Thursday, March 04, 2010
“I'm your density. I mean... your destiny.”
Oh God. I mean, Zardoz was just…wow. Look, I knew the risks going in, but you guys weren’t ready for this. I need to make it up to you guys before I go on an extended hiatus because of learnin’ obligations. Something from the 1980s should do nicely. Something ambitious. Something that just gleams with the bright glow of ADVENTURE!
Something where you don’t need money, don’t need fame, don’t need a credit card to ride this train.
Something like 1985’s Back To The Future!
You should know this already. BUT, for those unenlightened in the audience, here’s how it goes. An American teenager in the 1980s hangs out with a mad scientist who invents a time machine and installs it in a DeLorean. Because. While testing the machine, the scientist gets gunned down by vindictive Libyans and our Hero escapes in time to 1955 and gets stuck there. He teams up with the younger 1955 mad scientist and accidentally runs into his parents as teenagers, sort of triggering a time paradox that starts wiping his siblings (and eventually himself) from existence, so he has to make sure that his future mom & dad get together at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance so he can survive long enough for lightning to strike the town clock tower so he can get back to the future (DUN DUN DUN!) and return to his normal life. Standard stuff, really.
Marty McFly: Michael J. Fox in his most iconic role (even more so than Teen Wolf). He’s an everyman kind of hero, and its honestly refreshing seeing McFly as a well-adjusted, normal kid in High School who’s only family issues are that his parents are kind of lame. No orphans, no broken home, no clichéd social cripple situation for him. He’s also fairly competent when it comes to fixing the problem he created, and arguably, he’s pretty badass in this.
Dr. Emmet Brown: Christopher Lloyd plays things up big time as the friendly neighborhood mad scientist who’s invented a Flux Capacitor for time travel and installed it in a car. He’s pretty much the same in either time period, which adds to the charm of it.
Lorraine Baines McFly: Lea Thompson is Marty’s mom. Under a ton of frumpy makeup for 80’s mom, she’s herself as 50’s Lorraine, and to Marty’s unintentionally Oedipal surprise, extremely frisky.
George McFly: Crispin Glover is Marty’s dorky dad. When Marty gets to ‘55, George is revealed as, well, a shy, dorky sci-fi nut, and its Marty’s job to make sure he gets the girl.
Biff Tannen: Thomas F. Wilson is pretty much the perfect 80’s movie villain. Both 80’s and 50’s versions are just a gigantic meat headed assholes with a habit of mangling metaphors. Comical, but also dangerous enough to be taken semi-seriously. He’s also got henchmen, including one who wears 3-D glasses all the time and Billy Zane as another. Awesome.
Robert Zemeckis in charge and Dean Cundey handled cinematography, and the two of them make the film an awesome looking event. The effects are astounding, the pacing is tense without becoming overbearing, and everything just clicks nicely.
Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale take a fairly complicated plot and keep it light and moving without it seeming too derivative of anything else out there. Dialog is great and the whole movie refuses to take itself too seriously while avoiding winking at the audience all of the time.
The movie wouldn’t be half as awesome without Alan Silvestri’s absolutely EPIC score. The main fanfare just blows your hair back, and the big, sweeping flourishes throughout the movie completely sell the action. Think of the climactic clock tower scene. Wouldn’t be nearly as tense without the music treating it like the most important thing in the world.
There’s also some other songs, like a little bit of Chuck Berry and Huey Lewis (who also makes a cameo appearance as some school official in the 80s period) provided the official “Theme Song” for the movie.
In a lot of ways, Back To The Future is a quintessential 80’s Adventure! movie. An original concept married to ambitious visuals and delivered with shameless enthusiasm. The end result just pulses with a certain power.
And that’s the Power of Love!