Travis McClain’s review published on Letterboxd:
It's been quite some time since I last watched the Back to the Future trilogy. I revisited the first movie with a friend a couple weeks ago, and tonight, reflecting the production continuity, I watched the sequels back-to-back.
Like many viewers, I originally found the bleakness of Back to the Future, Part II's middle section in alternate 1985 off-putting. I think a lot of viewers react to this movie similarly to how we react to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Their respective predecessors are significantly lighter in tone, and it's jarring to go into these second films and find such dark storytelling.
Tonight, though, while I still saw Part II as a darker, more humorless movie, I also found it more cleverly crafted. We get into some serious meta-level continuity stuff in 1955, and it's brilliantly executed. Although, I have to question worrying about how 2015 Marty and Jen would react to encountering their future selves, given how Doc Brown had already exposed them both to the affairs of time travel. Seems to me that their 2015 selves should have treated their 1985 selves with even more acceptance than 1955 Doc Brown showed 1985 Marty. Whatever.
When I revisited the first movie recently, I was especially troubled by some serious misogyny toward Lorraine - not just from Biff, the villain of the trilogy, but from George, her alleged "hero". I was relieved to find Part II (and, if I jump ahead, Part III) far less disconcerting.
Jen is disappointingly little more than a plot device rather than a character, though. I appreciated that Marty outright asked Doc why he even brought her along if he was just going to try to get her out of the way of everything, because it's the question I as a viewer had. Doc's response to Marty is meant for us: "I had to do something!" That, of course, refers to the film being trapped into having her along for the sequel because of the way the first movie ended. It's a shame that in the intervening years, when this was developed, that the choice was made to ditch Jen rather than include her.
Otherwise, though, my only real knock on Part II is that the first movie is all but mandatory viewing. Its payoffs are brilliant, but it doesn't stand well on its own.
Back to the Future, Part II Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#413/1660)
Back to the Future, Part II > Kronk's New Groove → #413
Back to the Future, Part II > Anjelah Johnson: That's How We Do It! → #413
Back to the Future, Part II > Bridesmaids → #208
Back to the Future, Part II < The Seventh Seal → #208
Back to the Future, Part II < Independence Day → #208
Back to the Future, Part II > Ernest Saves Christmas → #181
Back to the Future, Part II < Star Trek: Insurrection → #181
Back to the Future, Part II > Une femme est une femme → #174
Back to the Future, Part II > Star Trek Generations → #171
Back to the Future, Part II > Summer with Monika → #170
Back to the Future, Part II was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #170/1660