Back To The Future Part II on PAL Laserdisc

Jeremy Clarke reviews Back To The Future 2 Distributed by
Pioneer LDCE

  • PLFEB 35191
  • Cert: PG
  • Running time: 105 minutes
  • Sides: 2 (CLV)
  • Year: 1989
  • Pressing: UK, 1996
  • Chaptered: NO
  • Sound: Dolby Surround
  • Widescreen: 1.85:1
  • Price: £19.99


      Robert Zemeckis


      Michael J. Fox
      Christopher Lloyd
      Thomas F. Wilson
      Lea Thompson

If its predecessor is Zemeckis’ best to date, this sequel comes a close second. BTTF II’s not a film that should be seen before viewing part one as it builds heavily on what has gone before and makes little sense as a stand alone entity.

Opening on the Saturday in 1985, where BTTF ended, this second adventure of Marty McFly (Fox) and nutty scientist Doc Brown (Lloyd) has their Delorean travel first to 2015, then return to a drastically altered 1985 and finally back to 1955… and the very same night featured in BTTF.

Where BTTF featured various cast members playing themselves thirty years younger in 1955, this goes for broke with several stars (Fox, Wilson, Lloyd, Thompson) playing their own descendants thirty years down the line sometimes in addition to their older selves. It tops this in the 1955 segment where Fox’s McFly and Lloyd’s Doc have to avoid contact with their previously returned selves as they weave their way around the storyline of BTTF.

Michael J. Fox, for instance, is in the audience watching himself play electric guitar on stage at the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance. Such tricks – along with the characters frequently meeting one another – is accomplished by impressive use of split screen which looks as seamless on disc as it originally did in the cinema.

Beyond its indisputable place in the annals of special effects, though, the film must go down as unique among time travel movies (or, indeed, movies period) for being the only one where the protagonists actually revisit the narrative of the first film: full marks to Zemeckis’ and Gale’s clever script for pulling off the seemingly impossible.

Use of Surround here, while more polished than before, never achieves quite the heights of BTTF‘s opening clocks sequence. As in Pioneer’s BTTF LD, lack of chapters is again an irritation. A further minus is the side break coming abruptly at the end of a dialogue scene, even if this does mean the second side starts off rather well with a spaghetti Western playing on a television set. Considering the fade to black around ten minutes earlier (when Fox is knocked out) – which would have been perfect – it makes little sense that the side break occurs where it does.

Such annoyances aside, though, BTTF II looks if anything even more lovingly lensed than BTTF and is served well by LD. The medium also does wonders for characters frequently glimpsed in the distant background or far away cars flying, hovering in, or hurtling through the air.

As before, the low price tag helps a lot and we look forward to Pioneer at some stage releasing the third instalment. “That’s all in the past,” says Doc Brown. “You mean the future,” replies Marty. “Whatever,” responds Doc. Speaking of which, this also includes, on the end of side two and in the following order, trailers for Twister (1.85:1), BTTF and BTTF III (both full screen). Before that, BTTF II proper ends with taster clips from BTTF III, wherein the characters return to or are reincarnated as their ancestors in the Old West. Parts II and III were conceived and shot back to back by Zemeckis and Gale, with plenty of Old West and BTTF III references that only become evident in BTTF II in retrospect.

Finally, be warned that this is a film which divides people who like the original. (Personally I love it.) If you’ve never seen BTTF II and dislike intensely convoluted plot – which this possesses in spades – it might not be a bad idea to take a look at a friend’s copy before you buy. That said, it’s a great movie, a steal at the price and, like its predecessor, highly recommended.

Film 4/5 Picture 5/5 Sound 4/5 Review copyright © Jeremy Clarke, 1996. E-mail Jeremy Clarke

Check out Pioneer‘s Web site.

[Up to the top of this page]