Back To The Future Part III

Back To The Future Part III

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

At the close of Part II, Marty's at the end of Part I, as lightning strikes the clock tower and sends the DeLorean into spacial limbo. He needs to find Doc Brown, because he's trapped in the wrong time zone, although the Doc thinks he's sent him to the right one.

When Marty explains that he's back from 2015 only seconds after disappearing in 1955, en route for 1985, the Doc hits the deck. Even scientists can't handle that kind of confusion. On recovering, they discover a letter in the Doc's house, written to Marty in 1885, telling him that the DeLorean needs repairs and is hidden in a cave in Monument Valley.

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How the Doc ended up in a previous century and what he did there and why he liked it is another story. They go to Monument Valley, find the cave, blow it open and repair the car. While there, they notice a graveyard, with the Doc's name on one of the headstones. The date of his death is only six days after the date on the letter.

Marty decides that he must go back to 1885 and stop this happening. If he could arrange his mother and father's meeting at the high school prom in 1955 and so save his own birth, he has a good chance of keeping the Doc alive 70 years earlier. Except for one thing. Biff the bully is now his great grandfather Mad Dog Tannen, the meanest gunslinger in the West.

What follows is not the further adventures of Marty McFly, but the comic romance of Doc Emmett Brown. As a spoof western, the film relies too heavily on pastiche and reruns of former scenes, done cowboy-style. Even Mad Dog finishes up under a load of manure, like Biff in Part I, and Marty's weakness for the chicken taunt is exploited ruthlessly.

Modernisms are played with. After his arrival, Marty is befriended by his ancestors, Seamus and Maggie. When asked his name, he can't tell them, and so says, "Clint Eastwood," which leads later, when avoiding the murderous intentions of Mad Dog, to an old-timer in the saloon announcing, "D'ya want everyone to remember Clint Eastwood as the biggest yellow belly in the West?"

As usual, the problem is how to get home. Saving the Doc from Mad Dog's bullet is one thing and untangling him from an infatuation with the prissy schoolteacher (Mary Steenburgen) another, but now the DeLorean is out of gas, they have to answer a chilling question. If fuel injection engines haven't been invented, let alone petrol, what will make the car go fast enough to break the time barrier?

The film retains its Heath Robinson imagination, although, being in frontier country, tools are limited. The western genre, with its classic cliches, tends to bog down the story, leaving Michael J Fox in a state of permanent surprise and Christopher Lloyd's Doc taking the initiative.

Despite magnificent set pieces and superb, if limited, special effects, this final episode in the trilogy doesn't match its predecessors, ending too cosily with the comforting message that "anyone can change their future".

Reviewed on: 06 Nov 2005
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Back To The Future Part III packshot
Marty and the Doc head back to the Wild West.
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Director: Robert Zemeckis

Writer: Bob Gale

Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Thomas F. Wilson, Lea Thompson, Elisabeth Shue, James Tolkan, Matt Clark, Richard Dysart

Year: 1990

Runtime: 118 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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