Universal goes back in time to repackage the Back to the Future trilogy for this nice 30th Anniversary edition of the original film and its two sequels. Actually, this is a special release to commemorate October 21, 2015, which is the day that Marty (Michael J. Fox), Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and Marty’s recast girlfriend, Jennifer (Elizabeth Shue, replacing Claudia Wells from the first film) traveled to in Back to the Future II, released in November of 1989, four long years after the original premiered in July 1985.
So, when you think about it, this special edition of the trilogy is actually a celebration of the convoluted Back to the Future II, which, besides the fun predictions about our era (Hoverboards! Flying Cars! Everyone still has fax machines!), doesn’t deserve the hoopla. The first sequel is wildly uneven and spends too much time showing off the movie tricks director Robert Zemekis came up with to have Michael J. Fox act opposite himself in the film. Add to the mix the absence of Marty’s father, George, who was central to the first movie, and Back to the Future II, proves to be wildly inferior to the original. Even my 13-year old son, who watched the trilogy for the first time this summer, had this to say. “The second one just isn’t good, dad.”
But hey, this 30th Anniversary edition contains the original, a modern classic, and it looks gorgeous on Blu-ray, plus the excellent 3rd installment, Back to the Future III. That one did the right thing by keeping the film rooted in one era, the old west. It allowed Doc Brown the chance to find true love with the local schoolteacher, Clara (the effervescent Mary Steenburgen) and has a straightforward plot that harkens back to the original.
Like the original films, Parts II and III look spectacular on Blu-ray. There’s no question that the filmmakers and the Blu-ray producers love the movies as much as fans. All three discs come with the well-curated bonus materials that have appeared on previous incarnations of the trilogy home video releases. Most prominent among those features is a 9-part retrospective from 2009. There are also commentaries, deleted scenes and music videos by Huey Lewis & the News and ZZ Top.
What’s new is a fourth disc of new bonus material. There are two all-new original shorts with Christopher Lloyd once again donning the Doc Brown garb. Both are fun. A new featurette about the restoration of the original Delorean used in the films. Plus, there are two episodes of the Back to the Future: Animated Series on the disc. That entire series has recently been released on DVD, as well. The show is, err, well, if you thought Back to the Future II was bad…
Universal could keep rolling out special edition releases every anniversary, but this one feels complete. There’s not much more you need from the Back to the Future trilogy, not even digital versions of the films. The box set comes with those, as well.