Back to the Future Part II (1989)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Back to the Future Part II</strong> (1989)

(Second viewing, On DVD, May 2009) No mere follow-up could recapture the magic of the original, and while this sequel often has moments of interest, it ultimately makes the mistake of hugging its predecessor a bit too closely. The first half takes a welcome trip in the future, even though the situation it develops never completely lives up to the promise left by the last moments of the original film. A more interesting trip through a hellish alternate reality follows, but then the film sticks itself back in familiar territory by going back to the first film. While the concept is promising and rich in irony, the ultimate result seems self-referential to an unhealthy degree: at some point, the film cries out for an escape to someplace new. One thing is sure: this film hasn’t aged nearly as well as the first one. The vision of 2015 may be increasingly ridiculous (a minor sin in a comedy), but a lot of the concepts that seemed challenging or new in 1989 are now part of the assumed background of even unsophisticated SF viewers: Alternate realities are now mainstream, and the circumlocutions of time-travel have been explored many times since then –the various 1955 twists of the film now bring to mind Futurama’s overloaded time-travel storyline. Still, as a piece of self-conscious blockbuster movie-making, Back to the Future II takes a few more chances than strictly necessary and manages to deliver an experience that extends the original. A few good moments complete the film with style.

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