side as well, showing that he decides to go back to 1885 when he realizes that Doc is going to be shot without hesitating and even stands up to Buford himself at the climax of the film.

And Marty standing up to Buford does more than show what good friends he and Doc are. It helps to bring around and finish the character arc that was started in the previous film. Back to the Future Part III established that Marty had a problem with being called any variant of a coward. But throughout the film, he comes to realize that his own hotheadedness is going to get him nowhere except killed, seen when he finds out that he was named after his ancestor Martin, who Seamus states that his temper is what got him killed. It helps him overcome his insecurities and decide to night fight Buford over being called yellow, instead declaring that Buford is just an “asshole” and not caring what he or anybody else says. But this character development is in good conjunction with his friendship with Doc as it shows that he doesn’t care about his masculinity being threatened anymore. What he does care about is the threatening of his best friend, showing that he’s finally understood what’s important. The resulting fight also has a really good call back, demonstrating that Marty has a good memory of the scene from A Fistful of Dollars in the previous film. When fighting Buford, he decides to do it one on one and uses an iron stove door as a bulletproof vest before using it to knock out Buford.

Speaking of Buford, he’s good as a villain, being the most cutthroat of all the Tannens that have shown up in the series. He’s killed so many people that newspapers stopped keeping count and tries to hang Marty simply for calling him “Mad Dog” and dropping a spittoon on him. What’s more is he actually tried to shoot him first, but found that he was out of ammo.

As for the romantic subplot of the film, it’s a surprisingly well done representation of an attraction at first sight. What’s more is that it doesn’t feel out of place at all and helps to give the film more tension, seeing as Doc has to decide what he deems to be more important: staying in a past time he doesn’t belong in simply for love or going back to his rightful time.

4 stars for Back to the Future Part III

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinion


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