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Better than Nostradamus.
Everyone loves Back To The Future. It is the only universal truth outside the laws of physics. It’s not up for debate.
You’d also be pretty hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like Back To The Future Part II. Sure, it has its problems and both Parts II and III are considered inferior to the magnificent original. But that’s like comparing praline to Nutella – if you like one you’re bound to like the other, even if you have an obvious preference.
At the very least, it can certainly be said that anyone who has seen Part II doesn’t forget it. More specifically, they don’t forget its opening act. In what is probably the most glorious depiction of the future in any film ever – largely because it presents a fairly optimistic vision instead of the usual dystopia – director Robert Zemeckis promised us the coolest everyday gadgets in history. Flying cars! Hoverboards! Self-lacing shoes! This is what we can expect the world to look like in 2015!
Wait a second… Oh, balls. Never mind. Maybe Back To The Future Part II was lying to us after all. Or maybe it’s just plain wrong.
What’s that you say? There’s a plethora of other technologies presented in the film? And some of them have actually happened?!
Wow, this is actually quite impressive. Not only did Zemeckis & co. accurately portray gigantic, wall-mounted flat-screen televisions, they even predicted the 16:9 image ratio that’s become standard across the industry. Kubrick would be proud.
In the same scene, the TV is used to make a video call, which is actually possible with today’s Smart TVs. Since Skype broke the mould, there are now so many ways to hold a video conference (Google Chat, Face Time, etc.), it’s almost hard to imagine how audacious this idea was back in 1989. We shouldn’t give too much credit to the film, though – 2001: A Space Odyssey predicted this technology two decades earlier.
A subtle one, this. When Marty McFly demonstrates a classic 80s shoot-em-up arcade game to wee Elijah Wood, the latter responds, “You have to use your hands?” Microsoft now bundles the Kinect with every Xbox One, while Nintendo and Sony have their own motion-based gizmos for their consoles. With hands-free Virtual Reality potentially arriving next year, this is a pretty spot-on prediction from the BTTF team, made all the more prescient by not showing what 2015 consoles would actually look like. Canny film-making, that is.
We’ve already got Google Glass, SmartBands and iWatches on the way – wearable computers will be pretty much commonplace by the end of 2015. The way Marty’s kids are obsessed with the gadgets, even wearing them at the dinner table, is an almost depressingly accurate representation of how this technology will be integrated into our daily lives.
It’s a brief moment, but when a campaigner asks Marty to sign a petition, he presents a tablet for the signing. We all know how ubiquitous tablets are – and you’ve probably signed those infuriating little calculators carried by the postman, too. Nuff said.
We’ve already mentioned hoverboards and flying cars. There’s also self-drying clothes, fax machines, holographic advertising and rehydrated pizza which have no place in our reality. Okay, that last one isn’t a huge step away from microwave meals, but it’s fair to say that a lot of Part II‘s anticipations of the future weren’t on the mark, especially when it came to people’s fashion sense. The one glimmer of hope is that Nike are seriously working on those power laces…
One more thing…
Yeah, so Jaws 19 will never happen. But this cute joke at the expense of executive producer Steven Spielberg is surprisingly prophetic. How better to summarise Hollywood movies in 2015 than as a simply shameless mining of sequels and existing intellectual properties? Jurassic World, Star Wars 7, Mad Max 4, Avengers 2, Fast & Furious 7, Kung Fu Panda 3, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I… The future’s looking pretty uninspired.
With that in mind, it’s time to go back to the franchise that blessed us with so much breathless ingenuity that it still towers above its peers. Invite your friends too. Because everyone loves Back To The Future.