Back to the Future: The Ultimate Trilogy – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Back to the Future: The Ultimate Trilogy
Back to the Future

Back to the Future is one of those pop-culture films that is so beloved by so many people that it feels like a warm blanket whenever you watch it. There are so many reasons why people love it, but at the core of it all is its heart. Director Robert Zemeckis establishes a lot of emotionally sweet Frank Capra-esque relationships between the main characters. 

The coming-of-age story from the perspective of Marty McFly and his parents works on so many levels. First, it leads us to the idea of what our parents were like when they were young. Marty’s viewpoint of his parents in 1985 and 1955 leads to some sweet and tender moments in the film. You still feel goosebumps when the orchestral strings emerge during “Earth Angel” when George kisses Lorraine. You root for these characters because they’re so likable, and they’re so charismatic. 

You can say the same thing about the relationship between Marty and Doc Brown. Their friendship is as sweet as they come, and you’re not searching for reasons why this teenager is hanging out with a “crackpot” scientist. You accept it because their friendship and their chemistry are just too good. 

That’s because Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd are pitch-perfect in their respective roles. Both Fox and Lloyd fits so naturally in their part. Not to be outdone, both Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover also stood out as Marty’s parents. From an exhausted drunk 1985 version to an optimistic 1955 teen version, Lea Thompson showcases such great range for her character. Crispin Glover has such an eccentric performance that encompasses such nervous energy that one can’t help but feel pity for him.

Overall, Back to the Future is a timeless classic that will stand as one of the best coming-of-age films of all-time. It’s a perfect blend of fun, comedy, drama, excitement, and heart. 

Movie Rating: 5/5 atoms

Back to the Future Part II

Because the filmmakers didn’t know if the film would be a success, they meant that ending to the original Back to the Future as a joke. As we all know, the film was a rousing success, so that joke became a jumping point for the inevitable sequel. Unfortunately, Back to the Future Part II lost some of that charm and heart that made the first film such a classic. 

That’s not to say that going for a darker sequel is a bad thing. The concept of the pitfalls and dangers of time travel is the primary focus of the sequel. It’s about how one fallen domino in time can destroy the entire timeline. The film goes into some very dark places, and in turn, puts our favorite characters into some darker territory. 

Marty McFly goes through the wringer in the sequel as his journey takes him to a lot of emotional places. Seemingly, everything he worked to fix in the first film falls apart in the sequel, and it’s all because of one selfish decision. It also reveals a darker side to Marty as his inability to overcome being called chicken has caused him a lot of trouble in this film and the third film. At the same time, Doc Brown’s guilt of inventing the time machine weighs on him heavily as the film goes on. 

As nice as the character development is, Back to the Future Part II is a joyless and hopeless film built upon a film that is based on joy and hope. Back to the Future Part II stays with the joyless tone throughout, and there is very little in-between. 

Overall, Back to the Future Part II is an ambitious film that doesn’t quite recapture the magic of the original film. Unfortunately, it suffers from the Hollywood idea that the sequel should be bigger than the original. Yet they don’t realize that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. 

Movie Rating: 3.5/5 atoms

Back to the Future Part III

Mixing multiple genres is not an old concept in Hollywood, but getting the mixture just right is what always seems to trip filmmakers up. With Back to the Future Part III, writer/producer Bob Gale and director Robert Zemeckis found a delightful mixture of comedy, sci-fi, romance, and westerns. With the third installment, both Gale and Zemeckis found the joy and charm that was sorely missed in the second film. At the same time, the film goes into a new and exciting direction with Doc and Marty in the Old West. The addition of the Old West gives audiences a fresh angle of the same scenes we’ve become accustomed to in the first two films. 

Back to the Future Part III also wraps up the stories of Doc and Marty quite nicely. Clara Clayton (Mary Steenburgen) is a welcome addition to the series as it provides audiences with a side of Doc Brown that we’ve never seen before. After all, Marty has had his fair share of sweet endings, so why not Doc Brown? Doc and Clara’s relationship also provides the sweetness that was missing in the second film. Yet it also gives Doc Brown further character development as his relationship with Clara goes against everything that he’s been warning Marty about in the past two films. The story essentially stays the same, but it’s Doc’s moral dilemma and his love for Clara that ultimately drives the film. 

Overall, Back to the Future Part III is a delightful conclusion to a fantastic trilogy. The film is a fun reminder of why we loved Back to the Future in the first place. Although the story follows the formula as past installments, the pure pleasure and fun that we have watching Doc and Marty go through the Old West make up for it. 

Movie Rating: 4/5 atoms

Back to the Future - Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd

Video

Back to the Future

Back to the Future hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with an HDR transfer and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The picture for Back to the Future may be the worst one out of the three due to its age, but it’s still one of the best-looking 4K releases of the year. The native 4K transfer lends itself to a slightly clearer picture than the 25th anniversary Blu-ray box set from 2010. The soft edges of the picture are still there, but that’s due to the original source material. Yet the colors, brightness, and black levels are superb in this release. The highlights shimmer and pop off the screen. The shadows are not a pure black, but it’s a consistent lighter black that contains no discrepancies whatsoever. The colors have a natural saturation to them as well. There’s also a fine film grain that maintains Back to the Future’s filmic appearance. Overall, this is a stellar Ultra HD release.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

Back to the Future Part II

Back to the Future Part II hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with an HDR transfer and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The video transfer for Back to the Future Part II follows a similar video quality to the transfer in the first film. The highlights shine off the screen, something you can definitely see in the stainless steel body of the DeLorean. This time around, the shadows are a darker black that stays consistent throughout. There are no details lost in the shadows, so you can see the entire alternate 1985 scene in its full glory. Similar to the original, the colors have an accurate natural saturation to them. The picture for Part II is also clean and crisp, but unfortunately, this also means that it highlights many of the film’s dated special effects. Regardless, this is still a stellar transfer.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

Back to the Future Part III

Back to the Future Part III hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with an HDR transfer and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It’s that surprising to say that Back to the Future Part III is the best-looking video out of the trilogy. It is, of course, also the most recent one out of the bunch. The colors appear slightly more saturated with a warm, Earthy tint to the overall picture. The picture also has a crystal clear picture with crisp details throughout — something you can see in the texture-filled world of the Old West. As always, the brightness and black levels are fantastic and consistent with zero discrepancies at all. Overall, the video transfer for Back to the Future Part III borderlines on reference quality.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

Back to the Future Part II - Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox

Audio

Back to the Future

Back to the Future hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos and a core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. This review will reflect Back to the Future‘s Dolby Atmos track. Not to be outdone by its video transfer, the Dolby Atmos mix of Back to the Future is equally as impressive. The mix contains a playful and smooth movement of sounds, such as Mayor Goldie Wilson’s van moving around Hill Valley town square and the sound of the loudspeaker moving around your soundstage. Not to mention, the audio mix contains some pinpoint accurate sound effects that hit you from all angles. The overhead effects subtly appear in the mix until it reaches the climactic ending at the clock tower. The overheads add a lot of depth and new life to this iconic scene.

Alan Silvestri’s score sounds dynamic and layered throughout the soundstage. At the same time, Huey Lewis’ iconic songs also find new life in this mix. The hi-hats and cymbals play in the rear channels while the guitar, bass, and vocals play in the front channels. Even among the chaos and music, the dialogue can still be heard clearly. The mix also FINALLY employs a bass that booms straight to your bones during the famous giant amp scene. Overall, this easily one of my favorite Atmos mixes of the year.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

Back to the Future Part II

Back to the Future Part II hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos and a core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. This review will reflect Back to the Future Part II‘s Dolby Atmos track. Alan Silvestri’s score absolutely shines in the audio mix for Part II. His score blasts through the soundstage with a great amount of depth and layers. The mix also features a lot of fun and dynamic sound — particularly in the 2015 section of the film. The overhead effects may not be as distinct as the first film, but it does expand the soundstage to further immerse the audience into the film. The dialogue still comes across clearly and accurately through the center channel. Overall, this is another fantastic audio mix from the box set.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

Back to the Future Part III

Back to the Future Part III hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos and a core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. This review will reflect Back to the Future Part III‘s Dolby Atmos track. To be fair, Back to the Future Part III is not a very dynamic film. That’s not to say you won’t find a lot of dynamic moments in the audio mix. When Marty first arrives in 1885 features some of the best use of sound placement and overhead effects in the entire trilogy. For the most part, the Atmos mix envelops you from all angles with its booming sound effects. Once again, Alan Silvestri’s score is a major highlight in this mix as his Western-inspired score blasts through the speakers with a lot of depth and clarity. Much like the other two films, the dialogue sounds clear coming through the center channel. Overall, this is another great mix.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

Back to the Future Part III - Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox

Special Features

With each anniversary release of Back to the Future comes some new features that have never been seen before. The 35th-anniversary release of Back to the Future doesn’t quite have the same quality of content as the previous two releases, but when you combine all of the special features from both the 2010 and 2015 editions, then you have hours and hours of quality content to go through.

Back to the Future

Back to the Future‘s Ultra HD Blu-ray disc has the following special features on the disc:

  • Deleted Scenes
    • Peanut Brittle
    • “Pinch Me”
    • Doc’s Personal Belongings
    • “She’s Cheating”
    • Darth Vader (Extended Version)
    • “Hit Me, George”
    • “You Got a Permit?”
    • The Phone Booth
  • Tales from the Future: In the Beginning…
  • Tales from the Future: Time to Go
  • Tales from the Future: Keeping Time
  • Archival Featurettes
    • The Making of Back to the Future
    • Making the Trilogy: Chapter One
    • Back to the Future Night
  • Michael J. Fox Q&A
  • Behind the Scenes
    • Original Makeup Tests
    • Outtakes
    • Nuclear Test Site Sequence
    • Photo Galleries
  • Huey Lewis and the News “The Power of Love” Music Video
  • Theatrical Teaser Trailer
  • Join Team Fox
  • Q&A Commentary with Director Robert Zemeckis and Producer Bob Gale
  • Feature Commentary with Producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton

The deleted scenes are all interesting to see, but let’s face it, the original Back to the Future is perfect as is. Tales from the Future is a phenomenal set of featurettes that look at several aspects of the film, from the development all the way to the release of the films. The featurette brings back EVERYBODY that is involved in the film, so it’s a must-watch for any fan of the trilogy. The archival featurettes and behind the scenes are a compendium of vintage featurettes from the various releases of the trilogy. The Michael J. Fox Q&A is a feature where Fox reminiscences about the trilogy.

Instead of your typical feature commentary, the commentary with Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale is a recorded Q&A with a moderator and audience questions. On the other hand, the commentary with Bob Gale and Neil Canton is your typical audio commentary. However, Gale admits from the get-go that the things that they say will not repeat the same stories that you’ll find in the documentaries — which is an absolute blessing. So if you want to hear in-depth filmmaking stories about the film, then be sure to watch the featurettes. If you want to hear random facts and tidbits about the film, then this is the feature commentary for you.

Special Features Rating: 4/5 atoms

Back to the Future Part II

Back to the Future Part II‘s Ultra HD Blu-ray disc has the following special features on the disc:

  • Deleted Scenes
    • Old Terry and Old Biff
    • “Dad’s Home” (Extended Version)
    • Pizza Scene (Extended Version)
    • Old Biff Vanishes from Car
    • Burned-Out High School
    • Marty Meets Dave
  • Tales from the Future: Time Flies
  • The Physics of Back to the Future with Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Archival Featurettes
    • The Making of Back to the Future Part II
    • Making the Trilogy: Chapter Two
  • Behind the Scenes
    • Production Design
    • Storyboarding
    • Designing the DeLorean
    • Designing Time Travel
    • Hoverboard Test
    • Evolution of Visual Effects Shots
    • Photo Galleries
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Q&A Commentary with Director Robert Zemeckis and Producer Bob Gale
  • Feature Commentary with Producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton

The deleted scenes are all interesting to see, but they were best left on the cutting room floor. Similar to the special features on Back to the Future‘s disc, Tales from the Future is a phenomenal featurette that looks at several aspects of Part II. Once again, the featurette brings back EVERYBODY that is involved in the film, so it’s a must-watch for any fan of the trilogy. The Physics of Back to the Future is a short feature by physicist Michio Kaku where he discusses how the films (mostly) get the science right. The archival featurettes and behind the scenes is a compendium of vintage featurettes from the various releases of the trilogy. Once again, the Q&A commentary with Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis and feature commentary with Bob Gale and Neil Canton is the same informative quality of commentary that you get with the first and third films. So if you enjoyed them, then you’ll enjoy them for the other films.

Special Features Rating: 3.5/5 atoms

Back to the Future Part III

Back to the Future Part III‘s Ultra HD Blu-ray disc has the following special features on the disc:

  • Deleted Scene
    • The Tannen Gang Kills Marshal Strickland
  • Tales from the Future: Third Time’s the Charm
  • Tales from the Future: The Test of Time
  • Archival Featurettes
    • The Making of Back to the Future Part III
    • Making the Trilogy: Chapter Three
    • The Secrets of the Back to the Future Trilogy
  • Behind the Scenes
    • Outtakes
    • Designing the Town of Hill Valley
    • Designing the Campaign
    • Photo Galleries
  • ZZ Top “Doubleback” Music Video
  • FAQs About the Trilogy
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Back to the Future: The Ride
  • Q&A Commentary with Director Robert Zemeckis and Producer Bob Gale
  • Feature Commentary with Producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton

The deleted scene is an interesting watch, but it is a bit sad to see a fan-favorite character meet his demise. Similar to the special features in the past two films, Tales from the Future is a phenomenal featurette that looks at several aspects of Part III. Like in the previous installments of Tales from the Future, the featurette brings back EVERYBODY that is involved in the film, so it’s a must-watch for any fan of the trilogy. The archival featurettes and behind the scenes is a compendium of vintage featurettes from the various releases of the trilogy. For those who have been long-time Back to the Future fans like myself, you should recognize the Kirk Cameron hosted Secrets program that aired on television and later released on VHS.

The FAQs are a text-only feature where Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale answer some of the burning questions in the trilogy. The saddest feature in this release is easily the Back to the Future: The Ride footage. The theme park ride still stands as one of my favorite rides of all-time. Reliving my childhood is a bittersweet experience. Once again, the Q&A commentary with Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis and feature commentary with Bob Gale and Neil Canton is the same informative quality of commentary that you get with the first and third films. So if you enjoyed them, then you’ll enjoy them for the other films.

Special Features Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

Bonus Disc Features

You can find the following special features on the Bonus Disc:

  • The Hollywood Museum Goes Back to the Future (NEW)
  • Back to the Future: The Musical Behind the Scenes (NEW)
    • Cast and Creative Q&A
    • “Gotta Start Somewhere”
    • “Put Your Mind to It”
  • An Alternate Future: Lost Audition Tapes (NEW)
  • Could You Survive the Movies? Back to the Future (NEW)
  • 2015 Message from Doc Brown
  • Doc Brown Saves the World!
  • Outatime: Restoring the DeLorean
  • Looking Back to the Future
    • The Script
    • Casting Marty McFly
    • Christopher Lloyd Reflects on Doc Brown
    • The DeLorean Time Machine
    • Building Hill Valley
    • Prepping for “Johnny B. Goode” Scene
    • The Score
    • Rushing the Cut
    • The Legacy
  • Back to the Future: The Animated Series
    • Brothers (Season 1, Episode 1)
    • Mac the Black (Season 2, Episode 1)
  • 2015 Commercials
    • Jaws 19 Trailer
    • Hoverboard Commercial

The Hollywood Museum feature has producer Bob Gale talking about the significance of some of the items you’ll find in the Back to the Future exhibit at the Hollywood Museum in Los Angeles. Back to the Future: The Musical is a three-part feature that takes a look at the musical adaptation. The live Q&A recording isn’t necessarily a Q&A from the creators of the musical. Instead, producer Bob Gale and Christopher Lloyd talked about their experience and history with the franchise BEFORE the musical creators and cast join the stage. The two songs from the musical are blues and rock-inspired songs that hit the fun tone of Back to the Future.

The Lost Audition Tapes is easily the most interesting new bonus feature that Universal has released yet. This feature reveals some rare audition tapes from now-famous celebrities. The auditions feature Ben Stiller as Marty McFly, Kyra Sedgwick as Jennifer Parker, Jon Cryer as Marty McFly, Billy Zane as Biff Tannen, Peter DeLuise as Biff Tannen, C. Thomas Howell as Marty McFly. The popular YouTube series, Could You Survive the Movies, explores some of the scientific inaccuracies of Back to the Future. Some of the subjects that Jake covers are the massive sound wave from the giant speaker, the Bootstrap Paradox of time travel, and surviving lightning inside the body the way Doc Brown did in 1955.D

Doc Brown Saves the World is an entertaining short that follows Doc Brown trying to save the world from a nuclear holocaust in 2045. This short is a fun way to poke fun at a lot of the objects in Back to the Future Part II that didn’t come true — objects like the hoverboard or the Nike MAG self-lacing shoes. Outatime is a 22-minute featurette that highlights the loving restoration of “Car A” a.k.a. the last remaining DeLorean car from production. Looking Back to the Future is another behind-the-scenes retrospective about the legacy of the first film. However, you’re better off watching the excellent Tales from the Future series instead of this dated featurette. The animated series is nostalgic but it can get very cheesy if you watch it from an adult’s point-of-view. Finally, the 2015 commercials are stupidly funny commercials for Jaws 19 and the hoverboard.

Special Features Rating: 3.5/5 atoms


Overall, the Back to the Future Trilogy is one of those rare franchises that has maintained its charm over the course of 35 years. Each film has its own magical element that captures the imagination of people of all ages. The video and audio are perfect and very close to reference quality. The special features are mostly holdovers from previous releases, but there are so well-produced that you won’t mind at all.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1615 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.