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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 III (1990)

Back to the Future Part III (1990)

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Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making The Trilogy-Chapter III
Deleted Scenes
Storyboard Comparisons-3
Music Video-Doubleback-ZZ Top
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-E.T. The Extra Terrestrial DVD Trailer
dts Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 113:25
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (68:46) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Robert Zemeckis

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Michael J. Fox
Christopher Lloyd
Mary Steenburgen
Thomas F. Wilson
Matt Clark
Richard Dysart
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

    And now the final film in the Back To The Future trilogy - you'll find the review of the first film here, and the second one here.

    This film has a little bit more serious content than the other two, because it has the job of winding up a number of storylines and themes. It also has to put forward the moral, but don't worry, they don't go overboard (for Americans, anyway). Fortunately, it isn't lacking laughs (the 1955 idea of cowboy wear is quite frightening, but very funny).

    If you haven't seen the first two films, skip to the Transfer Quality section now, because the following has to contain a few spoilers for the earlier films.

    Before we get to the opening credits, this film has a re-cap - remember: this film was appearing in cinemas the year after the previous part, and five years after the first one. The state of play was: (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Jennifer and Einstein (Doc's dog) are in 1985, hopefully OK after the timeline reverted around them. Marty is in 1955, looking up at the sky in horror. The elder Doc Brown is in 1885, having been flung there when the car was struck by lightning. Marty has just received the Doc's letter in 1955. Now we can roll the opening credits for this film.

    Marty takes the letter to the younger Doc, and they excavate the Delorean. The younger Doc constructs a replacement for the time control circuit, using 1955 technology. The result is a huge breadboard of valves, replacing one tiny integrated circuit. Marty is set to return to 1985, but they stumble across a gravestone in an old cemetery that changes everything - it reports that Doc was shot in the back by Buford Tannen less than a week after writing the letter. Marty is determined to return to 1885 and rescue the older Doc.

    There's an amusing example in this film of something that has dated quickly - Marty is being shot at, and he's told to dance, so he starts moon-walking (does anyone do that nowadays?)

    The town of Hill Valley must be frighteningly inbred. We get the spitting images of people appearing and re-appearing in its history. In 1885, there's a Marshall Strickland, who is the exact double of Principal Strickland in 1955/1985 (the two also share a strong attitude towards discipline). Seamus McFly in 1885 looks awfully like Marty McFly (1985) who is the double of his own son (Marty Jr) in 2015. But strangest of all, and inexplicable by ordinary genetics (without a lot of inbreeding), is the fact that Seamus McFly's wife Maggie is the exact double of Lorraine (Marty McFly's mother). And the Tannens - Buford, Biff, and Griff look very much alike, and share an obnoxious personality. Amazing!

    There is one main new face in this film, and that is the face of the pretty schoolteacher, Miss Clara Clayton (Mary Steenburgen). It is her appearance that throws a couple of bumps into the neatly laid out plans of Doc Brown.

    I do like the eye for anachronisms in this film. In particular, when Doc Brown mentions reading 20000 Leagues Under the Sea as a boy, Clara picks him up on it, pointing out that the book was only published ten years earlier.

    There's one thing that's a little jarring - when we see Jennifer in the last few scenes she looks quite a bit older than Marty - it's a shame they couldn't get the original actress for this part, although these are the only scenes where the mismatch shows up badly.

    This film does an excellent job of finishing off the trilogy,(SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) with the Doc finding love, and Marty learning self-control and confidence in himself.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    Someone has put a lot of loving care into this transfer. It is immaculate and is definitely the best of the three DVDs transfer-wise. In this sort of rarefied company, that's saying a lot.

    The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. That's the original aspect ratio - a big tick for that.

    The picture is sharp, beautifully focussed, and limpidly clear. There are oodles of detail visible, making the transfer a constant pleasure to watch. Subtle details that we've never seen before add to the viewing pleasure. Shadow detail is excellent and there's no low-level noise. This is the kind of picture we want to see every time, and it is a real treat getting it for a movie that deserves it.

    The colour transfer is perfect. The hint of dull colour in the other two discs is not present here. There aren't a whole lot of bright colours on display (Marty's pink cowboy shirt, Clara's purple dress), but they are rendered beautifully. Of particular note are the glorious browns and greens of the American West, which are simply gorgeous to look at. There is no trace of oversaturation, nor of colour bleed.

    Once again we see no film artefacts. There is very little aliasing, although there is more in this transfer than in the other two transfers. There is some moire effect - perhaps the nastiest example comes on the railway sleepers at 40:23 as the establishing shot slowly pulls back. There's no background shimmer, no MPEG coding errors, no significant film grain, and no macro blocking.

    The only subtitles are English captions. They look to be up to the standard of the other discs.

    The disc is single sided (with another nice picture label) and RSDL-formatted. The layer change is at 68:46, and it is quite an acceptable effort. It is just noticeable, but it is placed at a scene change, so it's not troubling.

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


    There are two soundtracks on this DVD: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and English dts 5.1. I have listened to both of them, and there's not a whole lot of difference between the two (and comparing them isn't particularly easy, either!), but what differences there are definitely favour the dts soundtrack. The differences lie in two areas: the surrounds and the bass, particularly the subwoofer. If you have a dts decoder, then I urge you to use it on this movie.

    The dialogue is always understandable on either soundtrack. There's what looks like some slightly out-of-sync ADR work at around 33:00, but it's the only example visible.

    Once again Alan Silvestri is responsible for the lush orchestral score. The score does a fine job, emphasising the events of the movie without drawing attention to itself, and remains consistent with the other two scores. There's a song contributed by ZZ Top in this score, and it even scores its own music video.

    There are some nice moments of surround sound in the dts soundtrack (especially in the scenes with the train); in the Dolby Digital soundtrack, these sounds are much less pronounced and distinct. The dts soundtrack also makes good use of the subwoofer to support the lowest octaves of the soundtrack, and there's more call for it in this movie than in the previous two; the Dolby Digital soundtrack misses out here, too - my subwoofer switched itself off through disinterest about 40 minutes into the movie, and didn't come back on until 83:57. The dts soundtrack keeps the subwoofer's interest all through.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The collection of extras found on this DVD is quite decent, second only to those found on Back To The Future. Quality and quantity are on offer here, with almost nothing that could be considered filler and much fascinating material.


    A brief menu introduction sets the scene for the final installment of the franchise. Subtle main menu animation and audio maintain the mood appropriately until the movie starts. Most menus have appropriate audio underscoring.

Making The Trilogy: Chapter III (16:20)

    This is the best of the Laurent Bouzereau documentaries on these DVDs and is riveting from start to finish. Robert Zemeckis makes some very interesting points about the editing of Back To The Future Part II and many other aspects of the production are delved into. Of the three featurettes, this was the only one which finished all-too-soon and left me wanting much more. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Outtakes (1:36)

    Most of these outtakes are of the 'actor fluffs their line and bursts out laughing' variety which normally aren't funny to anyone else, but for some reason these particular outtakes are genuinely funny and had me vigorously guffawing. Presented at 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Deleted Scenes (1:11)

    Actually just a single deleted scene involving Mad Dog Tannen and Marshall Strickland, this is in fact a very interesting scene. One wonders how the movie would have played with this scene in place. This deleted scene is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Storyboard To Final Feature Comparisons (3)

    These are presented at 1.33:1 in a split-screen format with the storyboard at the top of the screen and the final feature footage at the bottom. The final feature footage frequently aliases, but not particularly badly. Not my personal favourite type of extra, as previously mentioned.

Production Archives

    Various galleries.

Music Video-Doubleback-ZZ Top (4:08)

    Quite an interestingly staged music video with interesting juxtaposition of colour and black & white footage as well as movie and band footage. Presented at 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound and worth a look.

Theatrical Trailer (2:12)

    This appears quite disjointed - perhaps it is a work-in-progress print and not the final theatrical trailer? Presented at 1.33:1 and with extremely hollow and tinny Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial DVD Trailer (0:49)

    Getting us in the mood for another of the really big Universal DVD releases happening this year. Presented at 1.85:1, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

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 III is a great movie given an excellent transfer to DVD - this is the best technically of the lot.

    The video transfer is of reference quality.

    The audio transfer is excellent if you're listening to the dts soundtrack, and rather good if you're listening to the Dolby Digital 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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