da3dAlus writes "The Back to the Future trilogy has probably been one of the most highly anticipated DVD releases, mainly due to the age and enduring popularity of the movies. No matter how many times the movies have been shown on TV, I guarantee that nobody has seen the Back to the Future series like this before." da3dAlus gives the Robert Zemeckis-directed trilogy a 9.8 out of 10; read the rest of his review below, as well as a warning about the transfer quality.
All 3 movies have undergone audio and video re-mastering. Audio was updated to the de-facto 5.1 digital surround, and all film was not only digitally transferred, but cleaned up and rendered crystal clear. The bonus material not only gives additional value to the DVDs, but also helps to answer numerous questions about the movies, including time travel, plot lines, and the characters themselves. My intentions here are to generally review the DVD, but not reveal any of the specific deleted scenes, for those that still want something to remain a surprise.
To begin, the movies themselves are intact, as originally shown in the theaters. Unlike recent DVD releases of 80s classics (ie. the gun-to-walkie-talkie edits in E.T.), there were no political corrections made. While this is not usually something of concern, there were TV edits made that removed "the Libyans" from the first movie, shortly after the 9-11 events. All that aside, the DVDs are a pretty standard affair, with each one being themed after the respective movies: Part 1 in the 50s, Part 2 in the future, and Part 3 in the old west.
For a DVD box set that has been over 15 years in the making, Zemeckis and team definitely deliver. This set has all that you would expect of any feature-packed DVDs, including deleted scenes, outtakes, original trailers, and behind the scenes features. The movies themselves contain additional commentaries, and an option that pops up an icon for additional production notes and factoids during viewing. Even the deleted scenes have an option for viewing with commentary by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale.
The larger behind the scenes features include a "Making of" for each of the three movies, and an overall "Making of the Trilogy" that spans all three DVDs. Among the smaller behind the scenes features are the evolution of special effects, production Q&A's, making of the DeLorean time machine, and the original discussion of the time-travel plot lines.
Among the only drawbacks I noticed were a few minor flaws in the DVD menus. While viewing the bonus material, some features returned to a pure black menu. However, the problem isn't critical, as pressing the Menu button on your DVD remote will eventually take you back to the main menu. It's just distracting to have such a flaw that appears on each of the DVDs.
Overall, I'm extremely pleased with the conversion of the movies to DVD format, and even more so with the additional material on the DVDs. Personally, I know I've had questions about what I thought were plot holes in the whole time travel theory, and Zemeckis made sure to include plenty of notes, FAQs, and Q&As to clear up any confusion, or add to it, depending on your acceptance of his answers. Bottom line: if you've ever waited for an answer to your "whys" or "what ifs" --- or if you just want to enjoy the movies as they are, then look no further than the Back to the Future trilogy.
However, hang on a second: NetGyver writes with a reason to hold off on buying this trilogy:
"The Digital Bits is reporting that the widescreen matting has been done in error on the BTTF Part II and III discs in the trilogy box set. The results very from minor to extremely irritating. Here is a side by side frame comparison between the full-screen DVDs/Laserdisc/and widescreen DVDs for you to view.
The widescreen DVD set is considered defective and Universal has an exchange program on the way where you can mail in discs II and III for replacements. But that won't roll out until late February 2003. There is no word for disc replacements for other regions besides North America, at least for now. This a fix for those who already own the widescreen DVD set. The corrected DVD batch will arrive in U.S. stores in late February according to Universal Studios."
Slashdot welcomes reader-submitted features and reviews, and thanks da3dAlus for this one.