Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Recap: "Back to the Future Part II" Part 2: A Present for the Past

Boy, that's not an unwieldy post title at all. The...


Wait a minute. What did that say?

My God....
It's Back to the Future Day!

Marty McFly arrives in eleven hours!

You can't hear it, but I am squee-ing really loudly right now.

So while I try to regain my composure, let's continue looking at Back to the Future Part II.

Why, yes, I will be watching this film synced up to real time tonight.
Later that night, the cops arrive at the McFly residence and deposit Jennifer on the couch, whereupon she wakes up.

Cop: "And be more careful in the future."

You officers have no idea.

And so, Jennifer gets her own taste of what the future's like. The first thing she notices is a window blind set to the Scenery Channel. And the second thing she notices is the wedding picture showing her and Marty getting married at the Chapel O' Love. So... yeah, her first impressions of the future sucks. And when a voice from upstairs asks "Mom?" she tries to leave, finding that the door doesn't have a handle. And with somebody coming downstairs quick to answer the doorbell, she hides in a closet.

So you know how Michael J. Fox is playing his own son? Well, naturally, that means that his and Jennifer's daughter, Marlene, is played by...

Michael J. Fox. You were expecting Crispin Glover?
Speaking of Crispin Glover, when Marlene opens the door for her grandparents, Grandma Lorraine is still played by Lea Thompson, but Grandpa George has a new actor.

There ya go.
Yes, they've resorted to hanging a heavily made-up (Jeffrey Weissman) upside down to hide that it's not Crispin Glover. Apparently, this is some kind of contraption the doctor put him in after he threw his back out.
Meanwhile, Doc and Marty are lamenting the traffic, and wondering about the taxi that almost seems to be following them....

Lorraine is upset that the window blind's reception isn't too good, leading Marlene to explain that when the repairman called Marty a chicken, he threw the guy out of the house.

Lorraine: "Your father's biggest problem, Marlene, is that he loses all self-control when someone calls him chicken."

And she goes on to reiterate the story about how Marty was called a chicken thirty years ago, and he ended up crashing into a Rolls-Royce...

Doc and Marty arrive outside Hilldale, followed by a taxi that they don't see containing Old Man Biff.

Back in the house, Lorraine is still going on about how Marty got sued up the wazoo and hurt his hand in the accident, while Lorraine listens in secret, discovering that the incident destroyed his career as a musician before it even began. But suddenly, Marty Jr. returns home and sees his mother-to-be! Disaster!

Marty Jr.: "Hey, mom, nice pants."

Yeah, he's not the brightest bulb.

Marty Jr. goes to the living room and turns on the flatscreen/widescreen TV, which I'd like to remind the assorted youngsters out there did not exist when this movie came out, making this one of the most accurate predictions in the film. Also, there's a commercial for fake breasts that I'm censoring just to be on the safe side

Look, you want pictures of breasts? You're on the internet. They're not hard to find.
Marty, Jr. turns on channels 18, 24, 63, 109, 83, and the Weather Channel. Which... yeah, multitasking. We've got it bad here in 2015. As I speak, I'm typing this on my laptop while watching the movie, catching up on Darths and Droids on my iPad, and checking my emails on my phone.

So Marty, Sr.... wait a second. Pull up the picture again and enlarge.

Hmmm... Now that I'm paying attention to the parts of the screen without breasts...
Enhance and enlarge the lower left portion!
My God....
Marty McFly Jr. is watching Age of Ultron.
This film is a prophet.
Anyway, Marty Sr. arrives home, having aged much worse and more rubbery than Michael J. Fox did in real life. And like most old men, he complains about what the kids have done to the thermostat while he was out and activates "Lithium Mode." The filmmakers have no idea what "Lithium Mode" is any more than Sandra Bullock knows what the three seashells from Demolition Man do.

Marty McFly, having been told to stay with the car by Doc, wanders off to see an automatic dogwalker. Old Man Biff takes the opportunity to head back in time and set wrong what once went right.

Over with the McFlys, Lorraine sticks what appears to be a pizza bagel in the Rehydrator for a few seconds, creating a beautiful, hot and ready pizza while Marty Jr. tunes into the Atrocity Channel. Finally, the History Channel created a separate network for their endless Hitler documentaries!

And yes, teens on their devices during dinner is a thing now. Good job, movie.
They all sit down for dinner, wondering where Jennifer is, which brings up an interesting point. Even if Marty Sr. doesn't know the specifics of what's going on right now, shouldn't he remember going to this very day with Doc and Jennifer? Shouldn't Marty Sr. know that Jennifer is somewhere in the house? Of course, this will be rendered moot by a bigger plot hole, but we'll get to that.

As Marty Jr. gets some fruit from a ceiling dispenser while watching TV on his Google Glass, the phone rings. It's some guy named "Needles," so Marty Sr. takes it in the other room.

Douglas J. Needles is played by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers for some reason. And he called up Marty Sr. to talk him into an apparently-lucrative, and apparently-illegal, business deal. Marty Sr.'s worried about somebody called "the Jits," though and backs down. Until Needles calls Marty chicken.

Marty scans his card, whatever that does, and Needles signs out.

You know, this isn't too far off from the "screensaver" when I pause TV, now that DirecTV and AT&T have merged.
But that's when Mr. Fujitsu signs in. He monitored the whole transaction and has no choice but to fire Marty, despite his claims that he was running a sting operation.

Personally, I'd fire him for wearing two ties at once.
Every single fax machine in the house spits out a "YOU'RE FIRED!!!" message, which Marty tries to play off as an office joke.

ASCII writing; truly, the most professional way to lay somebody off.
My theory? This was a sting operation against Marty. Fujitsu wanted to see how easy it would be to push Marty into doing something blatantly illegal, and fired him when he saw how much of a liability Marty is.

Anyway, Doc knocks on the window in Jennifer's hiding place to explain how to work the knobless door. Before she can exit, however, she runs into her future self, freaking them both out and making them both faint.

Hands in the air like they just don't care. Or possibly jazz hands. Now that's acting.
Meanwhile, Biff returns in the DeLorean, runs out, and collapses in pain while it's implied that he's disappearing from time. "Implied" because they cut the actual fading out, so it looks like he's having a random heart attack. According to the filmmakers, in this timeline, Biff was shot in the 90's by Lorraine McFly. And we'll see why very soon....

Marty and Doc get Jennifer in the DeLorean as Doc vows to destroy the DeLorean when all is said and done.

Marty: "Destroy it? What about all that stuff about humanity? Where we're going, and why?"

But Doc says that this whole ordeal has convinced him that time travel is too dangerous. After all, Doc was being cautious as Hell, and things still got pretty out of hand.

Doc Brown: "My only regret is that I'll never get a chance to visit my favorite historical era. The Old West!"

Heh heh heh....

Doc Brown: "Better that I devote myself to study the other great mystery of the universe. Women."

So... you're going to become a gynecologist, or what?
They head back to 1985 and deposit Jennifer on the porch swing at her house so they can convince her that it was all a dream. With that done, Doc heads back to his lab after dropping Marty off at his house. But things are different. There's a lock on the gate now, and Marty ends up having to climb into his bedroom window, where he finds somebody on his bed. And in fact, a whole different African-American family. Which means that instead of returning home, Marty's climbin' in yo window, snatchin' yo people up.

After narrowly escaping the patriarch's baseball bat, Marty finds himself running towards Hill Valley. Wrecked cars. Gunshots. Chalk outlines. He checks a newspaper to confirm, and it is indeed October 26th, 1985. But before Marty can read further, Mr. Strickland points a shotgun at Marty's head.

Strickland: "So you're the son-of-a-bitch that's been stealing my newspapers."

He doesn't recognize Marty, who desperately tries to explain what's up.

Strickland: "I've never seen you before in my life, but you look to me like a slacker!"

But the reason Strickland's never met Marty?

Strickland: "The school burned down six years ago!"

A drive-by shooting interrupts the goings-on, after which Marty runs deep into downtown Hill Hell Valley. Loud music, bums, biker gangs, and the old courthouse has been transformed into a Biff Tannen-themed casino and resort, complete with a Biff Museum. Marty decides to get inside a a tank runs around the streets, and takes a look at the Museum.

An exhibit goes into detail about Biff's family, including his ancestor, Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen, and his personal history. After winning big at the tracks, Biff became a multi-millionaire (earning the nickname "The Luckiest Man of Earth"), built a shady company called "BiffCo," legalized gambling, and married Lorraine Baines McFly. This elicits a big "NOOOOOOOOOO!" from Marty, shortly before Biff's gang knocks him on the head, knocking him out for a bit. When he comes to and hears his mom...

Marty: "Ugh. Ow. Horrible nightmare, it was terrible."
"You're safe and sound, now, back on the good ol' 27th floor."
"27th floor!?"

Realizing he's in Biff's tower, he jumps up and, horrified, takes a look at his mom.

Marty: "Mom... mom, that can't be you."
Lorraine: "Yes, it's me, Marty; are you alright?"
Marty: "I'm fine, I'm fine, it's just that you're so... you're so...big."

Marty, how come when you wake up in any given time period, the first thing you do is look at your mom's chest?
And when Biff yells for Lorraine in the other room...

Lorraine: "Oh, my God, it's your father."
Marty: "My father?"

"Hey, butthead. I... am your father."
Biff bursts in and yells at Marty, who's apparently supposed to be in a boarding school in Switzerland. This leads to a full-blown shouting match between Biff and Lorraine. She threatens to leave him when he insults George McFly and punches Marty in the gut, but she gives up when Biff threatens her kids.

He tells Marty to get out and leaves while Lorraine starts victim-blaming herself while heading towards her special medicine from Dr. Jack Daniels.

Marty: "How could you leave dad for him?"
Lorraine: "'Leave dad'? Marty, are you feeling alright?"
Marty: "No! No, I'm not feeling alright, I don't understand one damn thing that's goin' on around here and why no one can give me a simple, straight answer!"
Lorraine: "Oh, they must have hit you over the head hard this time."
Marty: "Mom, I just wanna know one thing... Where's my father? Where's George McFly?"
Lorraine: "Marty... George... you father is in the same place he's been for the past twelve years. Oak Park Cemetery."

So… he’s a gravekeeper?

Ohhhhhh. Writing around the disappearance of Crispin Glover. Clever.

Marty runs out to the graveyard and finds his dad's tombstone, along with Doc Brown, who came to the graveyard looking for Marty when he found out about George. They head back to Doc's place and go through the records Doc got from the library. Things are more than a bit different, which means that something happened in the past to create a new alternate 1985, which Doc illustrates with a couple of lines on a chalkboard, which I'll replicate, because this is where things get tricky.

This line represents history.

At some point before 1985, an alternate reality was formed by somebody changing the past.

So... what Doc doesn't know is why this model doesn't work, which I'll elaborate on.

Here's my chart.

Biff is from point A. Then he traveled back to point B, changing things, right?

This meant that instead of Point C, point D happened instead; the new Hell Valley, 1985.

With me so far? Good.

Here's my question. How did Biff get back to point A to return the DeLorean? 2015 would have also been along this alternate timeline, resulting in a Point E.

The closest answer that works is that it took a while for the changes to spread throughout the time stream, like how Marty slowly disappeared in the first film, allowing Biff to quickly head back to Point A before the changes caught up to him.

Sorry if you have this look on your face right now.
To put it as simply as possible....

The old picture was getting a little too predictable.
Anyway, Doc finds the bag that the Almanac came in and the broken-off tip of Biff's cane inside the time machine. They realize that at some point in 2015, Old Man Biff went back in time and changed the past by giving himself the Almanac. This is confirmed when an old photo from 1958 shows Biff winning his millions with the Almanac in his pocket.

Marty: "The son-of-a-bitch stole my idea!"

Doc reiterates that this sort of thing is why the time machine must be destroyed eventually. Marty, wracked with guilt, gets the idea to go back to the future and keep Biff out of the time machine.

Doc Brown: "We can't. Because if we travel into the future from this point in time, it will be the future of this reality."

So, again, how did Biff manage to do exactly that? More importantly, can the same technique be used to save Caitlin from that alternate future from Season 2 of Heroes?

Seriously, this still bugs me.
Doc glosses over the issue by holding up a newspaper that shows him being taken to an insane asylum...

Apparently, he thought he was a cartoon character.
Ended up dropping an anvil on some poor private detective. well as the infinitely more horrifying news that Nixon is trying to get elected to a fifth term, somehow.

Which could easily put this movie within the Watchmen timeline.
Doc says that they need to go back in time to whenever Old Man Biff went to stop him from changing history. So Marty has an idea.

Marty: "I'll ask him."

Coming up in Part 3! A blast from the past!

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