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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Back to the Future Part II (1989)

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Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
dts Trailer-Piano
Featurette-Making The Trilogy-Chapter II
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Hoverboard Test
Storyboard Comparisons-Marty On The Hoverboard
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 103:37
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:05) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Robert Zemeckis

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Michael J. Fox
Christopher Lloyd
Thomas F. Wilson
Lea Thompson
James Tolkan
Jeffrey Weissman
Elisabeth Shue
Case Gatefold
RPI Box Music Alan Silvestri

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Back To The Future Part II is the second film in the Back to the Future trilogy - you'll find our review of the first film here.

    Back To The Future was a smash hit, and the studio was offering big money for a sequel - can you blame them for accepting? I gather they always planned the second and third films as a pair, and filmed them simultaneously - that's why they came out only one year apart. That's also how they managed to tack a trailer for the third film onto the end of the second film, even in the original cinema screenings. It also excuses the ending of the second film with "to be concluded...", unlike the end of the first film, which included "to be continued..." only on the video release.

    They managed to collect most of the key members of the original cast, but they had to cast different actors for George McFly (Jeffrey Weissman) and Jennifer (Elizabeth Shue). George isn't important, because about the only talking appearance he makes is as an old man, and upside-down. But Jennifer (Marty's girlfriend) is important - we get to see her in close-ups. I'm impressed by how very close in appearance she is - I very much doubt I'd have noticed the casting change if it weren't pointed out.

    It's quite clear that the "Two Bobs" wanted to have some fun, so they carefully wove the 1955 portion in and around the storyline we saw in the first movie. They showed us scenes we saw in the first film, but from a different angle, revealing that there were extra people present. They get very elaborate from time to time, choreographing the scenes very nicely, so the bits we know from the first film take place in the background, in the foreground, or even in the middle, while the new bits happen around them. It is elegant testimony to their scripting that it all comes off so well.

    The Plot? You haven't already seen this film? Oh, you just awoke from a 14 year coma - I guess that explains it.

    At the end of the first film there's a joke sequence where everything seems settled, but suddenly Doc Brown appears, and tells Marty that he must take him back to the future to help Marty's kids, who've gotten themselves into trouble. The filmmakers admit that this was intended as little more than a neat ending for the original film. It is cute that they managed to derive half the plot for the sequel from that one scene.

    The Doc collects Marty, and Jennifer (who the Doc drags along to avoid having her talk about things), and takes them forward in time to 2015 (30 years in the future, to be symmetric with the 30 years in the past of the first film). Marty becomes acquainted with the latest in teenage fashion (cute production design in this, and so much else of the 2015 setting). He has an encounter with Griff (Biff's grandson, who has clearly inherited all of Biff's character flaws, and added some more of his own), including a partial recreation of the skateboard chase from 1955, but using hoverboards. I must say, Griff got the coolest hoverboard - a jet-propelled "Pit Bull" model. Anyway, Marty manages to achieve what the Doc wanted - he gets his future child out of a scrape. Unfortunately, while this has been happening, Jennifer has managed to get into trouble, and Biff has caught on to the idea of the time machine.

    Suffice it to say that our intrepid heroes find it necessary to visit both 1985 and 1955 again, and some interesting things happen along the way. They manage to resolve most of their problems, there's still another film to go...

    One thing struck me about this film as I watched it. The video waiters in the Cafe 80s (in 2015) all had mannerisms of Max Headroom - that dates the film badly, because Max Headroom wasn't around for long - I can't imagine anyone designing the Max Headroom idea into a film today (let alone in 13 years).

    I don't know if you'll agree, but I find this the weakest of the three films - I guess that's to be expected, because it doesn't get to finish cleanly, unlike the first and third films. I'm not saying it's bad, just that the other two are better.

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Transfer Quality


    Universal have provided us with another magnificent transfer to DVD. The care taken in the transfer of this movie to DVD shows in each and every shot, and it was worth every cent of the substantial amount spent on this transfer and every minute of the wait for this movie to appear on DVD. In fact, it's hard to write critically about this transfer because there simply isn't anything of substance to complain about.

    The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. That's good.

    The picture is amazing. It manages to provide a sharp, beautifully focussed image with awesome control over depth of field. That depth of field is vital to all the scenes that have the film 1 scene playing and a film 2 scene happening around it. Shadow detail is excellent. I noticed no low-level noise.

    Colour is excellent. It's very slightly better than the first film, but a film made today could demonstrate even more vivid colours, even if it is only to a tiny degree. There's no oversaturation and no colour bleed.

    This transfer shows no film artefacts, except for the tiniest trace of grain in a couple of instances. There's next to no aliasing, only a momentary hint of moire, and no significant background shimmer. If you're getting the feeling that this transfer is impressive, then maybe I'm doing the job right - that's what I'm trying to say.

    The only subtitles are English captions. I sampled them, and they seemed fairly accurate, nicely timed and easy to read. They were occasionally abbreviated for rapid-fire dialogue, but that's unavoidable if they are to be legible.

    The disc is single sided, with another nice picture label, and RSDL-formatted. The layer change is at 63:05, and it is not as good as one on the first disc - it's placed in the middle of a scene, and noticeable, but it's not too distracting.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are only two soundtracks this time. There's no commentary. Both soundtracks are the movie's audio, provided in Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts 5.1. I've listened to both the soundtracks, and there's a noticeable difference between the two. The Dolby Digital soundtrack is very much a frontal experience, with very little use of the surrounds at all. The dts soundtrack makes more use of the surrounds in quite a subtle way, with some nice ambient sound, and better envelopment of the score - it's not very noticeable until you compare it to the Dolby Digital soundtrack (which isn't too easy - you can't switch soundtracks on-the-fly on this DVD, which is really annoying to a reviewer!). The dts track also provides a bit more kick in the bass register - not a huge amount, but enough to give the thunder (for example) more oomph. It is definitely worth listening to the dts soundtrack if your system supports it, but the Dolby Digital will do fine if that's all you have.

    The dialogue is comprehensible at all times. There's a short patch of poor audio sync at around 61:12, but I'm fairly sure that this is the result of poor ADR work (and therefore related to the source material).

    Alan Silvestri scored this film, too. He's done a good job here - the score supports the film nicely without drawing attention to itself. This is a lush, full orchestral score in the traditional mould of big, bold adventure movie scores.

    There's not a lot in the way of surround sound here (on either soundtrack), other than some aggressive use during the opening hovercar traffic sequence (mainly in the dts track). I didn't miss it - this isn't the kind of action that needs a lot of surround sound. The subwoofer gets a little more work than in the first film, supporting the ominous tones in the score, and the occasional sound effect, but this is far from a hefty workout for the sub, especially in the Dolby Digital soundtrack; the dts track gives the sub a bit more work.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There is a decent set of extras present on this DVD which are nicely complementary to those found on Back To The Future. The only extra of significance that is missed is an Audio Commentary. Still, what is present is generally good, and mostly not just filler.


    A brief but apt introduction leads to the fairly clumsily animated main menu. Other menus have audio underscoring.

Back To The Future Part 2 Featurette (6:41)

    Presented at 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, this is (unfortunately) pretty much a fluff piece with little to interest even the most rabid of Back To The Future fans.

Making The Trilogy - Chapter 2 (15:31)

    More from Laurent Bouzereau, this also takes a bit of time to get going, recapping a fair bit of what we have already seen. However, from about the 5 minute mark onwards, this becomes absolutely fascinating and riveting stuff, offering up numerous insights into why things were done in a certain way. One of the most intriguing insights is why George McFly's character was written as he was.

Outtakes (0:50)

    Presented at 1.85:1 and not 16x9 enhanced, these are variably amusing. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.

Deleted Scenes (3:16)

    These are excellent. None of them should have been included in the movie, but they offer an intriguing insight into what could have been. Biff's deleted scene in particular offers up considerable food for thought.

Hoverboard Test (0:58)

    Presented at 1.33:1 and silent, these are interesting but could have been so much more with additional information and expansion. You can sort of glean an idea of how they achieved this extremely convincing effect, but a full-on explanation and illustration would have been greatly appreciated.

Storyboard To Final Film Comparison (2:34)

    Nicely presented split-screen but not one of my favourite extras.

Production Archives

    Photo galleries.

    The Futuristic Designs gallery is interesting, but the remainder held little interest for me.

Theatrical Trailer (2:17)

    Presented at 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this is a dated trailer image and sound-wise.

dts Trailer-Piano

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 version of this DVD is not due out until November. Concrete information as to what will be on the R1 version is difficult to come by, but speculation is rampant. It is reasonable to state that the R1 version will have some additional extras over the R4 version. At this time, these additional extras would seem to include an audio commentary. Until reliable reviews of this title start appearing in R1, we cannot be more specific than this.


    Back To The Future Part II is a good movie given an excellent transfer. This is a fine DVD.

    The video transfer is of reference quality.

    The audio quality is very good, with a distinct difference in favour of the dts soundtrack.

    There are quite a few extras on this disc.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Saturday, July 27, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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