Review Detail

7.2 4 10
Special Projects July 12, 2012 8940
(Updated: March 02, 2015)
Overall rating
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So I finally got a chance to see this, and it’s every bit as fun as I hoped it would be.

I find many of the negative comments about this edit bewildering – “It doesn’t make sense out of order,” “You should have added context before the earlier scenes,” “It’s too long at six hours,” etc. Looking at these objections one by one:

Of course it doesn’t make sense in this order. It’s not the way the filmmakers originally put it together. It’s not supposed to make sense in this order. It’s supposed to show us what the events would look like when put together in order of Earth history. It does exactly what it says in the title.

The editor, Marty McSuperfly (hereafter MM), doesn’t make any indication that he’s intending to craft a completely different narrative. This edit is for people who already know the material forwards and backwards, and just want to experience it in a slightly different way. If he added context by showing earlier scenes, it would defeat the whole point of the edit.

And naturally an edit that features all three films back to back is going to be six hours long, just as advertised. Especially in a film series so tightly constructed as this one, I can’t think of any scenes that I would want to see cut--especially because cutting is not the goal. This edit just puts all the scenes in order, as it says it will.

I say all of this not to criticize the other reviewers—they have the right to their opinions—so much as I want other potential viewers to seek out this fun edit, and to approach it in the right frame of mind.

I liked the opening titles that MM added to the beginning of the movie, giving us the date that we’re starting with (Sep. 2, 1885). I would have liked to have seen new titles added each time Marty and/or Doc got to a different time period. Perhaps that would have eliminated some of the other viewers’ objections. But I didn’t really mind; it’s a matter of taste, not right or wrong. I’m guessing that for MM, part of the fun is seeing how different the characters look after the jump from what we’ll expect them to look like.

The first sequence, 1885, is the most straightforward of the sequences because only one film takes place there. But since I usually go through the films in order of release, it was fun to start with these scenes. Interestingly, gags pay off in a different order than usual. For instance: Usually, Marty showing up in the Old West and shouting, “Indians!” is the funny part, but in this case, the laugh comes when 1955 Doc tells Marty to drive towards the screen because “those Indians won’t even be there.”

The next sequence, 1955, is where the genius of this edit really starts to happen, as our intrepid editor gets to start interlacing scenes from the first and second movie. I kind of knew where these scenes were supposed to go already, but seeing them put together like this makes for a fresh and exciting viewing experience. Figuring out the exact sequencing and putting everything together like this must have been a painstaking and challenging process. Hats off to MM for all his hard work on this.

As fans know, Crispin Glover asked for too much money for the sequels, so he doesn’t appear in the later footage. With the intercutting, MM is able to use most of the Crispin Glover footage from the first movie in the 1955 segments so that it feels like he’s part of the events of the second movie. There was only once when MM absolutely had to use the voice of Jeffrey Weissman (the replacement actor) – in the scene where Marty is in Strickland’s office – and there’s really no way around that. Every other time, the integration between the two movies is seamless.

The fun continues in the 1985 segments, as we see parts of the first movie before switching over to the alternate timeline in Part II and then back again to the improved timeline from the end of I and III.

Of course, there aren’t really any changes to the 2015 scenes. How could there be? But it’s fun seeing them at the end. And it’s also fun watching them for the first time in the year 2015, and noting what the filmmakers were right about and what ended up being fairly accurate. (In their defense, the filmmakers have always said that they didn’t expect to predict anything.)

I was wondering how MM would handle the ending credit sequence. He just rolls the first, then fades into the second, and then the third. It might have been fun to see what it would look like to recreate the credits from scratch to reflect all the films (for instance, listing Michael J. Fox in the credits as Marty McFly, Marty Jr., Marlene and Seamus all at once). But I realize that it would have been a huge pain in the butt (who wants to itemize all the gaffers and key grips for each movie?) for very little payoff (most people wouldn’t even bother to watch). So I give him a free pass on this one.

There is one technical problem that I must acknowledge. While watching the films, the sound quality kept varying wildly. The volume seemed to go up or down each time the footage switched between movies. Strangely, none of the other reviewers have commented on this, so I wonder if the problem might be with our equipment instead of the edit. This warrants further investigation.

Overall, this is a fun edit that allows us to watch the movies in a brand new way that bring a new freshness to otherwise very familiar movies. Great job!

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