After the 4 year break between the first and second Back to the Future films, the 7 month long wait for the last must have seemed like a breeze.
With the McFly family timeline safe and Hill Valley returned to its original serenity, all is still not well, with Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) trapped in the year 1885. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) must one more time make a trip to a time long since past.
My personal favourite of the trilogy, Back to the Future Part III is a much lighter entry in the series (especially compared to Back to the Future Part II and much closer in tone to the first film. Part III tackles the Wild West setting with far more whimsy than other more cinematic takes, but underlines the series sense of fun, and ends on a high note.
And it's a good thing that it did, with a story arc that made sense and knew when it was time to finish. Long after the time frame of Back to the Future Part II becomes an eventuation, the quality of the film artistically and technically will hold it in good stead, and will always be a classic of the science fiction genre. I'm glad that the series has been immortalised well on Blu-ray disc.
Back to the Future Part III is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with AVC MPEG-4 compression (unlike the other two films which use VC-1).
Back to the Future Part III features arguably the best transfer of the three films, despite it also having a few flaws. The main problem again is digital noise reduction (DNR) which at a few times during the course of the film becomes a little obvious. It's a bit of a shame because otherwise this is a pretty good transfer.
It's reasonably sharp most of the time, with good colour balance and tonal qualities. Occasionally skin tones seem a bit overly saturated, but this could be a bit of an artistic decision. I strongly suspect that for the most part, this is the best job that could be done with the films other than giving them the full Lowry digital scrub.
Overall, a pretty fine transfer despite some minor flaws.
The main audio track is encoded in lossless DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, at 24 bits.
It seems that once more Universal's mixers have gone back to the drawing board and fleshed out the previous audio restoration with an even more involving track. As all three films feature a divergent setting, audio mixers have different arenas and different effects to use, and these scrub up pretty well.
The films climax features a pretty stunning audio accompaniment which utilises the surround channels extensively. As with the other films, issues are few and far between, and the only qualms I would have are with some slightly dated fidelity which cannot be helped, save for re-recording all the audio.
Bass usage is generally rather high, and is used to support many of the more dramatic sequences and music, including the climactic train sequence.
For the last time, the score is provided again by Alan Silvestri and is flourished with the memorable audio cues and theme song that we all know and love.
Again, I highly doubt the work done here will ever be bettered. Realistically I think we'll see the whole series remade before that happens.
The Blu-ray debut of Back to the Future Part III 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 and second Blu-ray, so let's jump in.
First up is the final filmmaker's commentary provided by producer Bob Gale and co-producer Neil Canton. The comments here are just as good as for the previous two films, even if there is still quite a bit of overlap between the featurettes we'll discuss later. The last Q and A commentary provided by Director Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale was 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 for the previous two discs. 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 thirdBack to the Future disc features the final sections Third Times the Charm which looks at the story arc of the final film and The Test of Time which discusses how 25 years on the trilogy holds an important social and historic standing. Back to the Future: The Ride features the entirety of footage that was part of the now defunct theme park attraction at Universal Studios in Orlando, California and is a nice bit of history.
Only one Deleted Scene is featured, but its deletion is particularly apt since it would have brought the whole tone of the film down.
Next up are a few smaller featurettes which are hangovers from previous DVD releases; Making the Trilogy: Chapter Three covers similar ground to the new documentary and is now fairly superfluous. The Making of Back to the Future Part III is the original electronic press kit and fairly quaint by todays marketing standards. The Secrets of the Back to the Future Trilogy is a Kirk Cameron (remember him?) hosted TV special which aired at the same time Back to the Future Part III was released to cinemas.
A few odds and ends are rounded up in the final section, including the debatable quality of the ZZ Top Double Back Music video, some mildly comical outtakes, two smaller featurettes on Designing the town of Hill Valley and Designing the Campaign which takes a closer look at the marketing of the film, and a random collection of Storyboards, Behind the scenes photos and Marketing materials.
Finally, we have the original Theatrical Teaser Trailer in very basic, standard definition quality.