Back to the Future Part III

Back to the Future Part III ★★★★½

What a way to wrap up a franchise! With "Back to the Future Part III," Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, and the rest of the "Back to the Future" team return to Hill Valley one final time for a spirited piece of science fiction that not only puts a bow on established plot points and people but pushes the story into new directions and gives certain characters their own time to shine.

Beginning as a rescue mission to save Christopher Lloyd's Emmet Brown, "Back to the Future Part III" finds a way to get Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly to the American old West where he runs headlong into long passed relations and Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen. Without as many timelines to fix as in the franchise's previous chapter, Marty and Doc focus on one thing: keeping themselves alive so that one of them can get back to the future.

The story crackles with good-natured humor, a big heart, winks to the previous films, and smart use of its setting. It also provides a fresh direction for the series that, while staying true to franchise-established rhythms, allows Lloyd's Doc Brown to make the film his own.

Zemeckis builds a textured production thick with retro-futuristic designs and a dusty, full-bodied sense of place. There is a brilliant irony to setting the film in the 19th century, and it powers more than one type of romance. Adventure beats, sense of humor, genuine affection, and authentic fun weave together delightfully.

The release of "Back to the Future Part III" signaled the true end of the '80s for those raised on Lucas, Spielberg, and the cinematic purveyors of backyard adventure, and it is a fitting film to cap that era. Adventure, humor, romance, and genre-centric fun are all at work in a film that is appealingly accomplished and delightfully entertaining.

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