Classic Movie Review: BACK TO THE FUTURE PART III (1990) – Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd – “Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one”
Back to the Future Part 3 marks the finale of the BTTF trilogy and takes the series out on a high despite not managing to live up to its two predecessors. This time around, the Delorean has taken Marty and Doc way back to the year 1885 where the film decides to spend all of its time. Going back to sticking to one time period was what needed to be done after they spent the entire second film jumping around the past, present and future. The choosing of the Old West (as was hinted at in BTTFII) was an interesting one and definitely felt very different from the last two films, and i guess Zemeckis was forced to take this route in order to not be rehashing the exact same thing. We had already been to 1955 twice and been to 2015, so the only way to make a third film without being too overly repetitive was to go way back to 1885.
I enjoyed seeing the 1885 setting, seeing how Hill Valley looked way back then, and seeing the history of the famous McFlys and Tannens was pretty cool. But you quickly realise that there really isn’t much new you can do in 1885 that hasn’t been done countless other times in Westerns or in the other films. And that led the film makers to fill Marty’s time in 1885 with countless callbacks to the previous films, some very subtle and some extremely obvious. A lot of this film was spent making those comical callbacks and trying to recreate scenes from the previous films, and they were some of the most entertaining moments of the film but the repetitiveness of these moments starts to kinda show, especially after you watch the films back to back to back. But i would much rather the film accept that it isn’t much different and make that as obvious as it can as oppose to try to be something completely different when it isn’t. One thing that returned that no-one can complain about is the zany, crazy humour that Doc has brought to the series from the very beginning. As with the other films, seeing Doc and Marty back together trying to solve a new problem was great, they are always fun to watch and no matter how many BTTF films they made, these two would have always remained just as funny and entertaining.
This film introduces a new main character for the first time in the series really, the previous films have stuck to the same characters in different time periods but here, Clara Clayton factors fairly majorly into the plot. You quickly find out that the main reason she was put in the film was really so that she could serve as a love interest for Doc, but the character also added something new that the other films didn’t have. Until this point, the Doc had only really been this crazy scientist and this was his character in both the previous films, but by adding Clara into the mix it allowed the film to add another layer to Doc’s character. It allows the film to at times focus on Doc for a little and give him what he deserves after the amount of time he spent helping out Marty get his future right. Some of these romantic scenes prove more of a hinderance to the overall plot but it all pays off in the end. Again i loved seeing the attention to detail and still managing to connect back to very subtle details in the previous films. A couple of my favourites were the subtle renaming of Clayton Ravine and also the many callback to ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ seen in this film and also BTTFII.
Lastly, this film did what countless other films struggle to do, it is one of the hardest tasks for any final film to do, especially for a film series this incredible. And it is; How do you close out a series in a way that honours all characters and makes sense to the plot and pleases all fans? Well, just ask Robert Zemeckis, because this may be the best or one of the best endings to a trilogy of films ever, everything was perfectly executed.
Obviously, spoilers for the ending here… By returning to 1985 and seeing that Marty’s life is back to normal, everyone is happy, he has his car, and Jennifer is there it was so satisfying to see that all of their hard work had paid off. The decision to destroy the Delorean was great, during the entire series, all problems were caused from the existence of that time machine, and it was made clear that the only way to make sure nothing bad ever happened was to destroy it. So although seeing the iconic time machine being destroyed was heartbreaking, when you understand why, it makes so much sense. Also i loved the way they completely tied up that one loose end that BTTFII introduced that was never really explained. In BTTFII and also in this film you hear about this ‘accident’ that ruined Marty’s life and led to him missing out on his music career and getting fired in 2015. But when you think back, they never actually stopped that event, so theoretically Marty should still grow up to where he gets fired in 2015. But GUESS AGAIN, because right at the end Needles shows up and tries to drag race Marty by calling him Chicken. Due to some wise words by Seamus in 1885 Marty decides not to race Needles and it turns out that if he did, he would have had an accident that would have resulted in him injuring his hand and thus, never playing music again. This was a great little detail that i loved seeing the film address.
But you can’t end Back to the Future without saying a final goodbye to the Iconic Dr. Emmett Brown. And wow did they handle his farewell amazingly. Having him show up in a brand new time machine was great and fit with his character in that time travel is part of his life now and in his now experienced hands it is safe. Seeing him have a family was a nice finishing touch to his character, to see him finally get a happy ending was great. And he exits with a great quote to tie up the whole series.