BACK TO THE FUTURE PART III (1990) is widely regarded as the weakest film in the trilogy, which I’d agree with, but I’d never before given much thought as to why. Marty and Doc are as fun as ever, and Tom Wilson is even better here than he is in the other films, this time playing Biff and Geoff’s ancestor, Buford. And although it takes up time that I suppose might have otherwise been spent on jokes, I don’t think the problem is the introduction of Doc’s romance with Clara. Instead, it’s the setting: The second movie justified a trip to the future to deal with Marty and Jennifer’s kids, and *then* things go awry because of that trip. In-universe, Doc Brown goes to 1885 because the time machine malfunctions, but it’s fairly transparent to viewers that the real reason is “we wanted to make a western.” And to that I say, this wouldn’t be my first choice, but more power to the filmmakers for seizing an opportunity where they saw one. It’s not as inventive as the previous two films — in both narrative and humor — but Part III is still plainly a labor of love. I’m glad Gale & Zemeckis got to conclude this excellent franchise on their own terms. Please, Universal... don’t ever reboot it.
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