The nostalgia of hover boards, DeLorean time machines, and self-lacing shoes are what most people think of when they think of Back to the Future II. But Robert Zemeckis is a strange man. He's directed a handful of the biggest blockbusters of all time, including the Back to the Future franchise, and gave those movies a big-budget, crowd-pleasing sheen. Then he discovered 3D CGI modeling, moved permanently to Uncanny Valley, and worked on perfecting the look of reanimated corpses with lifeless eyes in The Polar Express, Beowolf (aka "let's render Angelina Jolie's tits in 3D, the movie"), A Christmas Carol (Jim Carey destroying yet another kids story), and other computer-generated nightmares.
But when you actually look at the plots of Zemeckis's most beloved movies, they're amazingly cynical. The crucial conflict in the first Back to the Future movie revolves around Marty's mom wanting to bone her son instead of Marty's future dad. Michael J. Fox, whose breakout role was as a young Republican who always wore a tie and carried a briefcase to school, was the most mayonnaise young actor of the '80s. But there he is as Marty McFly (oh boy) teaching the (black) musicians in 1955 how rock & roll is supposed to be played. The guitar player Marty replaced in the band calls his cousin Chuck Berry so he can learn how to play his signature style from a white suburban teenager.
Zemeckis loved this idea so much--an idiot inspiring some of the most important music and events of the 20th century--he made an entire movie around it in Forrest Gump, a movie which inspired a chain of seafood restaurants that still exist over 20 years after the movie was released. The female protagonist in Forrest Gump, Jenny, is consistently punished for her liberalism and sexuality, and eventually dies of AIDS after being redeemed by the love of a moron.
In Back to the Future II, the really, really weird darkness that seeped into the background of Zemeckis's other movies comes front-and-center. When Marty returns from the future to 1985 Biff, the comical heel from the first movie, turns into a murderer, killing Marty's dad, trying to kill Marty, driving Marty's mom to alcoholism, committing Doc to an asylum, and turning their suburb into a hellscape. All because Marty took a sports almanac in 2015 back in time.
The stakes are a lot higher in Back to the Future II. Marty has to go back to 1955 and surreptitiously stop Biff from receiving the sports almanac while not interfering with the events from the first movie, not to make sure his parents meet-cute and eventually give birth to Marty and his siblings, but to prevent the destruction of both his family and society.
But all the characters and their roles are also oddly static. Marty is essentially the same person as his son, as is Biff's son Griff. All of society collapsed in the dystopia of Biff's 1985, but everyone still lives in the same town, even the same house. Back to the Future II presents a hilarious and terrifying determinism, a pitch black existential joke where every single person is doomed by DNA and circumstance to be in the same relationships forever. Zemeckis put a cartoon gleam to this awful scenario, with upbeat music, impeccable set design, and likable actors. And the audience watched it and loved it. That is superb film-making: turning murder and insanity and societal collapse in a world with no free will into a summer blockbuster beloved by millions.
How are the Sharks doing?
Kind of bad right now, thanks for asking. Martin Jones didn't even pitch a shutout or get a goal wavied off! Al Stalock sucks, but we all knew already. Paul Martin was apparently the difference between the Sharks being amazing and listless shit munchers. Good thing we're going to play the Kings, who surely don't have a reason to kick our ass after we embarrassed them in the season opener.
Kings @ Sharks
7:30 PM Pacific
Prediction: the Kings and Sharks are doomed to repeat their roles of terrible assholes (Kings) and useless weenies (Sharks) forever, despite my attempts to go back and forward in time to change things.
October 21, 2015