2. Back To The Future Pt III
At this point we will leap-frog over Part II and proceed to the trilogy-concluding finale. It’s not that Part II is bad, it is just the least impressive segment of the series. It has good, strong ideas and if the back and forth gets a little convoluted, at least it maintains narrative coherence.
Part III is a thing of beauty though. Not only does it wrap the franchise up rather nicely, it also manages to blend sci-fi with an excellent and convincing Western milieu. Just ask Jon Favreau how hard that is to balance. Buford Tannen, Clara and of course Doc Brown and Marty are all supremely good value for money and Zemeckis populates the burgeoning frontier town of Hill Valley with well-worn extras from a lifetime of Western films.
By slotting in a reference to Leone’s spaghetti westerns, keeping the peril real but light and linking everything back to that clock tower, Zemeckis gives us a very different film from the other two entries in the canon, but still something that feels organically part of the whole. Marty’s near hanging, the 8:00am shoot-out, Tannen being an imbecile but no less dangerous for it, the brilliant idea of a train track that runs out just as they hit 88mph – there are loads of great beats here that give almost as strong a rewind factor as the original.
Marty realising the need to not let himself be foolishly provoked proves to be as much a part of the series arc as being careful what you change in the past and of course we all now know not to let your petrol tank get punctured by arrows and to avoid hovering in a time machine during a lightning storm.
Still fresh, still funny, still poignant and affecting in all the right places.