“Great Scott! In 1985, Director Robert Zemeckis, Executive Producer Steven Spielberg and Producer/Screenwriter Bob Gale embarked on a three-part journey through time that broke box-office records worldwide and catapulted Back to the Future into one of the most beloved trilogies in motion picture history. Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Back to the Future: Parts II and III, part of the Back to the Future: The Ultimate Trilogy from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

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The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

93



Details:

Studio and Year: Universal – 1989, 1990
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 109, 119 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Comedy/Adventure

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s):
Subtitles:
Starring:
Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Thomas F. Wilson, Elisabeth Shue, Mary Steenburgen, Billy Zane, Casey Siemaszko
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Music by: Alan Silvestri
Written by: Robert Zemeckis & Bob Gale
Region Code: A,B,C


Release Date: October 20, 2020


"The Future is NOW!"


Synopsis:

“Great Scott! In 1985, Director Robert Zemeckis, Executive Producer Steven Spielberg and Producer/Screenwriter Bob Gale embarked on a three-part journey through time that broke box-office records worldwide and catapulted Back to the Future into one of the most beloved trilogies in motion picture history.” – Universal Pictures Home Entertainment


My Take:

I previously reviewed the Back to the Future Trilogy when it was released on Blu-ray. This review will focus on Back to the Future: Parts II and III (Back to the Future’s UHD Blu-ray was covered separately) and will include comments from my earlier review. The rating for the film is the same. New ratings for the Ultra HD video, newly remastered 1080p video, Atmos sound and additional bonus features are below.


Back to the Future Part II: Getting back was only the beginning as the most spectacular time-travel adventure ever continues in Back to the Future Part II—the sequel that proves that lightning can strike twice! Picking up precisely where they left off, Marty and Doc (Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd) launch themselves to the year 2015 to fine-tune the future and inadvertently disrupt the space-time continuum. Now, their only chance to fix the present is by going back to 1955 again before it’s too late. From Academy Award®-winning filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, Back to the Future Part II provides more of the timeless excitement that made Back to the Future an unforgettable adventure.

Back to Future Part III: They've saved the biggest trip for last as the most popular time-traveling movie trilogy ever comes to a rousing conclusion in Back to the Future Part III. Stranded in 1955 after a freak accident, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) discovers he must travel back to 1885 to rescue Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) before he becomes smitten with schoolteacher Clara Clayton (Mary Steenburgen). Now, it's up to Marty to keep Doc out of trouble, get the DeLorean running, and put the past, present and future on track so they can all get back to where—and when—they belong. From the Academy Award®-winning filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, Back to the Future Part III is a spectacular grand finale to the unforgettable blockbuster series.

I have been a fan of Back to the Future since seeing it in the theater back in 1985. Michael J. Fox was already well known to me from TV’s Family Ties and the film’s premise looked like lots of fun. Of course, it turned out to be an instant classic that propelled Fox to stardom which led to more films including a pair of Back to the future sequels. Using time travel as the plot in film was nothing extraordinary however Back to the future brought it to life in a meaningful way that seemed tangible back then. The idea of a kid that most of us could easily identify with getting sucked up in an adventure where he goes back in time (via a very cool DeLorean) was promising but taking it a step further by having him inadvertently disrupt the sequence of events 30 years earlier that led to his parents meeting (which could result in him ceasing to exist altogether) opens a Pandora’s box filled with conceptual possibility.

The outcome was a thoroughly entertaining, multi-genre film the likes of which I had never seen before. Combining elements of science fiction, comedy, and action/adventure Back to the future titillated our imaginations and appealed to our sensibilities via a superbly constructed script/screenplay that never felt cheesy/corny and led us on an almost painstaking journey filled with clever references, laugh out loud moments and “credible” action that was only over the top enough to garner the occasional raising of an eyebrow. The idea of needing to get “Back” to the future was just plain cool and the integration of the characters within the two timelines and how Marty interacted with them was brilliant. The idea of NOT interfering with the past due to its residual effects on the present (or future) is clear but who can blame Marty for “tweaking” things a bit? The concept of tweaking the past and future is what drives the continuing storyline in the two sequels.

Part II finds Doc and Marty headed to the future in order to prevent Marty and Jennifer’s children from running afoul of the law. Their presence there sets off a chain of events involving bad guy Biff and his time tinkering which results in an alternate and darkly unpleasant “present” 1985. Doc and Marty head back to 1955 to stop Biff however while righting those wrongs Doc and the DeLorean are accidentally sent back to 1885 with no way to return. Fortunately, Doc is right at home in the old west, that is, until Marty and 1955 Doc discover that he gets shot in the back by Mad Dog Tannen (you guessed it, Biff’s great great….). Once again Marty finds himself traveling through time in the third and final installment. My adoration for Back to the Future doesn’t quite extend to the sequels.

Part II wasn’t a bad movie (I liked the idea of the revisit to 1955 as it simultaneously pertains to the events as they unfolded in the first film) but, it feels campy and lacking the cleverness, and pitch perfect blend of humor and action that made Back to the Future so good. Part III’s trip to the old west and the Doc/Clara romantic subplot turned out to be better than expected and made for an entertaining follow up to part II and a decent finish to the trilogy.

I love the endearing characters in Doc, Marty, and Lorraine as played by Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson. Honorable mention must go out to Thomas F. Wilson in the role of Biff/Mad Dog Tannen. He truly was terrific in his portrayal of the multi-faced/time driven characters who not only make for a perfect foil for Fox’s Marty McFly but, add something special to each of the films. I can’t help but feel badly for Claudia Wells who played Jennifer in Back to the Future. She was unable to return for the sequels due to her mother’s illness and was replaced by Elizabeth Shue, who was just fine of course.

Back to Future is a classic film which has become engrained as a part of our pop culture. It has a remarkably timeless appeal that has remained constant over the years since its release. While I don’t feel that the two sequels rise to its level, they enrich it by bringing the story and characters full circle in a homogenous light.

I am such a fan and am thrilled that Universal Studios Home Entertainment has remastered these films and brought them to Ultra HD Blu-ray. Read on to see the results.

Please Note: Back to the Future II and III are available on Ultra HD as part of the Back to the Future: Ultimate Trilogy set and not separately.

Additionally:


Three premium collections will be available at select retailers for a limited time only:
• BACK TO THE FUTURE 35TH ANNIVERSARY TRILOGY LIMITED EDITION GIFT SET (4K UHD): Includes exclusive levitating Hoverboard replica (Amazon Exclusive)
• BACK TO THE FUTURE 35TH ANNIVERSARY TRILOGY LIMITED EDITION GIFT SET (Blu-ray™): Includes exclusive levitating Hoverboard replica (Target Exclusive)
• BACK TO THE FUTURE 35TH ANNIVERSARY LIMITED EDITION TRILOGY (4K UHD): Includes three newly designed steelbooks (Best Buy Exclusive)
• For more information on these exclusives, please visit the individual retailer’s stores and websites.



Replay Value:



Parental Guide:

The rating is for thematic material.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.



UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • HDR: Dark Highlights:
    • HDR: Bright Highlights:
    • HDR: Expanded Color:
    • Resolution:
    • Visual Impact:
UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • HDR: Dark Highlights:
    • HDR: Bright Highlights:
    • HDR: Expanded Color:
    • Resolution:
    • Visual Impact:
Dolby Atmos Rating: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • Level of immersion:
    • Soundstage integration:
    • Audio object placement:
    • Effectiveness of Atmos platform:
    • Entertainment factor:
Back to the Future II & III come to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

Universal Studios remastered Back to the Future II & III from the original 35mm film elements. Their respective presentations in Ultra HD is derived from that 4K image.

It's important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. These films incorporate film grain/visual effects and the use of cinematography that won't always result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of many newer films shot today. This isn't a problem and shouldn't be seen as such.

Back to the Future II & III are sci-fi adventure/fantasy/comedies that strive to recreate the look and feel of director Robert Zemeckis’ vision. Reminiscent of other classic catalog films released on Ultra HD Blu-ray, in particular Back to the Future, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, these renderings take the high definition presentations on Blu-ray to the next level.

Viewing these films in Ultra HD, my experience was much like that of viewing Back to the Future.

Back to the Future II is different from the first and third installments as it incorporates more visual effects. Ultra HD’s high resolution and wide color gamut allow the seams between visual effects and live-action to be much easier to detect. Marty and Doc’s arrival in 2015 with its effect laden “futuristic” backgrounds, trickery that allows Michael J. Fox, Biff and, Doc to play two characters onscreen simultaneously etc. have a rougher and somewhat washed out overall appearance than standard shots. This is an innate quality which I didn’t hold against the presentation as a whole. I found that each of these made for a similar viewing experience in Ultra HD.

As with Back to the Future’s Ultra HD rendering, I am happy to report that the primary foundation for these sequels remain fully intact while revealing layers of new detail, definition, color delineation (Biff’s high rise office/apartment in alternate 1985 in II and the earth tones at the drive-in and outside Clara’s cabin in III), and emboldened contrast that elevate the films thematic impact.

Aside from the VFX shots in 2015, the array of color in town square and diner’s interior are vividly reproduced. Things get better when Marty/Doc return to 1955. Biff’s black sedan with its deep red seating and sharp, detailed dashboard look terrific. The nighttime sequences in the third act, beginning at the school, followed by Marty/Biff in the tunnel, through to where Marty finds himself standing alone in the pouring rain (when the Western Union man shows up) are standouts for interstitial blacks and mixed light/dark elements that appear dimensional.

Back to the Future III is more less eye candy across the board. The daytime shots of 1885 with their bright, sun splashed aesthetic shine brilliantly, as the increased resolution and wide color gamut drew forth noteworthy amounts of delineation and depth. The shots of the locomotive are simply stunning. The low-level scenes such as the one where Marty/Doc unearth the DeLorean in the old mine and later, the one where Doc dances with Clara at the hoedown have excellent shadow delineation and dynamic range.

The sepia toned scene where Marty enters the saloon and, first encounters Mad Dog Tannen, was the only instance where imagery wavered, appearing flat.

The color range over the course of each presentation (with the exception of the previously mentioned VFX shots in BTTF II) is reproduced beautifully, especially the rendering of primary colors, which are gratifying and vivid. I also found that fleshtones appeared gradational and quite natural. The addition of high dynamic range added a pleasing visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light.

I also felt that the purposefully dark/dreary sequences benefited from the application of HDR which emboldened their blacks and shadow delineation. The brief scene where Clara and Doc sit in the moonlight looking at the stars through her telescope is a great example. In addition to the increase in resolution, scenes like this made allow the differences between the 1080p video and these renderings standout.


As with the first film’s Ultra HD video, I found the Ultra HD presentations for Back to the Future Parts II & III allow their attributes to be fully realized in a way that they hadn’t been before. This made the experience of seeing them again quite refreshing.


Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.

Comparing the DV and HDR10 presentations for Back to the Future Parts II & III, I found the HDR to be extremely close. In fact, I would go so far as to say they were negligible. Again, I want to emphasize that these films predominating elements aren’t consistently lent to the visually engaging type of HDR that makes the format shine. I did feel that the Dolby Vision renderings drew forth just a hint more depth in earth tones/primary colors and brilliant white detail. While I wouldn’t categorize it as worthy of a rating difference, it would be my preferred way of viewing these films.


Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos mixes on these films, I was reminded of several recent catalog titles that I have reviewed which received new Dolby Atmos mixes. None of the Back to the Future films are action-based. Parts II & III being a little newer, are a bit more active in terms of surround use so, I wondered what the application of object placed sounds would add. In each case I was generally pleased with the outcome.

The use of the overhead channels isn’t constant but, is used to accentuate “moments” via discrete sound objects or action, by adding the music score. When applied I found it elevated proportional correlation while enhancing the thematic details of what was transpiring at a given moment. When compared to the original 5.1 mixes the Atmos presentations offer a noticeable improvement by opening up the soundstage and seemingly offering broader dynamic range.

As I sated in my review of BTTF, I appreciated the fact that the sound designers didn't go overboard with the freedom of object versus channel-based mixing. These soundtracks retain much of their original essence with the Atmos mix adding a noticeable increase in scope.

I rate the quality of the mix as a complete listening experience despite where the sounds emanate from. Those expecting an active, dynamic, Atmos mix, where the overheads are heavily employed, should keep their expectations in check.



For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:


Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Blu-ray Video:


Video: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • Resolution/Clarity:
    • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
    • Color Reproduction:
    • Fleshtones:
    • Compression:
Audio: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • Dynamics:
    • Low frequency effects:
    • Surround Sound presentation:
    • Clarity/Detail:
    • Dialog Reproduction:
    • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA
Back to the Future Parts II & III come to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

According to the press documentation Universal remastered Back to the Future Parts II & III from the original 35mm film elements, and that same 4K restoration was used for the 1080p renderings.

In looking at the two films I found that overall audio/video quality was similar and didn’t require individual ratings/commentary. It is important to keep in mind that these films contain many special effects shots that were the shizz back in the day but don’t integrate as well by today’s standards. Add to that the revealing aspects of high definition and you have effects that aren’t nearly as smooth/cohesive as we have become accustomed to in the digital age.

I found the overall the quality of these video encodings to be high and within the scope of films original elements. Colors are beautifully rendered with revealing delineation, tonal warmth, and vivid textures. The softer earth toned hues seen in the western settings in part III offer lifelike depiction and spot on tonal balance. Facial complexions and skin tones are warm, with natural pinkish highlights. Images are appreciably detailed and sharp. The level of detail present only appears to fluctuate in the presence of effects laden shots, otherwise the video’s 1.85:1 frame has excellent dimension. I had no trouble making out the thread patterns in clothing, facial features or the texture on surfaces.

Well balanced black and white levels bring out plenty of visible detail in both bright and dark segments onscreen. The nighttime segments shots in alternate 1985 and, 1885’s western landscapes, have appreciable dynamic range and depth. This aids in the perception of low-level detail in sequences such as the (aforementioned) Clara/Doc moonlit night, the DeLorean/mine discovery and, Biff’s garage in part II (when Marty gets locked in while trying to get the sports almanac). Film grain is intact, appears well preserved and is consistently rendered over the course of each presentation.

The same DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix found on the previous Blu-ray releases are contained here. My comments regarding them are below

The high resolution DTS-HD MA audio mixes do a terrific job rendering these 30 plus year-old soundtracks. The high resolution DTS-HD MA audio mix does a terrific job rendering these 30 + year old soundtracks. Dialog has discernible intonation, with distinctive clarity and above average room penetration. These are more or less front oriented presentations that make effective use of the entire system to deliver the action-based components which are highlighted by fair response, defining clarity, and Alan Silvestri’s memorable music. Dynamic range is good although the limitations inherent in the original recordings are noticeable but, not defining. Surround activity isn’t constant but when applied can be copious as discernible spatial ambience and discrete sounds fill the listening area.

The LFE channel is similarly used to punctuate sound effects like the rumble of the DeLorean’s engine or the thrust of the Flux Capacitor as it kicks in just before launch. The soundtracks run the gamut and contain a variety of audio cues/spatial dimension that extends the soundstage. This includes the enriching envelopment of the music as well as the discrete placement of sounds such as a hovering helicopter as it travels from the right front of the soundstage around the rear to the left front. Imaging across the front is excellent while front to rear integration isn’t quite as cohesive. I noted that sounds mixed to the rear channels tend to be a bit more prominent than music which skews balance. The overall effect doesn’t prove overtly distracting though. In general, I found the audio presentation to be quite good.

.



Bonus Features:
  • Back to the Future II Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Back to the Future II Blu-ray
  • Back to the Future III Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Back to the Future III Blu-ray
  • Bonus Features
    BACK TO THE FUTURE II BONUS FEATURES ON 4K ULTRA HD & BLU-RAY™:
    • Deleted Scenes (Commentary by Producer Bob Gale available)
    o Old Terry and Old Biff
    o "Dad's Home" (Extended Version)
    o Pizza Scene
    o Jennifer Faints (Extended Version)
    o Old Biff Vanishes from Car
    o Burned Out High School
    o Marty Meets Dave
    • Tales from THE FUTURE: Time Flies
    • The Physics of BACK TO THE FUTURE with Dr. Michio Kaku
    • Archival Featurettes
    o The Making of BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II
    o Making the Trilogy: Chapter Two
    • Behind the Scenes
    o Outtakes
    o Production Design
    o Storyboarding
    o Designing the DeLorean
    o Designing Time Travel
    o Hoverboard Test
    o Evolution of Visual Effects Shots
    o Photo Galleries*
     Production Art
     Storyboards
     Behind-the-Scenes Photographs
     Marketing Materials
     Character Portraits
    • Theatrical Trailer
    • Q&A Commentary with Director Robert Zemeckis and Producer Bob Gale
    • Feature Commentary with Producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton
    *Only on the Blu-ray™ disc

    BACK TO THE FUTURE III BONUS FEATURES ON 4K ULTRA HD & BLU-RAY™:
    • Deleted Scene (Commentary by Producer Bob Gale available)
    o The Tannen Gang Kills Marshal Strickland
    • Tales from THE FUTURE: Third Time's the Charm [FEATURED BONUS]
    • Tales from THE FUTURE: The Test of Time [FEATURED BONUS]
    • Archival Featurettes
    o The Making of BACK TO THE FUTURE Part III
    o Making the Trilogy: Chapter Three
    o The Secrets of the BACK TO THE FUTURE Trilogy
    • Behind the Scenes
    o Outtakes
    o Designing the Town of Hill Valley
    o Designing the Campaign
    o Photo Galleries*
     Production Art
     Storyboards
     Behind-the-Scenes Photographs
     Marketing Materials
     Character Portraits
    • ZZ Top "Doubleback" Music Video
    • FAQs About the Trilogy
    • Theatrical Trailer
    • BACK TO THE FUTURE: The Ride
    o Lobby Monitor
    o The Ride
    • Q&A Commentary with Director Robert Zemeckis and Producer Bob Gale
    • Feature Commentary with Producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton
  • Digital Code
Final Thoughts:

The Back to Future films have become engrained as a part of our pop culture. While the first film is my favorite, collectively, they have a timeless appeal that has remained constant over the years since their release. Back to the Future Parts II & III arrive on Ultra HD Blu-ray as part of the Back to the Future: The Ultimate Trilogy Combo Pack from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring excellent overall video quality, complimentary Dolby Atmos immersive sound, and new/legacy supplements. It was a fun trip down memory lane and, I am thrilled to now own them all on Ultra HD Blu-ray.





















Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems