Thursday 28 December 2017

Movie Review: Back To The Future Part III (1990)

The final chapter in the time travel Back To The Future trilogy, Part III settles down to a wild west comedy adventure with a bonus romance, and conjures up a richly satisfying conclusion.

The film opens in 1955, with teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) reconnecting with eccentric inventor Doc (Christopher Lloyd) after receiving a telegram sent by Doc from 1885, where he was accidentally sent by lighting at the end of Part II. Marty and Doc unearth the DeLorean time travel machine, as well as information that suggests the 1885 Doc is in imminent danger of being killed by the outlaw Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson).

Marty travels back to 1885, meets his ancestors Maggie and Seamus (Lea Thompson and Fox) and finds Doc established as a blacksmith. Doc saves the life of newly arrived teacher Clara Clayton (Mary Steenburgen), and they immediately fall in love. Meanwhile Mad Dog is threatening Doc's life due to a dispute over $80. With the DeLorean's fuel system damaged, Doc and Marty have to improvise a method to use steam engine power to travel back to the future, while Marty has to negate Mad Dog's threat and Doc has to decide whether to pursue an impossible love-across-time with Clara.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Part III pulls the trilogy together after the wayward Part II, and tidies up the story into a neat package. The final chapter benefits from the introduction of the series' first romantic subplot, with Doc finding his soulmate in 1885. Clara loves science and the imaginative books of Jules Verne just as much as Doc does, and she forces Doc to think, for the first time, about his own personal fate and the implications of all the time traveling on his happiness.

Another plus is Part III's focus on one time period. Just as the original invested its energy in 1955, Part III settles down in 1885, and is able to breathe deeply from the wild west origins of Hill Valley. The clock tower building is under construction, the town features the usual tensions between rough outlaw elements and settlers, and Marty adopts the name and ultimately cool persona of Clint Eastwood to navigate his way through the local conflicts. Combining steam engine technology with the DeLorean to cobble together enough speed for the requisite return to the future provides another worthy scientific challenge for Doc to overcome.

On a thematic level, Part III also resolves Marty's character arcs. The dangling threads related to his future are tied up with an evolved understanding of how to interact with lamebrained idiots, while despite all the time traveling, Doc raises Marty's awareness about the real beauty of the future.

Christopher Lloyd delivers likely his best performance in the series, and almost steals the movie entirely. His interaction with Michael J. Fox remains smooth, but Part III is more Doc's movie than Marty's. Mary Steenburgen finally provides a substantive female counterweight, while Lea Thompson has some fun opposite Fox in representing Marty's immigrant ancestors. Thomas F. Wilson spreads his wings and evolves the abrasive Biff persona to the wild west, where the boorish behaviour ironically fits better.

While the originality of the first chapter can never be matched, Back To The Future Part III provides rewarding closure to a lovable trilogy.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.