Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Future is Now

It's hard to believe, but it's been 30 years since Back to the Future was released.  In the words of Doc Brown, "My God, has it been that long?"  Its even more impressive that it manages to hold up today, especially since back then, movies aimed at Teen audiences were little more than raunchy Animal House / Porky's / American Pie types.
Fun fact: This comic was first shown on June 12, 1983.
Chances are you've celebrated Back to the Future day (October 21, 2015, which I missed, but let's pretend you're reading this in the future, and you've come across an old article, so a few days won't matter) in any number of ways, ranging from franchising future product placement, to lamenting Jaws 5-18 (which were so bad we blocked them from collective memory, and thus were renamed B-movies on straight-to-video VHS tapes) to nitpicking the paradoxical nature of bringing Marty & Jennifer to the future (which was covered in a Darkwing Duck episode).  Whatever floats your boat (or flies your car), BttF remains enjoyable, even with its problematic issues, such as a device that causes instant drowsiness and a Cartoon spin-off.

Some have even gone further, saying that Back to the Future is a perfect movie, among the ranks of Casablanca and Citizen Kane.  Quite an impressive achievement from the early drafts of the script which was a mess, and gloriously covered in Tumblr form.  Another remarkable achievement is that BttF succeeds in making a trilogy work, where other attempted sequels fail, by making each movie independent of each other, while also telling a whole story, which was something the Matrix trilogy lacked.

Also difficult to comprehend is how resistant I was to the whole concept.  Not the time travel - that I pretty much accepted from the get-go.  What disturbed me was the whole Mommy hitting on her unborn son, which was the major plot point of the movie.  Also, I was fairly new to the whole concept of consequences of future events, so I was equally horrified of the visual metaphor of Marty's brother and sister disappearing from the photo.  When Brother Dave was reduced to a pair of shoes, in my mind, I envisioned a pair of bodyless feet just running around with nothing attached to them.  It didn't help that I saw the preview which showed Marty's see-throughable hand, which meant that he would be winking his way out of existence sometime in the movie.  Even when I was told that everything would work out perfectly fine in the end, I refused to believe this was true, since so many bad things were happening, resulting in a disaster avalanche.

I was also fairly ignorant about the usage of swear words, and had to be explained why the scene of Biff Tannen & his crew crashing into the manure truck was so funny.  Quite the opposite experience than most other people would expect, where they'd be uncomfortable about it.  At least I was told not to use that (bad) word in context.

So when the whole experience was finally over and done with, I was found out that there would be a sequel coming out next year.  Having gone through the whole traumatic experience with Marty, I found myself surprisingly eager to see the new movie, anticipating what new adventures he would get himself into, now that the threat of no longer getting born (or getting hit on by his mother) were no longer dangling Damocles swords points.

I rarely bothered going to movies, unless I had some general idea of the overall plot.  There weren't any Classic Storybooks let alone Golden Books available for The Black Cauldron and The Little Mermaid, so I had to resort to colouring books for both.  (The former was more interesting, and the latter had several scenes not included in the movie, and I'm sorry I didn't keep either when I outgrew them)  To prepare myself for seeing the movies in theaters, I was read several chapters of the novelization, in order to better understand the finer plot points, and explanations of the mechanics of time travel, which kicked into hyperdrive in part II.  Several pages at a time before going to sleep.  It certainly made for an interesting bedtime story.

After seeing the implausible ideas of what would happen in the future of Hill Valley, I asked if the sequel would still be a classic, even if its predictions turned out to be totally wrong.  After all, why would audiences want to watch a movie where Hollywood got stupid ideas about how the future would work?  Turns out that Nostradamus predictions are still enjoyable, even if they're way off base, since it shows what we were thinking of back then, and how misguided we were.

Even so, there was a surprising number of things that the sequel got right, save for the long-valued hoverboards (save for water-pump Got The POWER ones) and don't get started on the lack of flying cars.  Even now, despite people laughing at how everybody and their mother would be wearing jetpacks to and from work, people are still bemoaning the lack of propulsion backpacks in the future.

So with the latest influx of futuristic movies, chances are audiences may be wondering the following questions 30 years from now:

Where's the Mad Max Dystopia?
Where's the Robot Uprising?
Where's the Zombie Apocalypse?
Where's the Alien Invasion and Mars Colonization?
Where's the convenient scapegoat we can march towards with torches and pitchforks?
What's that awful music playing?
Where's my paycheck?
When's the next installment coming out?
Where's my hoverboard and flying car?
Why aren't things as good as they used to be?

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