Back to the Future: Part II - 9 stars out of 10
"Back to the Future: Part II" needed something completely innovative to keep up with its predecessor and managed to come up with a story that was MORE creative and MORE of a mindbender. The story has paradoxes-a-plenty as it takes place in three different time periods (and an alternate universe). Picking up where the first film left off, Doc Brown takes Marty and Jennifer into the future to save their family from ruin. What he actually does is he opens the writers up to an entire world of new creative possibilities, creating Hill Valley in the year 2015 ( and I can't wait to see if our world looks like THIS in 2015). It allows the writers to be creative in the opposite way that they were in Part I, examining the progress of mankind from 1955 to 1985 and looking 30 years into the future. Now that we have just about arrived in the year 2015, it's comical to consider what our world has actually become in the "future", but that's why this film will always be a classic. While I enjoy the flying cars, the 1980's-themed diner (which obviously is NOTHING like the 80's), and the Jaws 3D hologram advertisement, I think that the most clever creation by these writers is the hoverboard. One of the main focuses of this film is drawing parallels between the different time periods, making a statement that people throughout history do not change - just their surroundings and resources. The hoverboard chase is a great parallel to Marty's skateboarding in 1985 and the skateboard chase in 1955. Unfortunately, they go a bit too far with the parallels as the film too often tries to recreate scenes and dialogue from the first film as a comedic device. The first film was great and it's fun to throw in a few elements from the first one, but there comes a point where I am actually tired of the same dialogue or visual from the first film and want something different. That being said, the entire 1955 sequence is genius. To have the 1985 Marty from the first film and the 1985 Marty from the second film, Doc Brown from 1985 and Doc Brown from 1955, Old Biff from 2015 and Young Biff from 1955, all running around and trying not to bump into each other - it will just bend your mind as you keep all of them straight and see how their interactions change and then reset future events. The alternate universe is one of my least favorite sequences from the trilogy, but I love that they give Biff such an important role in this film. Thomas F. Wilson is really impressive playing four different versions of Biff (1955/1985/1985 alternate universe/2015) AND Griff, and I don't think that he gets enough credit for his integral part in the series (as he then plays Mad Dog in Part III, as well)! Michael J. Fox is awesome again as Marty (and Marty Jr. and Marlene McFly...), and Christopher Lloyd reprises his greatest role ever as Doc Brown. My biggest disappointment in this film is the replacement of Claudia Wells with Elizabeth Shue for the role of Jennifer. I understand that Wells couldn't do it because of a family issue, but Shue is just TERRIBLE as Jennifer! Wells was perfect as Jennifer in the first film because you can understand why Marty would want to share a sleeping bag in the back of his truck with her. But there isn't a drop of chemistry between Fox and Shue and it really does drag the first half of the film down. Thank goodness they dropped her from the plot in the 1985 alternate universe. There are a few things that fall short of the first film, but many creative aspects that make this film a worthy sequel and definitely the second-best film in the series. The insertion of this new story into the 1955 events from the first film is genius and reason enough to see the sequel, on top of great comedic acting and a unique time-traveling story.