We've seen the past, the present and the future; now, in the third and final Back to the Future film, director Robert Zemeckis transports us back in time further than ever before to 1885 and the Old gun-slinging West. Here are my thoughts on the concluding chapter of this iconic cinema series.
Back to the Future II ends with an excellent cliffhanger - having reset the present (again), the Doc and Marty are preparing to return to 1985 when, out of nowhere, the Doc and the DeLorean are zapped back in time to 1885. By this point there are multiple versions of the DeLorean dotted around 1955 and, aided by information 1885 Doc has given him in a letter, Marty is able to travel back in time to rescue Doc from the past.
For example, the series returns to this idea of Marty reacting negatively to being called 'chicken', and is goaded into fights by numerous generations of the Tanner family. It's funny at first, but the joke wears thin eventually. However, it does come back around and tie in with the rest of the series at the end - Marty refuses to street race with Needles and avoids the car crash that would consequently cause him to lose his job in 2015. It's obscure, but does show how tightly these films are written. The hoverboard makes a return in the climax of this film too, having been a key part of the second movie - it's the little details like this (and hundreds of others) that make this film worth revisiting. Even now, I'm discovering new things that I'd never seen before.
One positive for this third film is that it does have a much clearer three act structure than the preceding one. Where Part II is loopy and complicated, Part III returns to the simple premise of the Doc and Marty finding a way to return to 1985 using technology they have on hand in that time period. Unable to rely on lightning to power their car, the Doc and Marty devise a plan where they propel the car up to 88 miles an hour using a steam locomotive - and onto a bridge that isn't built yet, but will be when the car reappears in 1985. It's clever because the characters (and the audience) are made to think in four dimensions, and the scene at the drive-in cinema introduces this concept really well.
Another element that works really well is the love story between Clara and the Doc - it's a great idea to give Christopher Lloyd's character a happy ending, even if their courtship is a bit rushed (less than a week and he's ready to give up everything? This kind of stuff only ever happens in movies). Anyway, Clara (Mary Steenburgen) is a great addition to the cast and the perfect partner for the eccentric Doc. The ending does feel like it jumps the ship a little - Zemeckis takes a lot of liberties with Doc's steampunk locomotive time machine - but the series still ends on a high note where everything that matters, ties together in a neat little bow.
On the other hand, the less said about Doc's creepy youngest son, the better (seriously, what is that kid doing with his hand in that final scene?!)
The Verdict: 6/10
Thanks for reading my series of Back to the Future reviews this week - I'd love to hear your thoughts on this final film, and on the series as a whole. Be sure to leave me a comment down below!