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robert zemeckis

Just when it looked like we had lost Bob Zemeckis to performance capture forever, he allowed himself to be sucked back into “conventional” film-making with Flight, an undoubtedly impressive return to live action, with Denzel Washington scooping up another Oscar nomination as the compromised pilot who manages to land a stricken aeroplane despite flying three sheets to the wind.

Flight is out now on DVD and in honour of Zemeckis’ excellent resumé, we offer a consideration of some of his finest work as a Director, starting with the film (and franchise) that made his name.

 Back-to-the-Future-1

1. Back To The Future

Goodness me, if ever there were a film that has entered the collective consciousness, this is it.

Even if you haven’t seen it (and surely everyone has?) you’d be familiar with “1.21 gigawatts”, “Great Scott!”, the Flux Capacitor and cinema’s most memorable rendition of Johnny B. Goode. Along with The Goonies, love for this film pretty much formed the cornerstone for HeyUGuys at its inception and rightly so.

A sci-fi adventure that doesn’t get bogged down in (but also doesn’t cheat on) the predictable time-travel paradoxes, as much fun as this is, it also has some meat to it. Marty’s Oedipal nightmare, the genuine risk of him inadvertently eradicating himself from history, the nail-biting tension of getting to the right place at the right time to propel himself back to the future – it doesn’t seem to matter how many times you watch this, it remains fresh, thrilling, funny and moving. The riffs on Star Trek, Star Wars and changes in vernacular (“can I have a Pepsi Free?” “you want a Pepsi pal – you gonna pay for it”) are intelligent, affectionate and manage to not leave the film feeling dated, despite the 1950’s (and 1980’s) trappings.

Zemeckis deserves heaps of credit, serving not just as director but also working with Bob Gale on the script. The pacing, performances and tone are all absolutely perfect, as you would expect from such an enduring film and decisions to go with a DeLorean (rather than a fridge) and Michael J. Fox (over Eric Stolz) have made such a difference too.

I have loved this since I first watched it and despite my kids having this and countless other films on DVD, we always watch it when we find it on TV at the weekend. This is pretty much the perfect film and the enduring foundation of what would go on to become one of the strongest film trilogies in all of cinema.

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Dave has been writing for HeyUGuys since mid-2010 and has found them to be the most intelligent, friendly, erudite and insightful bunch of film fans you could hope to work with. He's gone from ham-fisted attempts at writing the news to interviewing Lawrence Bender, Renny Harlin and Julian Glover, to writing articles about things he loves that people have actually read. He has fairly broad tastes as far as films are concerned, though given the choice he's likely to go for Con Air over Battleship Potemkin most days. He's pretty sure that 2001: A Space Odyssey is the most overrated mess in cinematic history.