This time, we’re returning to a franchise we covered in the early days of the show with Back to the Future Part 2 and along the way we discuss what the rules for a sequel are, how this film nailed some predictions yet got 2015 so wrong, and how Crispin Glover, the weirdest man in existence, managed to forever change Hollywood. Let’s dig in…
Back to the Future Part II Cast and Crew
With a couple of exceptions, the entirety of the cast and crew returned to produce Part II.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis: After completing the first film in the series, Zemeckis became a hot commodity, and went on to make Who Framed Roger Rabbit? That film is great and we have no complaints to levy against it, but it was a clear indication of the technological lengths Zemeckis was willing to go to in order to accomplish his vision. If you’re unfamiliar with Roger Rabbit, the real world and the cartoon world are blended together with characters like Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse who coexist with humans in 1940’s Hollywood. The film blends live action and cartoon animations to create a surreal yet enjoyable experience and Zemeckis would carry this ambition into Back to the Future Part II
Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly: At the time of Back to the Future’s release in 1985, Fox became an overnight sensation and would star in several major 80’s movies including Teen Wolf, The Secret of My Success and Casualties of War, but returned to the franchise to reprise his role in Part II
Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown: Lloyd has enjoyed a great career thanks to his manic portrayal of this somewhat mad scientist and was more than willing to return to the franchise only if Zemeckis and Fox were signed on to return as well
Elisabeth Shue as Jennifer Parker: Shue replaced Claudia Wells from the first film and while Jennifer plays a slightly bigger role this time around, she spends the majority of the film unconscious and waiting for Marty and Doc to fix the corrupted version of 1985
Thomas F. Wilson returns to play Biff and Griff Tannen
Lea Thompson also returns to play Lorraine Baines-McFly
Crispin Glover didn’t return to the franchise following a disagreement with the producers, he was replaced with Jeffrey Weissman who was disguised using prosthetics and flipping the actor to obscure the audience’s view of the actor’s face
Alan Silvestri returned to compose the soundtrack as he had for the first film
Back to the Future 2 Special Effects: I Knew it was a Fake Shark
For the time of the film’s release, the special effects are incredibly advanced. For starters, it took the production design almost two years to build the sets.
The production designer, who had previously worked on Blade Runner, undertook the project with a personal goal of making Part II look nothing like Blade Runner. If you’ve seen Blade Runner, you know that it is a very dark and sleek yet it has an edge to it.
The team was given a blank canvas to do what they wanted, but there are differences between the Hill Valley square shown in the first film to that of the second film. Notably, the addition of the garden and fountain in the center and beefing up the technological advances are visible on-screen.
One big addition to the film was the introduction of the Vistaglide system. The Vistaglide camera system enabled Zemeckis to insert the same actor at different points in the same scene. Hence why we see two Michael J. Fox’s playing Marty McFly Sr. and Marty McFly Jr., as well as Thomas F. Wilson playing an older Biff Tannen and a character named Griff in 2015. While these type of scenes existed prior to this film, the new Vistaglide system allowed for camera movement and dynamic action in these scenes.
Introduced in the final moments of the first film, Doc had modified the Delorean to fly and that also had to be included in Part II. The Delorean exclusively flies in this film and it’s disguised rather well that you hardly notice it.