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When it comes to 'Back to the Future,' you can never go wrong.

Blu-ray Review: Robert Zemeckis’s ‘Back to the Future: 30th Anniversary Edition’ Goes Back In Time With New Special Features

As if it wasn’t hard enough to face the facts that Back to the Future celebrated its 25th anniversary, here we are, celebrating its 30th. It’s a little weird knowing that we are officially living in the future. October 21, 2015, has come and gone, and a few current events have happened in the meantime. Nike announced that we should be getting power-laced shoes next year; the hoverboard keeps getting closer and closer to a reality, and Pepsi has managed to bungle not just one release of their fictitious Pepsi Perfect, but two! Leaving a bad taste for fans worldwide.

Back to the Future, Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, Bob Gale, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Alan Silvestri, Dean Cundey, Crispin GloverSo what’s new with the 30th anniversary release? Surprisingly, not a whole lot. While the films’ transfers still hold up, they’re also still not quite as good as they could be. With five years passing, and such a monumental date for a re-release, you would think that Universal would have gone the extra mile. I guess for those willing to spend the money there is the Back to the Future: The Complete Adventures featuring a “working” flux capacitor packaging, a 64-page booklet, and the inclusion of the complete animated series on DVD. Is the lesser set worth the double dip? Depends on your feelings toward simply having an extra Blu-ray of special features. Running more than two plus hours I suppose it is fun to see the behind-the-scenes additions, but when a film is celebrating its 30th anniversary, is there really that much more to offer fans?

On the plus side, there are two new new shorts featuring Christopher Lloyd reprising his Doc Brown role. “2015 Message from Doc Brown” (:45) is a super quick message from Doc about making the future a good one. “Doc Brown Saves the World!” (9:38) has Doc on another adventure through space and time to stop Biff Tannen from creating Bifftech and destroying the planet with malfunctions involving all our beloved BTTF items such as the Food Hydrator, Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor, and even the hoverboard.

“Outatime: Restoring the DeLorean” (22:00) shows the painstaking, year-plus task of restoring the most iconic time machine ever invented. “Looking Back to the Future” is comprised of nine short featurettes that cover all the things about BTTF we may already know and love, but it’s nice to see them get broken down and discussed. “The Script” (3:02) has Bob Gale declaring the original film “The best screenplay I ever wrote” and I am not arguing that. “Casting Marty McFly” (5:05) lets fans know that Michael J. Fox was always first choice, but yet we still never see footage of Eric Stoltz in action.

“Christopher Lloyd Reflects on Doc Brown” (5:18) is a nice retrospect of Lloyd, well, reflecting back on playing such a treasured role. In case you didn’t know, Jeff Goldblum was also in contention. “The DeLorean Time Machine” (6:26) lets us in on the fact that the original time machine was going to be a fridge, and it’s also hilarious to see the driver using a giant fake dog head to drive the car when Doc is sending Einstein into the past. “Building Hill Valley” (5:02) finds Robert Zemeckis cracking wise about how he wasn’t old enough to remember the ’50s, but did his best to make it feel authentic and that those scenes were filmed before the ’80s sequences. “Preparing for the ‘Johnny B. Goode’ Scene” (7:28) has fun with Huey Lewis on set and watching Fox go over the guitar riffs — made funnier only with how fake it looks onscreen. “The Score” (5:08) was a highlight for me. I love a good film score and Alan Silvestri’s Back to the Future is by far one of the most iconic ever recorded.

Back to the Future, Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, Bob Gale, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Alan Silvestri, Dean Cundey, Crispin Glover“Pushing the Cut” (3:53) has the cast and crew joking about how fast the film was edited together; it was only about a month from wrapping the shoot to the release date. They also mention how glad they are that the film wound up being a success after some questionable test screenings didn’t go so well considering the film’s slow build. And finally, “The Legacy” (4:57) discusses the film’s long lasting impact on the world and how you can’t flip through the channels without running across at least one of the films playing. The fact that this supplement is from 2008 and it still holds true only shows the importance the films continue to have on fans and pop culture.

A set of 2015 commercials are included: the first is a fake, hilarious trailer for Jaws 19 (1:28) and a “Hoverboard Commercial” (1:06). Two episodes of the animated series flesh things out for those who don’t spring for the complete set, but these two episodes show that the series is clearly not a wise investment. Full of choppy animation and stale writing, the only interesting aspect is that the episodes are introduced by Doc. But sadly, not even the most brazen Back to the Future fan will be able to get much out of the nostalgia here.

Needless to say, anyone who doesn’t already own the trilogy — this person can only exist in some kind of alternate reality — the packaging is much better. Here we get a digibook case with a flip book making the discs way easier to get out compared to the ghastly 25th anniversary casing. I suppose the additional special features make this a no brainer for hardcore fans, but I don’t see anything else of interest for those who already own it considering these are the exact same audio/video presentations. I suppose sometimes it may be better to leave well enough alone, and in the case of such a classic trilogy, a 4K remastering was all the more we could hope for. Maybe we’ll have better luck with the 35th anniversary edition. Until then, any set you pick up is worth it, because when it comes to Back to the Future you can never go wrong. Unless it’s DVD, this is 2015 after all.

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About Cinenerd

A Utah based writer, born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT for better and worse. Cinenerd has had an obsession with film his entire life, finally able to write about them since 2009, and the only thing he loves more are his wife and their two wiener dogs (Beatrix Kiddo and Pixar Animation). He is accredited with the Sundance Film Festival and a member of the Utah Film Critics Association.

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