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Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy (Blu-ray Review)

22 Oct, 2010 By: John Latchem

Street 10/26/10
$49.98 DVD, $79.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG.’
Stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Thomas F. Wilson, Crispin Glover, Elisabeth Shue, Mary Steenburgen.

Great Scott! The Back to the Future Trilogy Blu-ray offers enough great stuff to generate 1.21 gigawatts of excitement for the franchise’s fans.

This new set is a must-have upgrade from the DVDs, containing practically all the extras from the earlier releases, with the exception of the “Looking Back to the Future” retrospective from the early 2009 special edition DVD. It has been replaced by the terrific six-part “Tales From the Future,” which covers practically every aspect of making all three films.

Included within the documentary is the first publicly released footage of Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly. It’s only three short clips without sound, but it’s interesting stuff. One can tell just from his body language his performance was much too conventional to fit the mood of a film like this. Indeed, director Robert Zemeckis didn’t think he had the comic sensibilities to match what was written into the script, so he was replaced by the filmmakers’ first choice, Michael J. Fox, who couldn’t take the part originally due to his commitment to “Family Ties.”

The choice was fortuitous, as Fox’s performance delivers a perfect balance of manic comic energy that makes the role so memorable. However, seeing the Stoltz footage is like glimpsing into an alternate reality not unlike one created by the time-meddling characters of the films.

The first film is of course an all-time classic, while the sequels are fun follow-ups that adequately continue the adventure despite trying too hard re-create the magic of the original. But all three look great in high-definition, even if the visual effects look a little dated.

Speaking of casting changes, the most notable is the rift in the space-time continuum that turned Marty’s girlfriend Jennifer into Elisabeth Shue. The original Jennifer, Claudia Wells, is interviewed in the new retrospective and discusses dropping out of the sequels to care for her ailing mother.

It’s especially interesting to see Lea Thompson, who is older now than she was trying to play in the 1985 scenes. It goes without saying that her natural progression she looks so much better than what the make-up artists envisioned.

There are plenty of other great extras too, including the storyboards of the original ending of the first film (which was deemed too expensive), which involved driving the DeLorean into a nuclear explosion to send it into the future. This section is presented like a motion comic, which makes it more watchable than the usual storyboard bonus materials included on most other DVDs.

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