GUEST: ‘Back to the Future’ is a thrilling and fun journey through time

Our Guest film reviews are a collaboration with Billy Kaskay’s Ethics and Culture in Film elective.


At one point or another, almost every kid has thought of what it would be like to go back in time to witness their parents meeting. In Back to the Future, however, 1985 teenager Marty McFly actually gets to do just that. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, this 1985 science-fiction comedy captures the light-hearted fun of determining your destiny in 116 minutes.

The film opens in 1985 Hill Valley, California, where we get a glimpse into the life of teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox). The audience sees his home life and the influence it has had on him, such as watching his father getting bullied by his old high school classmate Biff Tannen and the lack of confidence that follows. The audience hears the story of how his parents met and fell in love, and are introduced to Marty’s friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), a local eccentric scientist who has invented a time machine out of a DeLorean. In an experiment with Doc Brown and the time machine gone wrong, Marty accidentally travels back in time 30 years to 1955. In an encounter with young versions of his parents, Marty unintentionally changes history and is on a mission to set things right, helping his parents to fall in love, while facing challenges from young Biff, or else he and his siblings will cease to exist.

He must then find a way to get back to his own timeline with the help of young Doc Brown without changing any other events in history. The intensifying of the film’s theme music, the flashes of light, the sound of lightning crackling and the trail of fire left by the DeLorean as it leaves its current time all build the suspense of the event and leaves the audience wondering and waiting to see where and when the DeLorean will end up and what will happen to Marty.

The film did an astonishing job of capturing the look and feel of both the 80s and the 50s through set design, costumes and makeup. The music for each time period stayed true to its decade and provided a truly nostalgic feel for those seeing the movie today. The performances by Lea Thompson (Marty’s mother, Lorraine), Crispin Glover (Marty’s father, George) and Thomas F. Wilson (Biff Tannen) in particular stand out as amazing, with them playing older versions of themselves and younger versions of their characters, even altering their voices and overall appearance to add to the effect.

The movie easily sets up its certain laws and rules of time travel in the beginning, however those rules are not always applied when they need to be, causing some scenes to be confusing and deemed “incorrect” according to the film’s laws of time travel. While there are some other continuity issues, they are easily overlooked and the film is still enjoyable to watch. The humor used throughout the film makes the film light-hearted and fun for the whole family without it fully undermining the story and making it a full-blown comedy.

As far as time travel movies go, with its heart, humor and nostalgia, Back to the Future is destined to live on in the memories of movie-goers for years to come. The music is memorable, the concept is entertaining and it leaves audience members wondering what the future holds. This film receives an “A” rating.