A New Back to the Future Would Be A Terrible Idea. Why?

Why exactly would a new Back to the Future be a terrible idea? I want to state my case before a next generation of producers inevitably wrest control of the movie rights from the Bobs’ cold dead hands and craft a travesty.

Let’s ignore worst case scenarios such as the overabundance of lens flares, explosions, and whatever you dislike. Let’s look at the number one reason: Back to the Future is a tightly knit story about three characters in a small town. Take that away, make it about any other character played by any other actor and the story ceases to be Back to the Future. Change or even expand the scope of the setting and it’s not Back to the Future.

Back to the Future is about Marty, Doc, and Biff in Hill Valley. It’s about Marty and Doc’s friendship and their rivalry with Biff. No matter which generation they visited, there was always a McFly played by Michael J Fox versus a Biff played by Thomas F Wilson. (The animated series took this to a ridiculous extreme, by the way. See Tannensaurus.) That’s one big reason why it would be jarring to see the original characters/actors “pass the torch” to a next generation of characters and actors.

Speaking of the actors, it cannot be stressed enough how important they are. Remember Eric Stoltz? Apparently his performance was more serious than comedic and lacked the right chemistry with the other actors. As I said above, a different actor would mean a totally different movie. Although, it is worth noting here that Marty was played very well by AJ LoCascio in Back to the Future: The Game. Bob Gale said The Game is basically Part IV. You can even watch the full game edited to look like a new movie.

Should I amend my previous statement to say there shouldn’t be a new live action Back to the Future? Would an all CGI Back to the Future with the voices of impersonators be acceptable? Well, can you think of any live action movie with a CGI sequel that wasn’t only released on home video? The only example I can think of is Star Wars: Clone Wars, which got 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. Even with a multi-million dollar budget, the degradation from live action to CGI appeared cheap to the viewers.

Let’s check in on the opposite end of the spectrum of Star Wars CGI. Look at the late Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin recreated through CGI in the otherwise live action movie, Rogue One. Despite being done nearly perfectly and winning Rogue One the academy award for best visual effects, it still drew criticism. It was called a “digital indignity.” Was this just a small group of contrarian sensationalist bloggers writing outrage pieces for controversy and views? I personally didn’t have a problem with it. He was only a minor character after all. Might this grow more acceptable as time goes on? Or is it more likely expanding this technique to an entire main cast of long dead actors will leave a bad taste in everyone’s collective mouth?

I will entertain the idea of playing devil’s advocate here and say it is possible to create a new Back to the Future that’s actually good, though it’s a very slim chance. There’s a lot that could go wrong and it’s not worth taking the chance if you’re a mythical producer more concerned with quality than with profits.

So where does that leave us fans that want more? I’m reminded of the old 1990 special, The Secrets of Back to the Future, where a kid asks Kirk Cameron, “Is there going to be a Back to the Future Part Four?” Cameron says it doesn’t look likely, but Back to the Future will always live on in Back to the Future: The Ride. That line was quietly edited out in future releases after The Ride was removed from Universal Studios.

You won’t find a new movie (or a new ride) but fortunately there is a whole series of Back to the Future media out there written by Bob Gale. As I mentioned above, there’s Back to the Future: The Game. Then there are the comics.

Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines is like a prequel anthology, showing past events such as how Marty and Doc met and Biff fighting a dinosaur. Continuum Conundrum is a sequel to the trilogy with a new quick adventure. Then Citizen Brown explores the alternate timeline created in Back to the Future: The Game. More comics are still being made.

Despite their quality, the game and comics don’t compare to the trilogy. The timeless classics ended at the right moment, like Seinfeld and Calvin and Hobbes, before they went downhill. Imagine if Back to the Future kept going and became somewhere between mediocre and terrible, like The Simpsons. (Then again of course, if Back to the Future were more like The Simpsons there would be no need to replace Back to the Future: The Ride with The Simpsons Ride.)

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