Back To The Future Trilogy

Back To The Future Trilogy

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Read Scott Macdonald's film review of Back To The Future Trilogy

This four-disc DVD set is overwhelming. One disc for each movie, with a smattering of extras on it, plus a further bonus disc with yet more extra material. It is an embarrassment of information, almost fully documenting the production details. There's well over 12 hours of bonus material here, including the commentaries and audio sessions, with a lot of very short featurettes, narrated by screenwriter Bob Gale.

Each film has been presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and the audio remastered to Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround mixes, as was in the previous DVD release. The image looks great for their respective ages, although Back To The Future looks surprisingly grainy, very much like film.

Copy picture

The audio fares reasonably, although the films are largely front-centric. There are atmospheric surround effects and occasional localised surround activity. LFE is largely absent, aside from the DeLorean travelling through time, and the showpiece finales of the respective movies.

Each film in the Trilogy has vintage Making Of promotional material, which is interesting enough. We see on-set footage of director Robert Zemeckis and a rarely seen shaven Steven Spielberg (executive producer). Michael J Fox looks suitably strung-out, due to his astonishingly busy schedule. Each of the Making Of mini-docs last about 15 minutes and suffers from recording limitations, like analog video noise and whatnot.

Much longer retrospective featurettes are available for all, which are much better. The conversation is richer, more thoughtful and it's worthwhile going through each of them. Zemeckis seems at home discussing the films.

Onto the really good audio supplements. On this disc each film has a very candid, thoughtful Q&A session, recorded after screenings at the University of Southern California (the original DVD set had just one recording, made for BTTF; this new set has all the films covered). Zemeckis and Gale deliver quality retrospective discussions, headed by the DVD producer Laurent Bouzereau, which will be interesting for film scholars and fans alike. There is no video, only audio in these sessions. They might have been better as mp3s, for listening on an iPod, than on a DVD (there's the usual anti-piracy disc warnings before we get anywhere near the menus, so let's pretend I didn't suggest ripping the audio recordings to a portable music device, shall we?!).

Each film has a smattering of deleted scenes - BTTF III has only one deleted scene - and they all have the option of a commentary by Gale. Standouts include: Marty having a discussion with the Doc about putting the moves on Lorraine; an extended Darth Vader scene with a bottle of chloroform to hand.

Each film's Outtakes are a nice addition, as jovial as the films themselves.

An Enhanced Conversation with Michael J Fox is up next, which is an interview overlaid on the film playing in the background. It lasts for 13 minutes and only very briefly covers the challenges faced by Fox in playing Marty. It's a nice trip down memory lane for him.

The only thing I can really see missing from these new discs are the audio commentaries on each film by Gale and Neil Canton. Recorded for the Region 1 DVD, back in early 2003, they were more like a nice reminiscing slumber party. Often, they'll tell an interesting anecdote, or titbit, but mostly, it's a lot of quiet backslapping and self-congratulatory stuff. Nothing to really miss.

There's a lot more text-only information on the discs, like Frequently Asked Questions and production notes.

Overall this is a very good package, sullied only by the lack of organisation. It feels like the mass of information could have been compressed into a very decent (long) Making Of retrospective, covering all facets of production, rather than the often slipshod video material presented.

Worth buying for the movies and Q&As.

Reviewed on: 06 Nov 2005
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Back To The Future Trilogy packshot
Box set release of the time-travel trilogy.
Amazon link

Product Code: 8236710

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85 Anamorphic Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS 5.1

Extras: Back To the Future: The Making Of Back To The Future; Making The Trilogy: Chapter One; commentary with writer/director Robert Zemekis and writer/producer Bob Gale; outtakes; deleted scenes; original make-up tests; Did You Know That? Universal's Animated Anecdotes; production archives; storyboards; trailer. Back To The Future Part II: Back To The Future Part II featurette; Making The Trilogy: Chapter Two; outtakes; deleted scenes; Hover board test on location; production archives - photographs, original storyboards and props; storyboard to final feature comparison; trailer. Back To The Future Part III; Making The Trilogy: Chapter Three; outtakes; deleted scenes; ZZ Top music video Doubleback; production archives - photographs, original storyboards and props; storyboard to final feature comparison; trailer. Bonus Disc; audio commentaries of live Q&A sessions with Robert Zemeckis and writer/producer Bob Gale; deleted scenes with Bob Gale commentaries; The Secrets Of The Back to the Future Trilogy; The Making Of Back To The Future Part III; production design; storyboarding; designing the DeLorean; designing the town of Hill Valley; The Evolution Of Visual Effects Shots; Huey Lewis and The News The Power Of Love music video; excerpts from the original screenplay; FAQs about the trilogy; and more!

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