Thursday, October 22, 2015

Recap: "Back to the Future Part II" Part 3: Thunderstruck

It's the day after Marty McFly arrived. No matter how you slice it, we're living in the future.

But alas, as our revelries come to an end, I've still got to finish up Back to the Future Part II.

So let's continue.

Setting my calendar to go off February 14th, 2016....
While Biff watches that scene from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly where Clint Eastwood uses a makeshift bulletproof vest...

Which probably isn't foreshadowing of any kind....
... while sitting in the hot tub with two ladies (Biff, not Clint), Marty turns off the TV and demands to know about the Almanac. They head into Biff's office and he spills the beans, like any proper villain.

Biff: "November 12, 1955, that was when."
Marty: "November 12, 1955? That was the day I went back... That... was the day of the famous Hill Valley lightning storm."
Biff: "You know your history. Very good."

And suspicious, since the school burned down.

Biff goes on to explain that he had just picked his car up from the shop because he'd rolled it in a drag race... but Marty brings up that it was a manure incident. When questioned, Marty claims that his dad told him that story. Biff doesn't look convinced (probably because George died when Marty was, like, five), but continues the story about how this old guy came up and claimed to be his distant relative.

Biff: "I don't see any resemblance."

"The guy's face looked like a rubber old age mask. Not like mine."
Biff continues that the old guy gave him this almanac with fifty years of future sports trivia. No strings attached. While Biff puts the almanac away, Marty steals a matchbook for no real reason.

Biff: "Oh, and he told me one more thing. He said, 'Someday, a crazy, wild-eyed scientist or a kid may show up asking about that book. And if that ever happens...'"

He doesn't finish, but the gun in his hand speaks volumes.

Biff: "I never thought it would be you."

Marty uses the "What the hell is that!?" trick again, and escapes Biff's gunshots. He gives the brute squad the slip, but Biff manages to follow him up to the roof.  He tells Marty that he can jump or get shot. Either way, Biff walks away smelling like roses, because he owns the police.

Biff: "I suppose it's poetic justice! Two McFlys with the same gun."

That's not poetic justice, that's synchronicity. And even if it were, Biff never fires the gun. Before he can, Marty steps off the edge of the building, only to be brought back up on the hood of the DeLorean. After Doc knocks out Biff with the gullwing door, Marty gets in.

Marty: "You're not gonna believe this. We've gotta go back to 1955!"
Doc Brown: "I don't believe it!"

Doc sets the time circuits while musing about the coincidence.

Doc Brown: "It could mean that that point in time inherently contains some sort of cosmic significance! Almost as if it were the temporal junction point for the entire space-time continuum! On the other hand, it could just be an amazing coincidence."

The time circuit shorts out for a second, showing January 1st, 1885, but a quick slap fixes it. Marty wonders about Jennifer and Einstein, but Doc insists that once they change the past, reality will fold around them, putting them in the proper 1985 once the past is corrected.

Again, this means that Peter totally could have saved Caitlin. Feel free to resolve this, Heroes Reborn.
Marty: "Doc... what if we don't succeed?"
Doc Brown:
"We must succeed."

Technically, that's not an answer.

Marty and Doc arrive in the past, behind the billboard for Lyon Estates.

Marty: "Oh, this is heavy, Doc. I mean, it's like I was just here yesterday!"
Doc Brown: "You were here yesterday, Marty, you were!"

Doc explains the plan. Old Man Biff needs to give the Almanac to 1955 Biff, so he can believe that he succeeded and take the DeLorean back to 2015. Then, Marty needs to grab the Almanac somehow. Doc gives Marty some binoculars, a walkie-talkie, and some cash so he can buy a new outfit so he can stakeout Biff, while he and Doc avoid their past selves.

Marty chose... poorly.
He watches Biff yell at his grandma, and vice versa, as Biff heads out to go pick up his car, stopping only to throw some kids' ball onto a roof. Biff gets to his car, where the man who gave Marty the idea to buy the Almanac in the future, Terry, has just fixed it up while Marty and Old Man Biff watch.

Old Man Biff: "The manure! I remember that."

Marty sneaks under a blanket in the back, and Biff harasses the nearby Lorraine. She says that she's going to the dance with Calvin Klein, after lying that she was washing her hair that night.

Also, I just noticed, but Biff's shirt. What is even the heck?
Biff: "'That's about as funny as a screen door on a battleship."
Marty: "Screen door on a submarine, you dork."

Lorraine kicks him in the shin and runs off, leaving him to yell at her about how he's going to marry her someday.

Old Man Biff: "You always did have a way with women."
Biff: "Get the hell out of my car, old man!"

Okay, in all seriousness, that's my favorite out of all of Biff's outbursts. He simply doesn't know what to make of what's going on.

Old Man Biff insists that he can help Biff get Lorraine, and back up his claim by starting Biff's car.

Biff: "Nobody can start this car but me."
Old Man Biff: "Just get in the car, Tannen. Today's your lucky day."

Old Man Biff takes Young Man Biff on a wild ride back home, before telling him to shut up and listen. Old Man Biff claims to be a distant relative and gives Biff a little present that'll make him rich.

"Well, I was going to invest some money in this company called 'Aflac' that just started up, but this works."
Old Man Biff explains that the Almanac has information from the future, which Biff doesn't believe, throwing the Almanac back in a crappy blue screen composite. Old Man Biff turns on the football game and tells Biff that the losers, UCLA, are going to win 19-17, with only a few seconds to go.

And it comes true, as it did in real life, when UCLA's Jim Decker kick a field goal in the last second, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. So Biff is listening.

Old Man Biff: "All ya gotta do is bet on the winner... and you'll never lose."

"Really? Your brilliant advice is to tell me to not lose bets?"
"Basically, yeah."
Biff discards it for later, but gets yelled at by Old Man Biff to never let it out of his sight. And to get a safe for it. Oh, and if this crazy, wild-eyed scientist or kid come around....

After they leave, Marty gets out of the back seat and discovers that he's locked in the garage, so he radios Doc for help, forcing him to venture into town by foot to help Marty.

That night, Biff takes the car and heads to the dance, with Marty in the backseat... just before Doc comes along on a bike to help Marty escape. Whoops.

As Biff drives to the dance, "Papa Loves Mambo" plays over his radio, referencing the fact that this was the song that was originally going to be used in Back to the Future's "Mr. Sandman" sequence. Marty radios Doc, but the signal is lost when Biff heads into a tunnel.

But Doc stopped his bike to talk to Marty and finds himself next to the DeLorean.  When Marty and Doc catch up over the radio, Doc tells Marty to avoid his other self at all costs... just as 1955 Doc asks him to pass a wrench.

A pair o' Docs.
Doc Brown: "Five-eighths? Uh, don't you mean three-quarters?"
'55 Doc: "My, you're right."
Doc Brown: "I presume that you're conducting some sort of weather experiment?"

Doc promises his past self that the weatherman's wrong and there will be plenty of rain, and they part amicably.

'55 Doc: "Maybe we'll bump into each other some time in the future."
Doc Brown: "Or in the past...."

Fun fact: A man with Doc's clothes and bike can be seen in this scene in the original Back to the Future. The filmmakers maintain that this was not the original intent, since the sequel hadn't been planned yet..

Biff arrives at the dance, taking the Almanac with him. Marty reluctantly follows him inside and watches stock footage of George McFly through his binoculars. He sneaks around to where Biff is looking at a dirty magazine, which is what they used to use for porn before the internet was invented, kids.

As Biff reads, one of his cronies spikes the punch. Strickland gets suspicious, so the gang heads outside, as does Marty. Biff tells his boys to go find Calvin Klein, and reads his dirty magazine. Before Marty can swipe the Almanac and run, Strickland comes over to ask if that's alcohol on Biff's breath.

Biff: "Uh, I-I wouldn't know; I don't know what liquor smells like 'cause I'm too young to drink it."

Heh. Smooth.

Strickland confiscates the Almanac and Marty follows, sneaking around the side of the car that "Calvin" and Lorraine are in. Lorraine insists that when she has kids, she'll let them do whatever they want.

Past Marty: "I'd like to have that in writing...."
Marty: "Yeah, me too."

If you've seen Back to the Future, you might not recognize that part. Well, that's because the line was cut from that film, but reinserted here in the sequel.

Marty makes his way to Strickland's office, and after a sequence that's Solid Snake-meets-Stooge, he manages to get his hands on... Biff's porn with the Almanac's dust jacket over it. Marty laments to Doc over the phone that there's no way to get the Almanac back because Biff could be anywhere... before seeing Biff and George's altercation out the window.

He rushes out to see the climactic punch, and waits until George, Lorraine, and his past self are out of the way before rushing over to Biff under the pretense of helping him.

Marty: "It's okay, I know CPR. I know CPR."
Guy: "What's CPR?"

Biff comes to and recognizes Marty, so he decks him one just to be safe before making off with the Almanac while one of the bit players milks his line for all its worth.

Guy: "Hey, did you just take his wallet? He just took that guy's wallet!"

Marty tells Doc the good news, and they plan a rendezvous on the roof of the gym. Unfortunately, Marty runs into Biff's gang, who are a bit confused that Marty got out of that trunk. After a "What's that," Marty runs off while Doc heads to the school with a malfunctioning time circuit.

As Marty plays "Earth Angel" on stage, the goon squad waits backstage to jump him after he plays Johnny B. Goode. So Marty drops some sandbags on their heads, ensuring that his younger self can head back to 1985.

Moral of the story: Hurting people resolves paradoxes.
Meanwhile, Biff wakes up and after being told that some guy stole his wallet....

Wallet Guy, never change.
...heads after Marty, finding him watching himself talk to Lorraine. Biff challenges Marty to a fight, which Marty declines.

Biff: "Are you chicken!?"

Well, shoot.

Marty walks back to confront Biff, only to get knocked down by his past self. Biff finds the Almanac in Marty's coat and decides to teach the little butthead a lesson by kicking him while he's down and driving off.  With nothing else to do, Marty cuts across to the roof and says that he blew it. So Doc tells him to get in and they follow in the DeLorean from above.

Marty rides along on the hoverboard to get to Biff's car and reaches in, but Biff notices him before he can grab the Almanac. He tries to run Marty into the wall of that tunnel, but Marty simply grabs onto the bumper.  Like an idiot, Biff tries to get the Almanac off the windshield while driving instead of pulling over, only to nearly hit a truck while hitting Marty. In a last-ditch effort, Marty flips over the car with his board, nabs the Almanac, and lands on the ground.

Biff, deciding to add "homicide" to his list of crime tonight, tries to run him down, but Marty grabs on to a banner stuck to the DeLorean in Doc's earlier takeoff while Biff is yet again forced to crash into a manure truck.

There's a theory here that Doc's deus ex machina only happened because he failed originally, meaning that he traveled back to exactly where Marty needed him to be.

I'll buy it.

Doc takes Marty back to the Lyon Estate billboard, but can't land himself because of the oncoming storm. Marty burns the book with the matchbook he stole from the alternate future. And sure enough, the detailing on the matchbook changes to one advertising Biff's automotive detailing business.

And all the horrible newspaper predictions change, too. George McFly gets some kind of honor, Doc gets a civic award, and Jennifer and Einstein are fine.

"Hey, Doc. This is about the time the DeLorean gets hit by lightning, right?"
"Yep! Any second now!"
"Uh... That wasn't what I meant."
With no hope of return, Marty McFly looks to the heavens as a car pulls up behind him.

Man: "Mr. McFly?""
Marty: "Huh?"
Man: "Is your name Marty McFly?"
Marty: "...Yeah?"
Man: "I've got something for you... a letter."

Man, if only the weather were as reliable as the postal service, huh, Doc?
Anyway, he's a Western Union man. Apparently, they've had this letter for seventy years and were placing bets as to whether or not anybody would be there to pick it up.

Man: "It was given to us with the explicit instructions that it be given to a young man with your description answering to the name of 'Marty' at this exact location, at this exact minute, November 12th, 1955."

Marty signs for his letter and reads it. It's from Doc, saying that he's perfectly happy in 1885.

Marty: "He's alive! The Doc's alive! He's in the Old West, but he's alive!"

Well... not anymore, he's not. It's been 70 years.

Meanwhile, in Hill Valley, Doc has his moment of triumph fixing the cable to get Marty back to 1985.

They really like this scene.
Doc dances happily down the street as the flaming tracks burn out. But as he's about to head home...

Marty: "It's me! it's Marty!"
'55 Doc: "It can't be, I just sent you back to the future!"
Marty: "Yes, I know, I know. You did send me back to the future, but I'm back. I'm back from the future!"
Doc Brown: "Great Scott."

Doc decides to take his legs out from under his body for a bit as the words "TO BE CONCLUDED" appear, and we get a short preview of the next movie. Cowboys, gunplay, hijinks, romance... looks to be a good time.

But the question remains: Was this film a good time? Well, let's review.


  1. First off, long time reader. You're blog is great and honestly was a major influence on my own review blog. Keep it up. This Back to the Future review series has been great and I can't wait to see it concluded.

    The "Wallet Guy" was played by Wesley Mann, a character actor who only ever did minor roles but actually did the voice for Dr. Clay on the 90s Anime Tenchi Muyo.

    1. You know, your comment really means a lot to me, for many reasons.

      I know that Back to the Future isn't necessarily what people come to my blog to read about, but October 21st, 2015 only comes once in forever, you know?

      And I'm honestly quite honored that you consider me an influence on your own blog. Which I found, by the way. Good stuff, from what I've read so far. Keep it up, yourself!

  2. Thanks! You really strike a good balance between humor and information, which is what keeps me coming back here week after week. To date, your review of the Doctor Who movie is the closest I have come to watching the show (one day, when I have plenty of free time for about a month, I will finally see what all the continued fuss is about.)

    Plus, if it wasn't for you, I NEVER would have picked up on the Rocky Horror Picture Show shout out in "Emperor Joker." That's the kind of stuff I love to find out about.

    1. Good luck with whenever you should begin your journey into Doctor Who. Don't forget, I made this post ( to help people in your position.

      And once again, thanks for the support/compliments!