Four years after the great success of the first Back to the Future film, Director Robert Zemeckis released the first of the two sequels, imaginatively titled Back to the Future Part II.
After Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) right the timeline by travelling to the 1955 past in the first film, Back To The Future Part II starts immediately and sees the duo (including Marty's girlfriend Jennifer) leap forward to the future of 2015 where the McFly family has gone off the rails and members are incarcerated in prison.
A throwaway line provided at the end of the first Back to the Future provides the basis of the plot for Back to the Future Part II ("It's your kids, Marty! Something's gotta be done about your kids!", but make no mistake; this trip is far darker than its predecessor and serves as a bleak middle part to the generally wide eyed franchise, in a similar vein to The Empire Strikes Back was to Star Wars.
Robert Zemeckis pioneered a few production tricks during the filming, including the notion of filming two concurrent sequels to keep productions costs lowered and using motion control technology to have the same actors interact with each other.
As we approach the timeframe of the film and realise that many of the technologies were a little overly optimistic (hover cars, self frying suits, self tying shoes, and most importantly; Hasbro hover boards), Back to the Future Part II will remain a tongue in cheek, slightly problematic, but highly enjoyable entry in an otherwise exemplary film trilogy.
Back to the Future Part II is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with VC-1 compression.
Back To The Future Part II fares a little better in the transfer stakes than its predecessor, coming from 4 year younger elements and a move away from the mid 80's grainy Kodak film stock. Due to the utilization of bright and bold plastic colours of the future sets and props, colours seem significantly improved over the first film, but in reality they are just as good. Film artifacts are pretty rare.
Unfortunately some minor usage of noise reduction does at times become excessive, but overall its usage is kept to minor levels. The sharpness of the transfer sometimes reveals dodgy makeup usage, and this should not be confused with waxiness from noise reduction.
Overall, a pretty fine transfer and another reason to turf the old DVD.
The main audio track is encoded in lossless DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, at 24 bits.
Improving on the new 5.1 mix which was created for the previous DVD release, it seems that Universal mixers have gone back to the source to create a slightly more aggressive mix. Some of the sound effects are a little low fidelity, but this is improved over the first film. The surround mix seems slightly more, for want of a better word, more 'natural' than the first, no doubt due to increases in technology between the first and second films.
Bass usage is generally very good and responds fairly punchily when called upon.
The score once again provided by Alan Silvestri is spectacular and uses many of the same audio cues as the first film, and the main theme is as rousing as ever.
Again, this is likely the best that Back to the Future Part II will ever sound, so enjoy.
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The Blu-ray debut of Back to the Future rounds up the vast majority of extra features from previous DVD releases, and includes a few new ones. Many of the extra features follow the same format as established by the first Blu-ray, so let's jump in.
First up is the filmmaker's commentary provided by producer Bob Gale and co-producer Neil Canton. I really enjoy Gales contributions even if there is a lot of overlap between his comments here and in the featurettes in which he features prominently. The Q and A commentary provided by Director Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale were recorded live after a showing of the movie with film students from USC. Due to editing, these don't quite extend the full length of the feature film, but impart a lot of useful detail.
Next up are the requisite Universal U-control features, in exactly the same manner as before. Three tracks are provided for all three movies; one Picture in Picture storyboard track which compares the storyboards to the finished film, a Set-ups and Pay-offs which alerts less eagle eyed viewers into some of the subtle and not so subtle moments in the film which may be important later on, and finally a Trivia Track; I always enjoy text based trivia tracks and this was no exception, although I did have issue with the rather small font even on a large display.
The newly produced Tales from the Future documentary equates to around two hours of content, but it's cut up into small sections and divided over the three discs. The second Back to the Future disc features the section Time Flies which features an inordinate amount of time extended to the visual effects, which due to the films vintage, were produced optically rather than digitally. New to Blu-ray is the Physics of Back to the Future with Dr Michio Kaku featurette which discusses the real world science and where the films get it right, and where they get it wrong.
The section of Deleted Scenes are presented in fairly scratchy, but high definition resolution. Most scenes were fairly cut, but I did enjoy seeing the 'Burned out school' scene which underscores just how bad Hill Valley had gotten.
Next up are a few smaller featurettes which are hangovers from previous DVD releases; Making the Trilogy: Chapter Two covers similar ground to the new documentary and is now fairly superfluous. The Making of Back to the Future Part II is an ancient electronic press kit, and arguably more useless than when it was first created 20 years ago.
A few odds and ends are rounded up in the final behind the scenes section, including featurettes on Production design, Designing the DeLorean, Designing time travel, Hoverboard test, Evolution of Visual Effects Shots, some mildly comical outtakes and a random collection of Storyboards and Behind the scenes photos.
Finally, we have the original Theatrical Trailer in very basic, standard definition quality.