In these trying times, watching nostalgic films helps us cope with the stresses of life and that’s where Back to the Future comes in for me. Having rewatched the entire trilogy twice this year alone, Universal Studios is giving us a reason to watch it all over again with a new “Ultimate Trilogy” box set.
These films are so iconic they’ve received multiple box sets in every format from VHS to laserdisc, DVD, and now Blu-ray too. In fact, Universal Studios produced an impressive Blu-ray box set with a Flux Capacitor built into the box just 5 years ago complete with new special features and a new scene with Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown. We’ve reached a new milestone of 35 years though so Universal has produced an even more impressive box set for our viewing pleasure.
At this point, you’ve likely seen these films a few times, but for the sake of completeness of this review, let’s just say these films are some of the best science fiction you can find. The special effects hold up relatively well, but it’s in the scripting and plotting this trilogy truly shines. Ahead of its time, the second and third films were shot back to back, further connecting them in well thought out ways. The acting is some of the best by all of the cast, including Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. They’re fun, exciting, funny, and simply excellent filmmaking. If you haven’t seen them this is a good place to start thanks to the impressive amount of bonus features.
For a film we’ve watched countless times and can find on streaming services with ease, the bonus features are what will draw you in. For starters, if you haven’t purchased a box set of Back to the Future before you get all the extra-features from previous box sets for each film. This is also the first-ever 4K Ultra HD transfer of the film so if you have a 4K TV and Ultra HD Blu-ray player this is the best transfer of the film yet.
Let’s break down the new bonus features and whether or not they are worthy of picking up the new box set.
The Hollywood Museum Goes Back to the Future – Running just ten minutes long this feature is hosted by co-writer Bob Gale who walks us through a few key items in the Back to the Future exhibit. It’s an informative 10 minutes as Gale discusses props and fun facts–like how Ronald Reagan quoted the film and Gale shares an anecdote about that–and points out a few of the more interesting things on display in the museum. It’s not an exhaustive look at every item in the museum–from how densely packed the exhibit is that would take an hour or more–but it’s a nice check-in to learn about the museum and get some facts from Gale.
Back to the Future: The Musical Behind the Scenes – This feature starts with a 28 minute Q&A with the cast of a new Back to the Future musical which premiered in February 2020. It features Bob Gale, Christopher Lloyd, and a few of the cast members from the show. Along with their insight in making and performing the musical, there are two original songs from the musical which can be played here. The songs are “Gotta Start Somewhere” and “Put Your Mind To It” which are music video style from the recording booth. It’s hard to care too much about the Q&A since we can’t actually see the musical, but it’s nice to get some insight into the making of it as well as hear two of the songs.
An Alternate Future: Lost Audition Tapes – Running just 4 minutes long, this feature shows off audition footage of now big-time celebrities who tried out for roles in the movie. The actors trying out for roles include:
- Ben Stiller – auditioning for Marty
- Kyra Sedgwick – auditioning for Jennifer Parker
- Jon Cryer – auditioning for Marty
- Billy Zane – auditioning for Marty
- Peter DeLuise – auditioning for Biff
- C. Thomas Howell – auditioning for Marty
Could You Survive The Movies? Back to the Future (NEW) – This 19-minute feature explores the science behind the film delving into the laws of physics that were broken and what would really happen to the characters. It starts by breaking down the opening scene in the first film when Marty strums his guitar in front of a giant speaker which blows him backward. With high production values, the show explains in a clear way how the science of a speaker blowing you backward would actually harm Marty greatly.
This feature is actually available on YouTube for free so doesn’t feel quite as special as the previous new features. You can watch it below.
That wraps up the new features, but if you didn’t purchase the Back to the Future box set in 2015, all the bonus features below will be brand new to you. They also are in 4K Ultra HD for the first time.
- 2015 Message from Doc Brown
- DOC BROWN SAVES THE WORLD!
- OUTATIME: Restoring the DeLorean
- Looking BACK TO THE FUTURE
- The Script
- Casting Marty McFly
- Christopher Lloyd Reflects on Doc Brown
- The DeLorean Time Machine
- Building Hill Valley
- Prepping for the “Johnny B. Goode” Scene
- The Score
- Rushing the Cut
- The Legacy
- BACK TO THE FUTURE: The Animated Series
- Brothers (Season 1, Episode 1)
- Mac the Black (Season 2, Episode 1)
- 2015 Commercials
- JAWS 19 Trailer
- Hoverboard Commercial
BACK TO THE FUTURE bonus FEATURES ON 4K Ultra Hd & BLU-RAY™:
- Deleted Scenes (Commentary by Producer Bob Gale available)
- Peanut Brittle
- “Pinch Me”
- Doc’s Personal Belongings
- “She’s Cheating”
- Darth Vader (Extended Version)
- “Hit Me George”
- “You Got a Permit?”
- The Phone Booth
- Tales from THE FUTURE: In the Beginning…
- Tales from THE FUTURE: Time to Go
- Tales from THE FUTURE: Keeping Time
- Archival Featurettes
- The Making of BACK TO THE FUTURE
- Making the Trilogy: Chapter One
- BACK TO THE FUTURE Night
- Michael J. Fox Q&A
- How He Got the Role
- The Character of Doc
- Working on a Film and TV Series at the Same Time
- Shooting BACK TO THE FUTURE II and III Together
- Special FX and Stunts
- The Appeal of BACK TO THE FUTURE
- Shooting BACK TO THE FUTURE
- Behind the Scenes
- Original Makeup Tests
- Nuclear Test Site Sequence (Commentary by Producer Bob Gale available)
- Photo Galleries*
- Production Art
- Behind-the-Scenes Photographs
- Marketing Materials
- Character Portraits
- Huey Lewis and the News “The Power of Love” Music Video
- Theatrical Teaser Trailer
- Join Team Fox
- Q&A Commentary with Director Robert Zemeckis and Producer Bob Gale
- Feature Commentary with Producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton
For just under $45, this box set is without a doubt the best collection of the series to date. It offers the most cutting-edge high-definition transfer of the film, contains nearly every bonus feature ever collected with each film, and offers three new bonus features too. Back to the Future is one of the greatest science fiction films ever made and likely the most accessible science fiction film that inspired a generation of movies in the summer blockbuster-style we’ve come to expect and love. I highly recommend picking up this box set and going back to Back to the Future.
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