Tag Archives: Back to the Future

Booked to the Future

2015, okay so the self-lacing trainers aren’t with us yet, nor is Jaws 19 or those shocking pink hoverboards, but this year doesn’t just mark the year that Back to the Future Part 2 ‘happens’ it also marks the 30th anniversary of the original. Talk about heavy!

bttf_einstein_019It doesn’t seem five minutes, never mind five years since we were celebrating 25 years of the original Robert Zemeckis classic, yet here we are. What was great then was that I was able to complete my original quad cinema movie poster collection with the re-release poster joining the original release Parts 2 and 3 posters which, like the films themselves, neatly riffed on the iconic original.

The 25th anniversary also saw the film head back into cinemas for a limited time, all cleaned up and looking amazing on the big screen, I’d missed it during its original run and caught it for the first time when it premiered on TV at Christmas and from the wall of ticking clocks was hooked.

marty-mcfly-johnny-b-goodeSeeing it on the big screen after so many years of it on the small screen was a complete revelation and you really haven’t seen films like Back to the Future until you’ve seen them on the big screen, read my original 25th anniversary Back to the Future review here, but for the 30th anniversary we are going back…back to an even bigger experience.

This time we are heading to the Royal Albert Hall for a screening with a live orchestra playing the fantastically rousing Alan Silvestri score as the film unfolds, merging performance and cinema, and for me, delivering a far more vivid experience than the likes of the secret cinema offerings last year.

The Royal Albert Hall experience is part of a wider cinematic music bill, which also sees the venue play host to live performances and screenings of The Godfather, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Titanic, the latter conducted by composer James Horner.

20130306-005558It will be our first time to the Royal Albert Hall, which will be amazing in itself but the real treat will be when on that screen we see the vastness of space give way to the rotating Universal globe as Steven Spielberg presents a Robert Zemeckis film…and the ticking clocks begin as we await the conductor’s  baton to be raised.

The ghost of Christmas Radio Times past

Walking through the doors of Tesco ,there it was, the Christmas double edition of the Radio Times.

My heart momentarily skipped a beat, it’s like my annual willy wonka golden ticket. I approached it like Indiana Jones does with the golden idol at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark…although there was no boulder (which reminds me if that old Chocolate Orange advert) or Paul Freeman waiting outside the store to swipe it from my grasp.

Santa has made a welcome return to the cover this year, pleasingly along with the Snowdog. And we all love the Snowdog.

Once the cover is opened it the usual regime of a quick flick through and annoyance at the hefty holiday section smack bang in the middle of the films section (this year it sits right in the middle of Christmas Day).

Then after that initial reconasence it’s out with the highlighters and pens ticking off everything that looks interesting…worrying about clashes later (back in the day it was of course timing issues with setting up the video recorder – one year I even remember biking it up to my Nana’s to set the tape going for something.

Film wise, there’s usually the film noir season or the Hitchcock season at ungodly hours, this year it seems to be the turn of some Hammer horror films.

Of course it all used to be so different, we’d probably not seen the big Christmas Day film and a movie premiere back then really meant something, after all we’d not already bought it or seen it on Sky etc.

If memory serves ITV premiered The Empire Strikes Back one year with the BBC headlining Back To The Future, we taped one and watched the other on the ‘portable’ (it weighed a ton) upstairs.

Of course the other thing that is different now is that you used to have to buy both the festive edition of the Radio Times and the TV Times, which would mean me being splayed out on the floor comparing and contrasting the two publications taking careful note of the dreaded programmes overlapping one another…crucial if you were setting it going a few minutes before.

This is what makes looking back at old VHS recordings such a thrill, it’s like a time warp and means that the interesting thing isn’t necerarly the original programme you tape but the end of the weather with Michael Fish et al you’ve just caught or the really dated sales/holiday adverts ITV.

Having said that you don’t miss the dash to open the plastic of a new video tape…only to find another layer to open, as I race against the spinning globe of BBC 1 and the continuity announcer as he introduces the TV programme or film I was looking at taping.

Still, this year much of the fun is in the reminiscent marking of the Radio Times as we probably won’t get time to catch up on half of what we have marked up for recording. No matter, the fun is still there in creating that initial televisual wish list.

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Guitar Heroine

Chuck! Chuck, it's Marvin. Your cousin, Marvin Berry. You know that new sound you're looking for? Well, listen to this!
Chuck! Chuck, it’s Marvin. Your cousin, Marvin Berry. You know that new sound you’re looking for? Well, listen to this!

Isabelle has always had a fascination with the Guitar Hero guitar that she often spies poking its head out from behind the sofa, so she jumped at the chance of slinking it round her neck and having a bit of an impromptu jamming session of sorts.She may not be quite up there with the likes of Slash or Brian May but she certainly had some of the stances right.

I did play here my own rendition, which admittedly owed more to Bill and Ted than anything. Iz looked at me a bit bewildered. I told her, Back to the Future style, that she just wasn’t ready for it yet but that her kids would love it!

dfensNext thing you know she’ll be on the tour bus, through TVs out of hotel windows and biting the heads off bats. I’m not sure where she would get such ideas from?

Stars in Their Iz: Marty McFly

Or should that be Martine McFly? Iz has been pretty much insperable from from new Peppa Pig sunglasses since Grandma and Grandad bought them last week.

Here we see her adopting the raised sunglasses Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) pose as seen in the poster to Back to the Future.

If only she was wearing her denim jacket!

To quote Doc Brown, frantically looking at his watch. “Damn, where Iz that kid?!

Gremlins

To describe Gremlins as a kid’s film would be like describing the Bates Motel as a swell place to stay.

Cutesy in a typical Spielbergian world at the very beginning, sure, but it is soon revealed that we, the audience, and indeed the Peltzer family are sorely mistaken and have somewhat misread the situation in the ultimate ‘always heed the instructions’ moment in cinematic history

An animal is for life, not just for Christmas, such is the number one life lesson that we can all learn from the Spielberg Executive Produced, Joe Dante Directed, Gremlins. Rounding out this trio of talent is then scriptwriter – later Harry Potter Director, Chris Columbus – who was on something of a roll after penning scripts for both The Goonies and Young Sherlock Holmes around the same period. This ‘E.T. with teeth’ captivated and entertained and still stands tall as a comedy horror Christmas classic, and you don’t get many of those.

Originally a spec script by the young Columbus the feature was set to be a very different ‘beast’ with the Gremlins being even more dark and twisted, with the irresistibly cute Gizmo turning into Stripe, Barney the dog getting hung and Billy’s mum’s head rolling down the stairs!

Being a Joe Dante film it is a veritable reference of film and cartoon delights, from a cameo by the legendary animator Chuck Jones to a blink and you’ll miss it Steven Spielberg disappearing in a Time Machine

It’s a deliciously wicked and rich film, even until this day and has an almost timeless charm about it like that other 8o’s classic Back to the Future, which also shared the Universal backlot as its main set that created the town, Kingston Falls, and it does so spectacularly.

We get suckered into the cute, furry routine just like the Peltzers. It’s a family movie alright, but more about a families survival than in the traditional sense of the word. As such it caused such shockwaves Stateside and was one of two films that year, 1984, that helped create the PG 13 rating in America, the other film being Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

For all the Gremlins’ attacking from a Christmas tree, driving a bulldozer into the Futterman house, causing mayhem in the streets it’s a very low key scene that lingers in the memory and proves to be the most distressing, that classic monologue by Phoebe Cates on why she hates Christmas, a chilling story of them finding her dead dad stuck up the chimney dressed as Santa Clause. Inspired and perhaps only pipped by the SS Indianapolis story speech by Quint in Jaws for its powerfulness and evococativeness.

The set pieces and the imagery, their swirling lights of the swimming pool when Stripes throws himself in at the deep end, the tension of the death of the college tutor scene played against the rapidly beating heart on the projector, on par with anything in The Howling. Not to mention the discovery of the pods and the classic kitchen scene.

It’s a shame that Dante went for out and out comedy in the sequel as it would have been an interesting study in terror to see them go really, really dark. Of course, a remake or reimagining has been mentioned but it really does remain to be seen whether the Gremlins would hold the same appeal us knowing that they were merely pixels. The Gremlin creations by Chris Wallas are pretty much pitch perfect in design, that other unsung hero of the film is also Jerry Goldsmith and his blistering score that manages to be both comical and scary in equal measure.

It really is a nasty piece of work, and is all the more beloved and beautiful for it. Full of great energy, Dante clearly has great fun letting the Gremlins run riot in the usual Spielberg-like world, albeit one full of B-movie horror high jinks, and it all works wonderfully thanks to the film’s humour and the charm of its young leads. It maybe a special effects lead film but it’s the story that drives it, just like Back to the Future again in many respects, remember when that happened?

Alien is often mooted as the monster sci-fi movie of reference but for me it will always be Gremlins, for me it will always be a great big little monster movie.

Back in Time: Celebrating 25 years of Back to the Future

Seeing the 25th anniversary re-release of Back to the Future (BTTF) on the big screen is not unlike time travel itself as it took me right back to my childhood.

I had never seen the original at the cinema, only catching the sequels on the big screen first time round, although I had seen it more times than I cared to mention on TV and DVD. This mattered not as I approached the screening with the same excitement as if it were a brand new release.

And it can more than hold its own in today’s world of everything being released in 3D thanks to its simple but winning story. As a film it held up not just magnificently but majestically, both against those films touted as family friendly fair today and even those from ‘whence it came, circa 1985, such as The Goonies and Ghostbusters. They are both classic films but BTTF just raises the quality bar and actually, even today doesn’t look to have aged in the slightest in its pacing or any aspect of its unfolding story.

It was a delight to watch the familiar story unfold with characters we have got to know and love every nuance and line of and see them giant on the big screen. It’s of great testament to the writers, Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, that the story, a modern day Wizard of Oz of sorts, still holds true and is practically timeless, which is perhaps as much to do with its setting as much as its writing.

Script wise it is practically faultless and doesn’t miss a beat, the perfect movie script, nothing is wasted no plot thread is left hanging and each piece of dialogue dovetails into the next and has real meaning and consequence. It’s piece of storytelling without an ounce of fat. Everything occurs and happens for a reason, right down to the tiniest of nuances and should be high on anyone’s list wanting to study the craft.

It’s almost as if the film was not made in 1985 but set in 1985, new audiences scoffing as much about Marty McFly’s bulky walkman as much as we did first time round about there being no Diet Pepsi!

The film itself bounds along at a fair old pace, another sign of its unflabby script and it not out staying its welcome, and at 1 hour 40-something is practically short by today’s standards where we have become used to the somewhat ponderous unfolding of the likes of Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins and one Captain Jack Sparrow, part 2 of the Pirates trilogy even having an interval in many cinemas!

It’s also refreshing to see a film where everything looks real and doesn’t have that muted CGI feel to it, everything in both time periods look and feel real and solid, almost as if you can touch them. Sure, we know the Hill Valley of the 1950s is a film set on the Universal backlot but we know that it was all recreated for us to see up on the big screen and not rendered in some computer.

The cinema that we went to see it in was busy and jostling with people and although everyone else was familiar with how the film unfolded there were still laughs to be heard when it came to Doc Brown and his constant questioning of the use of the word ‘heavy’, guffawing at the really rather more excellent than you ever remember Crispin Glover as the hopeless George McFly and the feeling of excitement building in those key action sequences.

The viewing experience was almost akin to watching someone you know do well on the sports field or on stage. You know they were good last time you saw them and are pleased that they’ve given a barn storming performance this time round. Often favourite films or programmes viewed when growing up tend to lose their charm or appeal, but with this one it only grows. It’s as if you know the film intimately.

But the film also has its melancholy side as well, not so much in the feeling that this is a period that we are so far removed from – even when referring to the 1980s – and is almost unrecognisable but also in the shape of Michael J Fox. He’s never been more breezy and likable, well okay I’ve got a soft spot for The Secret of my Success as well, but with his absence from our screens due to his Parkinson’s it’s a reminder of the loss of such an effortlessly comically gifted actor.

He will forever be Marty, much like Matthew Broderick will always be Ferris Bueller. He is stuck, quite fittingly, in a time capsule for us to enjoy again and again.

The whole trilogy is being released on Bluray for the first time on October 25th. It’s an essential purchase of course, the sequel neatly inverting and adding a new dimension to the original and third and final instalment heading way out west. But before you buy Back to the Future on Bluray do yourself a favour and go Back to the Cinema to see the original as it was always meant to be seen.