The Great Movie Re-Watch
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
Michael J. Fox
Thomas F. Wilson
Stranded in 1955, Marty McFly learns about the death of Doc Brown in 1885 and must travel back in time to save him. With no fuel readily available for the DeLorean, the two must figure how to escape the Old West before Emmett is murdered.
What would have happened if Marty killed Mad Dog? I’m sure Doc Brown would say the universe would cease to exist, but maybe it wouldn’t. No Biff would be a positive for everyone. Would Marty’s parents still get together, though? Maybe Mad Dog already had his kid, and it didn’t matter. Perhaps the loss of Marty and his siblings is worth the loss of the Tannen line. I guess we’ll never know.
Marty continues to be stupid in this movie, but I didn’t feel like it was more than the other movies. It might have been less, actually. He did learn a lesson, in the end, taught by his ginger ancestor. It took me a second to wrap my head around his great-whatever-grandparents. Seeing his mom married to him was weird for a bit until I worked out the genetics of it all.
Many of the set pieces and story in Back to the Future Part III are callbacks to the previous movies. Some of that is using what you’ve learned about Marty to show how he could live in the old west. Too much of it, though, was lazy storytelling. I like the previous movies, and I don’t dislike the third. I just wish the story had been something different. Getting stuck back in time, again, and dealing with changing their personal history, again, along with all the other little things, was too much fan service for me.
Doc’s relationship with Clara is one of the few new things, and I thought it was sweet. She wasn’t set aside and ignored. She was a big part of the story. Another change from previous movies. Her role mattered. I liked that. Plus, Mary Steenburgen is a great actress and beautiful woman. There’s a fifteen-year difference between the actors, but at the time, she was thirty-seven, so that’s old enough not to bother me.
I’d say Back to the Future Part III is my second favorite of the franchise. I like the first movie because it set up this great franchise, but I prefer the future setting of the second one. So my order would go two, three, one.
They aren’t going to remake this series, Zemeckis has basically said over his dead body. I’m fine with that, but I wish there could be something like it made. Maybe with a minority in the lead because that would certainly make travel to the past more interesting. Also, more women, please.