Review: Back to the Future II

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Back to the Future II opened on this date in 1989. The film starred Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. The film was written by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, with Zemeckis directing.


Back to the Future II picks up right where the first “time traveling adventure” film ends. Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) needs Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) to travel with him to 2015 to help Marty’s kids. The pair then accidentally causes huge amounts of damage to the 1985 timeline they traveled from. Doc and Marty set out to fix all the harm they caused to their past, present and future.


  • The first Back to the Future film is a timeless classic and creating a satisfying sequel to it was nearly an impossible task. With BTTF II, Zemeckis and Gale brilliantly created a film that was completely different in tone than the original. However, it is still a continuation of the first film’s story. The sequel is far darker than the original. The first Back to the Future film relied on sentiment and an abundance of heart. The second chapter of the BTTF trilogy is almost completely void of sentiment—and that allows the film to be a different experience.
  • The amount of memorable creativity and iconography in BTTF II is truly amazing. The Hover Board, Nike Air Mag sneakers and all the other things we are introduced to in the future 2015 have made an impact on popular culture. Few films in history have introduced as many beloved props as Back to the Future II.
  • Back to the Future II explores time travel in thrilling ways. The science and logic of the time traveling kind of falls apart if you examine it too closely. But, you get so caught up in the imagination that you gladly overlook the story inconsistencies.
  • Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd had perfected their performances as Marty and Doc by the time they appeared in the sequel. Their performances and interaction are the anchor of part II and the entire series.


  • The comedy in part II is often much sillier than the original. Fox plays Marty’s daughter Marlene McFly in the film and it feels incredibly unnecessary. The choice was only made for laughs and it doesn’t quite work. Fox’s portrayal takes you out of the movie in the scenes that he plays Marlene.
  • Crispin Glover’s George McFly was one of the most memorable aspects of the first BTTF film. Glover didn’t return for the sequel and his absence is definitely felt. The comedy, which is the weakest part of II, would have been helped if Glover were onboard.
  • Back to the Future II isn’t really a film that can be enjoyed, or even understood, without first watching BTTF. You also have to watch Back to the Future III to wrap up the events of II. Back to the Future II isn’t a standalone film the way the first one was.

In Closing:

Back to the Future II is a follow up to one of the greatest films ever made. By attempting to be a different movie than the original, it becomes one of the greatest sequels ever made. The film takes chances and almost every risk pays off because of the innovation that went into the script. Back to the Future II was never going to best the perfection of part I. By pushing the story and characters into new directions it was able to become a triumph second chapter in the BTTF trilogy.

Rating: A-