Back to the Future appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into an effective presentation.
Sharpness looked positive. A sliver of softness inherent in the original photography occasionally arose, but overall, the movie seemed accurate and well-defined.
No instances of shimmering or jagged edges occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws failed to create distractions, and with a light layer of grain, I suspected no egregious use of noise reduction.
Colors fared nicely, as the natural palette seemed well-reproduced. The hues became appropriately vivid within the movie’s choices.
Black levels appeared deep and rich, while shadow detail was appropriately clear and not too thick. This became a more than satisfactory presentation.
I also found myself pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Back to the Future. When I saw the movie theatrically in 1985, the audio greatly impressed me. While it now seemed like nothing special compared to modern titles, the sound still worked quite well for the movie.
As one might expect of a moderately older flick, the soundfield largely favored the front spectrum. Within that realm, the audio showed good life and movement.
The elements popped up in logical places and blended together fairly smoothly. Music also demonstrated nice stereo imaging.
As for the surrounds, they usually just reinforced the score and ambient sounds, but they came to life well when appropriate. The more intense action scenes at the end and also big sequences like the dance used the rear speakers well, and a few bits even manifested split surround information. For example, toward the conclusion, a helicopter zoomed effectively from rear right to rear left.
Although the soundfield seemed generally unspectacular, the quality of the audio held up well. Future suffered from some moderately weak dubbing at times, but the speech nonetheless sounded natural and distinct, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility.
Effects came across as accurate and vivid. Those elements lacked distortion, and they packed a nice low-end kick when appropriate. For example, the rumble of the DeLorean showed fine bass response.
Across the board, the music sounded quite good, and Alan Silvestri’s score demonstrated fine clarity and dynamic range, so his work came across surprisingly well. Ultimately, Back to the Future presented a nice soundtrack that has aged pretty positively.
How did the 2020 Blu-ray compare to the 2015 version? Audio remained identical but visuals demonstrated obvious improvements, as the 2020 release showed superior accuracy and colors.
The 2020 version also lost the edge haloes and noise reduction from the prior package. Though the older disc seemed perfectly watchable, the 2020 edition clearly appeared stronger.
Note that the 2015 Blu-ray literally reproduced the original BD from 2010. This made the 2020 version the film’s first remastering in 10 years.
Most of the prior Blu-ray’s extras reappear here, and we start with an unusual form of audio commentary. Instead of a traditional screen-specific track, we hear a Q&A with Director Robert Zemeckis and Producer Bob Gale. Hosted by disc producer Laurent Bouzereau, this chat comes from a session at the University of Southern California, and it offers a nicely informative conversation.
Of course, it never becomes screen-specific, but the two Bobs cover a lot of good topics. We get notes about the film’s origins and long struggle to the screen as well as many issues related to the production and reactions to the final product.
We get more info on the firing of Eric Stoltz as well as fun trivia like the changes the suits at Universal wanted. This session provides a very useful and engaging piece. (Note that this piece ends at around the 99-minute mark, so it doesn’t fill the entire length of the movie.)
A second audio commentary provides a more standard format. This one involves producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton, both of whom sit together for a running, screen-specific piece.
At its start, Gale warns us to listen to it after we check out the disc’s other supplements, and that makes sense, as this track mostly functions as an elaboration on other topics. Actually, much of it delves into fun trivia bits, so don’t expect a thorough discussion of the film’s production.
That doesn’t mean that this commentary doesn’t offer a lot of solid information. Gale heavily dominates the track, as we hear very little from Canton. Gale tells us many fun tidbits about the production.
He points out locations and goofs as well as issues related to the cast and their performances, among other issues. The commentary suffers from a few too many gaps, but as a big Future fan, I really enjoyed it.
For our first video-based supplement, we go back in time to 1985. A featurette from that period, The Making of Back to the Future fills 14 minutes, 28 seconds with movie clips, images from the set, and interviews.
We receive remarks from director Robert Zemeckis, actors Michael J. Fox and Lea Thompson, special effects supervisor Kevin Pike, executive producer Steven Spielberg, singer/actor Huey Lewis, production designer Lawrence Paull, producer/writer Bob Gale, and composer Alan Silvestri.
Most archival featurettes stink, especially those clearly created for promotional purposes like this one. However, “Making” actually gives us a pretty solid examination of the project.
It includes good basic notes about the script and the story and takes us through a mix of other elements. From Fox’s harried work schedule to the challenges of recreating the setting to the music, “Making” doesn’t paint a full picture, but it presents an entertaining program.
Made to accompany the film’s 1989 TV airing – and to promote the first sequel - Back to the Future Night goes for 27 minutes, 10 seconds. Hosted by Leslie Nielsen, we find notes from Zemeckis, Fox, Gale, Thompson, production designer Rick Carter and actor Thomas Wilson.
We look at aspect of the films’ story and characters, sets and period details, visual effects, cast and performances, makeup, and related areas. Obviously “Night” exists for promotional reasons, but it comes with enough meat to make it worthwhile.
Created for the original DVD, Making the Trilogy: Chapter One takes up 15 minutes, 30 seconds as it fills in some of the blanks left by the prior show. It mostly shows film shots and interviews; we hear from Zemeckis, Gale, and Fox.
We encounter a moderate amount of redundant information here, but some new details emerge, and since “Chapter One” offers some of the few shots of Eric Stoltz seen anywhere on this disc, it merits a look.
That’s right, you won’t see Stoltz in the deleted scenes, but the clips offer some very entertaining material even without those famous outtakes. This area includes eight cut sequences, and they last a total of 10 minutes, 44 seconds.
While I enjoyed all of them, I agreed that they should have been cut, with the exception of the peanut brittle shot; yeah, it’s redundant, since it just tells us info we already know about George, but at least it explains why the McFlys eat so much candy at dinner. (I always thought they did so just because they’re such losers.)
You can watch the deleted scenes with or without commentary from producer Bob Gale. He doesn’t tell us much more than the reasons for the excisions, but that’s good enough for me. None of the cut sequences seems significant, but all offer some fun material.
We hear more from the actor during a feature called Michael J. Fox Q&A. He appears in eight little clips that fill a total of 10 minutes, 20 seconds. Fox adds some good notes about the different movies, and these pieces seem reasonably informative.
Additional unused footage appears in the Outtakes area. It runs two minutes, 49 seconds, and unlike the typical gag reel, it actually offers some amusing shots. Even the standard goofs seem more amusing here, as they generally provide something unusual, like Fox’s battle with a problem window.
We hear more from the actor during a feature called Michael J. Fox Q&A . He appears in eight little clips that fill a total of 10 minutes, 20 seconds. Fox adds some good notes about the different movies, and these pieces seem reasonably informative.
Next we find two minutes, 17 seconds of original makeup tests. We see examples for Doc Brown and the older versions of Biff and Lorraine. These offer a great look at the design process, especially since they include a little audio as well.
Under Nuclear Site Test Footage, we view a collection of storyboards that run a total of four minutes, 12 seconds. Here we see an alternate ending to the movie that uses a nuclear blast to send Marty back to 1985. It’s an interesting change but not as good as the climax found in the final film.
We can view the footage with or without commentary from Gale. He tells us how the scene would’ve fit into the film as well as why it wasn’t shot. Gale offers a mix of good info.
The “Photo Galleries” break into five smaller domains. These include “Production Art” (25 stills), “Storyboards” (70), “Behind the Scenes Photographs” (76), “Marketing Materials” (39) and “Character Portraits” (74). All present good shots, though I like the alternate poster designs in “Marketing” best.
We find the film’s cool theatrical teaser trailer and we also get the music video for “The Power of Love” from Huey Lewis and the News. It mixes on-stage lip-synch footage of the band with a new Doc Brown-based story exclusive to the video. That side of it makes it a moderately entertaining piece and a nice addition to the set.
Under Tales from the Future, three new featurettes appear. We locate “In the Beginning…” (27:24), “Time to Go” (29:54) and “Keeping Time” (5:43).
Across these, we hear from Zemeckis, Gale, Spielberg, Fox, Thompson, Canton, Pike, Paull, executive producer/2nd unit director Frank Marshall, producer Kathleen Kennedy, director of photography Dean Cundey, DeLorean construction coordinator Michael Scheffe, editors Arthur Schmidt and Harry Keramidas, artist Drew Struzan, composer Alan Silvestri, and actors Marc McClure, Claudia Wells, Christopher Lloyd and James Tolkan.
“Tales” examines the project’s roots and development, story/character areas, cast and performances, the tricked-out DeLorean and various effects, cinematography, period details and visual choices, stunts, sets and production design, editing, music, promotion and release.
With more than an hour at its disposal, “Tales” covers the movie well. Some of the material repeats from elsewhere, but we find more than enough fresh material to turn this into an enjoyable collection..
New to the 2020 release, Join Team Fox runs six minutes, four seconds and offers comments from Fox. He talks about his charitable organization and promotes it. This makes it a long advertisement, but it seems to be for a good cause, so I won’t complain.
The 2020 Blu-ray loses an interactive “U-Control” feature found on the 2010 and 2015 releases. This offered a text commentary as well as storyboard comparisons and a discussion of connections among the trilogy’s three films. “U-Control” provided some good info, so it seems like a shame that it gets the boot.
Before I got these discs, I hadn’t seen Back to the Future in a while, and I’d almost forgotten just how much fun it offers. A lively and giddy romp, the movie suffers from some dated elements – anybody remember Pepsi Free? – but it packs so much gleeful comedic energy that it doesn’t really matter. The Blu-ray provides positive picture as well as good audio and a largely solid roster of supplements. Overall, this becomes a solid release.
Note: This film can be purchased as part of Back to the Future: The Ultimate Trilogy, a boxed set that also includes the movie’s two sequels and a bonus disc. I like all three flicks, so I felt happy to pick up the boxed set.
To rate this film, visit the original review of BACK TO THE FUTURE