This week the 'Back to the Future' trilogy is being released on Blu-ray by Universal Studios Home Entertainment, and suffice it to say that it's an enormous pleasure to rewatch all three films in sterling, high-definition presentation, augmented by hours upon hours of bonus materials and background information. In the particular case of this trilogy, which was an important moment in my adolescent moviegoing experience, getting to dig through all three films via the best presentation available is sort of like scrubbing memories clean and looking at them clearly for the first time in decades. Unfortunately, that clarity also makes it entirely possible, if not inevitable, to go beyond feelings of nostalgia or youthful forgiveness and see these films for what they really are, or perhaps were.
Anyone who's been following the site for the past several weeks knows that Erik Davis, Cinematical's esteemed editor, is a huge fan of the trilogy, and has devoted no shortage of content announcing, discussing and deconstructing the films as their high-definition debut grows near. But at the risk of my continued employment under Davis' Marty-loving eye, it seemed only appropriate to take a look back and see how good "The Future" looks after some 25 years in the zeitgeist. That said, it did seem silly to try and question whether the original film was worth all of the adulation and commercial success that's been heaped on it for decades, so this week's "Shelf Life" focuses on 'Back to the Future Part II,' whose reputation is comparatively less assured.