There's something rotten in Hill Valley

Something has always upset me about Back to the Future 2. I never could quite put my finger on the issue, never knew exactly what upset me so. Part of me figured that following the original Back to the Future, one of the best films ever made, was such a difficult task that any film would pale in comparison.

But it's more than that. C'mon, admit it, you feel it too. Back to the Future 2 is a weird flick.

So this weekend, being a long one and all, I sat down to figure out just where my hatred of this film comes from.

My first conclusion was simple enough. Back to the Future 2 undoes much of the ending of the original Back to the Future, the grand finale, if you will. When an inferior film negates the mythology of a much better film, bile seeps up from the gut of the fanboy (Episode One, I'm a-lookin' at you! Midichloreans my ass!!) The crappy conclusion of Back to the Future 2 takes place at the same place and time as the fantastic conclusion of Back to the Future, changing it as it goes. Not cool.

There. A good reason to detest the sequel.

Good ... but not good enough. I dug deeper.

Back to the Future 2 is a much messier film than the original. First they went ahead to 2015, then back to 1955, then to an alternative 1985, then back to 1955, finally to the real 1985. Too much is going on there. What's their goal? To stop the 2015 Biff from giving the 1955 Biff a sports almanac, thus creating the alternate 1985, with Biff as king? No. Well, first it is. But then the goal changes, to stop the 1955 Biff. Oh, wait, time out - we forgot that they originally went to 2015 for ... well, why did they go to 2015?!? I guess cause Flea fired 2015 Marty and his son was a doofus? Sure ... I guess ...

Messy enough yet?

True, but not enough to really piss me off royally.

And then it hit me. Back to the Future 2's alternative 1985 doesn't make any sense in the rules of the original Back to the Future. In the first film Marty McFly starts to disappear when history was being rewritten. Remember that? His arm was getting see-through when he was playing guitar? Big trouble. Once history was changed, there wasn't shit that you could do.

But not in Back to the Future 2.

Back to the Future 2 changes the rules of time-travel on us. Following the new rules of Back to the Future 2 for the original Back to the Future leads to much different results. All of the jimmying that Marty did with his parents' romance in 1955 didn't really change 1985, it would have just created an alternate 1985 where his father wasn't a doofus and Marty had a kick-ass truck. But there should already be an alternate Marty in that kick-ass 1985. Doofus 1985 Marty just went ahead to an alternate timeline, and since there was an alternate Marty in the alternate 1985 in Back to the Future 2, there should already be a Marty in the kick-ass 1985.

See what I mean? This sucks. As much as I'd like two Marty McFlys, it wouldn't work. The whole mythology is ruined for me now, not just Back to the Future 2. Yup.

Next weekend I'm going to create a time machine and go back to before I thought of this and distract myself, thus saving myself (and you-all) from the pain and anguish of this essay.

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Last Updated on: September 04, 2001

© 2001-2004 Joshua Paul Edwards

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