Category Archives: LBoM: Editorials

Why I Miss VHS Rental Stores

To paraphrase Madonna.

“We are living in a digital world. And I am a digital girl…or boy.”

Quite honestly, I think the digital age of media that we are living in is amazing. Any and everything we want/need at the click of a button and most of the time we never have to leave our nice, soft and comfy sofas. Then if we do need to leave the comforting warmth of our homes, we can just download media to our mobile devices to enjoy on the move. Movies, TV shows, music and games, we have everything we need for hours upon hours of entertainment. Just give me a beer (or seven), my smart TV/Xbox and I’m good for a few days – happy as a pig in…well you know.

The convenience of the digital age, the speed and sheer variety of things we can watch/play is astonishing. You’ve got yer Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play and many others. All services that offer all the movies and so much more besides at the touch of a button. But I want to take you back to the dark ages, before digital media and to an age when we actually had to leave the house if we wanted to watch a film at home. The age of the VHS rental shops.

Blockbuster

Now, I’m from England and yes we had the likes of Blockbuster Video over here too, they were everywhere at one point. Blockbuster were the kings of VHS rentals, love em’ or hate em’, you can’t deny they were the best of the best until their inevitable downfall. But I don’t want to talk about a giant store like Blockbuster or their fall from grace, I want to cover those smaller, independent rental shops. Those tucked away, grubby, sticky floored, stale popcorn selling shops that us older generation went to before Blockbuster became king. I also want to try and paint a picture with words (and a few pictures) to show just how great these places were and try to explain just why I miss them so.

A nice little history lesson for those too young to remember or know the excitement of VHS rentals or even a trip down memory lane for those old enough to remember/care and who miss the whole rental experience as I do.

My Memories

My local VHS rental place was in Kings Norton, Birmingham – where I grew up in the 80s. It was just opposite The Navigation Inn on Pershore Road. Can’t remember what it was called, but they all had generic names like Bob’s Rentals or VHS Village, etc. They were never impressive places, often dully lit, stains on the carpet and had that weird/hard to place smell. They were grim places and yet, they were the highlight of the week at the same time.

VHS Store

Yeah, they looked like that, complete with carpet stains and dozens of movie posters plastered everywhere. The VHS rental visit would always be on a Friday night after school and this was something you looked forward to from Monday morning onward. Spending all week during break-times between classes chatting to your school friends about the films you watched over the weekend, swapping stories, film suggestions, talking about the trailers you saw. Sometimes even during class if and when you got bored.

Those five days from Monday to Friday seemed to go on forever and ever. Then, Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm, the school bell would ring and it was the sweetest sound you’d hear all week. School was done and what lay in wait was two days of watching movies, just hours away and that weekly trip to Terry’s Tapes (or whatever it was called) was on the horizon. But first, homework, something to eat and tidy your room just to build that an-tici-pation. Once all the annoying time wasting stuff was out of the way sometime after 5 pm, it was VHS rental time.

VHS Village

As you’d make your way to the shop, you’d be thinking about the films you wanted to watch and remember the ones you and your friends were talking about at school over the last several days, looking forward to the posters you might see hanging in the window or stuck to the walls via Blu-Tack. Then before you knew it, you were there, standing outside the door of the shop and just like Father Merrin standing outside the MacNeil house, you’d stop, look at the windows and pause just staring at the shop in wonderment.

The Exorsict

After the pause, you’d eagerly push open the door while your eyes darted between the many posters on display and that smell would hit your nostrils. That stale, stagnant odour only independent VHS rental shops had and one I’ve not smelt for decades. It was a strange mix of body odour, the plastic of the VHS boxes, cigarette smoke (as people could still light up indoors back then), finished off with whatever the hell was staining the carpet. And trust me when I say that the distinct aroma was even worse during the summer. Then you stepped inside and you were finally there. The annoyances and frustrations of a hard week at school just melted away – had a painful and laborious double science class on Wednesday? Fugetaboutit. You were standing right in the middle of your own personal nirvana and loving every single second of it.

Four of your five senses kicked into overdrive. Your sight was almost blinded by the images on the posters and the rows upon rows of VHS boxes. Your hearing bombarded with the sounds of films and trailers being played on the 12 inch TV resting on the shop counter. Your smell took in every last whiff of that horrible, yet familiar odour. While your touch was put into practice as you held and caressed the VHS cases as you browsed the impressive collection. Your fifth sense, taste, would just have to wait until later when you bought some of that out of date Toffee Butterkist sitting in a wire basket/shelf near the counter as no one ever bothered checked the use by date.

Merrily making your way through the labyrinthine rows of VHS tapes and heading straight to the horror section that was always at the back of the shop, away from the front door and windows. Not necessarily because you wanted to rent a horror film (though you mainly did), but because you knew that the very top row of the highest shelf of the horror section was where the shop owner always kept the ‘discrete’ porn section (we didn’t hide our VHS porn behind a curtain in England). You’d intensely look at the wide array of horror film covers as you walked back and forth along the horror section pretending to be really, really interested in Hellraiser, Demons, Dawn Of The Dead, etc –  but then quickly flit your gaze upwards toward that top shelf in a vein attempt to catch a glimpse of some Russ Meyer movie cover, maybe a little side boob or censored nipple as this was the equivalent of hardcore porn of today to a 14 year old in the 1980s.

ELECTRIC BLUE VHS

Your hands were at the point of breaking into a clammy sweat as you picked up the numerous empty VHS boxes and your eyes soaked up in every little detail of the cover art. Awesome box art like; The TerminatorMad MaxHighlanderBig Trouble in Little China as well as numerous others – images that still bring a smile to your face even today. You’d flip the empty box over and read the synopsis, see who was in the film and look at the tiny screen caps as you thought about renting the tape out. But even though you were browsing…you already knew what films you wanted rent. One of them was always the holy grail of VHS rentals in the 80s – Back to the Future. Even though you saw it seven times at the cinema, you wanted to watch it again at home, but every time you tried to rent it, all copies were already out as the shop only had two tapes and the waiting list was around seven to eight weeks. Still, you’d always ask anyway in case someone brought it back early...they never did.

Back To The Future VHS

So you’d pick your three or four films for the weekend, one of which would probably be Raiders of the Lost Ark for the eighth time that year (and it was only March). Taking your arm-full of empty boxes to the counter and picking up a couple of bags of that several months out of date Toffee Butterkist too, the shop owner would ask for your membership card despite the fact you’ve been going in every Friday night like clockwork for the last five years and he knows you by name and your address better than you do. As the server frantically searched the wall of VHS tapes behind the counter for your chosen rentals, you would glace over at that 12 inch TV most probably showing a trailer for Death Wish 3 or maybe Breakin‘ 2Electric Boogaloo. That’s when you’d notice the ex-rental basket where older VHS tapes were being sold off cheap so you could own them yourself. I still remember buying the Making Michael Jackson’s Thriller tape for 75p…bargain.

If you were lucky, if you were a regular and if the owner liked you, then they may let you rent one for free or even better…the behind the counter stuff, the banned or fully uncut versions of The Evil Dead or The Exorcist that were not readily availableYou see, in the 80s here in England, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) went a little mad and created the infamous video nasty list. Where a lot of (mainly) horror films were either cut to shreds and censored to the point of being unwatchable or they were just outright banned. So getting to see these films in tact in the 80s was an even more sought after holly grail than a VHS copy of Back to the Future. You didn’t know how he got these films and didn’t care either. All I knew and cared about was that I got to see a fully uncut version of The Evil Dead in 1984, which (if you know anything about the infamy this film had in England at the time) was simply impossible. Still, ask no questions, tell no lies. There were no real age-checks back then, no ID required as long as you were not renting out porn, everything else was fair game if you had the membership card. Yeah blood soaked violence, horror and swearing were okay but nudity and sex? That was a major taboo. You may have been only fourteen years old but if you wanted to rent out John Carpenter’s The Thing…okay. I quite honestly think I saw more horror films as an underage teenager in the 80s via my local VHS store than when I was legally allowed to and after becoming an adult.

Then after paying for your rentals, the guy behind the counter would thrust your chosen VHS tapes into a plastic bag with that not at its best Butterkist and hand it to you along with your by now very used, slightly torn and curled at the edges membership card. Then you’d step out of that odorous, stuffy VHS rental shop into the fresh air which provided an instant hit like no other legal high could manage, that smell of freshness that indicated it was almost movie time.

VHS Player.jpg

Hurrying home and thrusting your rented VHS tapes into that monster of a top-loader player (about the size of 4 Xbox One consoles combined…and I don’t mean the slim version). The loud mechanisms and servo motors would whirl into action as the top loading tape-tray eagerly swallowed the VHS tape and digested it. You’d have to adjust the tracking (look it up), sit through direct to VHS trailers of so bad they’re good action films that most probably starred Chuck Norris and were produced by Cannon Films. Movies that most people have long forgotten about or secretly still admire to this day, those guilty pleasures all us VHS enthusiasts love to watch but don’t tell anyone about, like the Missing In Action trilogy. Then the main event began, the film(s) you have waited all week to watch. You rented out Best Defense only because Eddie Murphy was on the cover and he was the big comedy star of the 80s. Yeah the film was terrible…but you still enjoyed it, not because of the film itself but because of the entire experience of choosing the film previously and an experience you couldn’t wait to repeat the following weekend.

Then after the weekend of watching films. One of which was probably Raiders of the Lost Ark…again, while eating that stale Toffee Butterkist. You’d go back to school on Monday morning to tell your friends about the films you’d watched over the weekend, swapping stories, film suggestions, talking about the trailers you watched, etc and restart the whole cycle once more as that five day countdown to Friday and 3:30 pm began again.


 

That, all of that is what I miss about VHS rentals. Yes, I do love and very much appreciate the digital age…but we have lot something very special to make way for it. We have pretty much any movie at the touch of a button now, we don’t have to worry about something not being in stock as its always going to be there and with that, we have lost the anticipation and excitement of getting your hands on the film you really want to watch. We no longer get to explore cover art, flip the box over, read the synopsis and soak up those movie stills, etc. We now just click on download/stream and instantly have whatever we want. Convenient? Yes. As enjoyable? Not at all.

RIP VHS

R.I.P VHS rental stores. I for one miss you.

 

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From Page To Screen: Die Hard

Today is the 15th of July, my birthday. But despite marking me getting older, this day is important for another reason too. Thirty years ago today and Die Hard was given its official cinematic release. Admittedly, it had its premier on the 12th but it was given a public release on the 15th of July 1988. So yippee ki-yay mother fuckers – Die Hard is thirty years old today.

Die Hard 30th

I have been doing a few Die Hard related articles through the year to celebrate three decades of arguably the greatest action/thriller movie ever from quick nods and references to dedicated articles for the film itself (with more to come later). Today I’m going to try my hand at something different and an idea I have wanted to do for a while now – take a look at the novel that inspired the film and bring up some of the differences. This isn’t to compare the two mediums at all or try to work out which one is “better”, I love both the book and movie for different reasons. No, I just aim to go through the two and bring up the changes (big and small) made from page to film. I have a fair few of these I’d like to do in the future but I think to celebrate 30 years of one of the greatest action/thrillers ever, that Die Hard is a fantastic place to begin this (hopefully) new feature.

So I guess I’d better crack on. But before I do, I will offer my usual SPOILERS warning for both the movie and book from this point on. If you have never read the book, then I strongly suggest you do as it is awesome and offers quite a few surprises even if you know the film inside out.

Die Hard Book.jpg

Yup that is me holding my very own copy of Die Hard the novel…except it wasn’t originally called Die Hard. What I have is a reprint released after the success of the film. Which brings us to the first notable difference. The title. The novel was originally released in 1979 by author Roderick Thorp and was called Nothing Lasts Forever (sounds like a James Bond flick to me) and NLF was even a sequel to Thorp’s own novel, The Detective from 1966.

In DH, the main character played by Bruce Willis is called John McClane. In the book though he is called Joseph Leland. There are other differences to the characters than just their names too. John is a young-ish but experienced New York cop with a witty almost sarcastic attitude (“No fucking shit lady, do I sound like I’m ordering a pizza!”) and problems with authority figures. Joseph however is an older, more grizzled and weary character and now retired from the police force. His attitude seemingly comes from his many years as a cop, some of which are from the previous book along with his time serving as a fighter pilot during World War II. This man has seen his fair share of death already and is vastly different to the upbeat and wisecracking John McClane from the flick.

John McClane

When we first meet John in the film, he is on a plane from New York and just landed in L.A. on his way to meet his estranged wife, Holly at a Christmas party held at her work place of Nakatomi Plaza. Joseph’s introduction is a little different – though the scenario is similar. We meet him in the book as he rides in a taxi on his way to the airport to catch a plane to L.A. There’s some issues with traffic and Joseph brandishes his gun – showing his short temper and bitter anger very early on. He is flying to L.A. to meet up with Stephanie Gennaro, his only child who works for the Klaxon Oil company to celebrate the closing of a huge multi-million dollar deal on Christmas Eve. The relationship between father and daughter has been strained since the death of Joseph’s wife (Stephanie’s mother) eight years previously.

At the building in DH, John quickly scopes the place out before meeting Harry Ellis, the sleazy executive with a penchant for cocaine, who has eyes for Holly – John doesn’t much like him. This is similar in the book too as Joseph does pretty much the same, checking out the Klaxon building on his arrival. He also gets to meet Harry Ellis who is also a sleazy executive with a penchant for cocaine. However, in NLF Harry is actually sleeping with Stephanie which Joseph instantly takes a disliking to. DH also features Joseph Takagi, Holly’s boss and head executive of Nakatomi. A character John seems to like during their brief introduction. NLF also has a boss character called Mr. Rivers as the president of Klaxon Oil. Its made pretty clear in the book that Joseph really doesn’t like Rivers at all and sees him as trouble and a bad influence for his daughter and thinks she is becoming just like these coke snorting assholes she is working with. There is the very expensive watch in both too. In DH, its a gift to Holly from her boss for helping to close a big deal. In NLF, the watch was bought buy Stephanie herself and this tiny detail is important, later…

Ellis

The film and book pretty much follow the exact same plot form this point onward. In DH, John is separated from the party as he cleans himself up after his flight. He’s making fists with his toes as the terrorists strike and John hears gunfire. As all hell breaks loose, John manages to slip away from the main action avoiding being rounded up with the other hostages, barefoot and with only his service pistol for backup. Joseph in NLF pretty much does the exact same thing. Its here in the flick when we get to meet one of the greatest cinematic villains ever. Hans Gruber, played flawlessly by the great Alan Rickman. Hans is slick, charismatic, well educated and highly intelligent. In NLF, the main villain is Anton “Little Tony The Red” Gruber. They are pretty similar in their personalities but I guess the main difference between Hans and Anton is their goal. In DH, Hans uses a facade of a terrorist attack to steal $640 million in bearer bonds from the vaults of Nakatomi Plaza. But in NLF, there is no facade. Anton and his cohorts are real terrorists and are there to take on Klaxon Oil over the very deal Stephanie and her colleagues are celebrating. You see, Klaxon Oil have been dealing with Chile’s junta and Anton plans to steal documents that he will use to publicly expose Klaxon Oil for all their corruption.

Nakatomi Plaza.jpg

Once the action kicks into gear, there aren’t too many notable differences. In fact some of the iconic action sequences from DH are lifted verbatim from NLF.  The killing of the first terrorist is the same including the broken neck along with the undignified trip in an elevator while wearing the “Now I have a machine gun” sweatshirt. Only in the book the message reads “Now we have a machine gun”. Its a subtle change for sure, but its also one worth mentioning as it shows Joseph’s line of thinking and how he is playing mind games with the terrorists by tricking them into thinking there is more than one of him running around the building. The elevator shaft escape while being hunted down, getting trapped in the air ducts, etc. All in both the movie and the book. As are the throwing a dead terrorist out of the building to get the attention of the police, strapping C-4 to a chair and using it to stop the terrorists from killing the police all from the book. Think of a major action sequence in the film and you’ll find it on the page.

There is even a Sergeant Al Powell who John/Joseph communicates with throughout the story. But where Al in the movie is a older, experienced cop – in the book he’s in his early 20s and with much less experience under his belt. Yet they both serve the same purpose in both the film and book and this it to keep John/Joseph as clam and sane as they can through the whole ordeal. There’s also a Deputy Chief Dwayne Robinson in both the picture and the novel and yes, they are both complete assholes too who think of John/Joseph as doing more harm than good. I guess its also worth noting that earlier in the book as he was flying to L.A., Joseph made friends with a stewardess named Kathi who he manages to talk to several times through the book.

Powell

More of the same with John/Joseph listening in and feeling helpless as Hans/Anton kills Harry Ellis over the matter of getting his detonators back. Only the book makes it much more clear that Joseph feels responsible for the death although there was nothing he could’ve done. Yes even the fire-hose/exploding roof jump escape is in both the movie and book. So is the psychical damage done to John/Joseph as they both get beaten and bloody throughout – though in my opinion, I feel the book does a far better job of detailing and getting across just how much physical abuse Joseph goes through in the novel over John in the film. Some of the descriptions in the novel vastly outweigh anything John suffers in the film.

A big difference between film and the book is that the novel is told pretty much always from the point of view of Joseph Leland. In the film we get to see several scenes that follow and detail what Hans and the boys are up to, what the police are doing while John runs around Nakatomi Plaza. The book doesn’t really do any of that and we only learn what the terrorists are doing if and when Joseph sees or hears it. There are also times when Joseph thinks back to his World War II days and some of the horrors he witnessed that shaped him to be the troubled and and bitter but tough retired cop he now is. Overall, Joseph is given a much more detailed backstory in the book over John in the film.

Now for the ending and once more, I will issue another SPOILER warning here as the books ending is similar but also very different to the movie. Its well worth experiencing as a first time reader rather than have it ruined for you here. Read on at your own peril.

Hans Fall

DH has one of the most iconic and satisfying endings in action cinema. The way John’s quick thinking with some seasonal sellotape and only two rounds of ammo is a joy to watch. The image of Hans falling backward out of the window while still holding the watch enveloped wrist of Holly, slowly pulling her to her possible death – only for John to save his wife at the last second by unfastening the watch. The ending of NLF is similar as Joseph finds himself is much the same situation. Yes he has his gun taped to his back to as he faces Anton “Little Tony The Red” Gruber who is using Joseph’s daughter, Stephanie as human shield.

Things don’t exactly go the same way though for Joseph in the book as they did for John in the movie. Anton manages to shoot Stephanie in the gut just as Joseph empties his gun into Anton. As he falls out of the window, Anton manages to grab Stephanie’s watch…you know the one she bought for herself to celebrate the big deal Klaxon Oil signed off on and the very reason Anton and his cohorts turned up at the Christmas party to begin with. Anton begins to fall to his inevitable death dragging Joseph’s only child, Stephanie with him and they both fall from the Klaxon Oil building before Joseph can react. Yes, they kill off the girl and its pretty shocking too knowing the ending to DH. Joseph snaps and hunts down the rest of the terrorists, he finds an unarmed female member of Anton’s group who is trying to surrender and kills her in cold blood by shooting her in the head out of anger. Its pretty brutal stuff.

Joseph then discovers some corporate documents that detail everything Klaxon Oil had been doing including arms deals with the Chilean junta. Illegal deals that Stephanie was fully compliant with. This is why the little detail of who bought the watch is very important. In DH, the watch is a gift to Holly from her boss to celebrate her helping to close a big deal. In NLF though is was Stephanie who bought the watch for herself to celebrate closing a shady deal between Klaxon and the Chilean junta, shady and illegal deals she was directly involved in and the very reason Anton launched the terrorist attack to begin with. Its this point in the book when it hits you that the terrorists were the good guys and Stephanie’s death via her own greed of the watch is pretty damn justified. If she hand’t gotten involved in all the illegal activity at Klaxon Oil, if she hadn’t bought that watch – then she would’ve lived.

Of course there is still the little stinger at the very end that needs looking at. In DH, John and Holly get out of the building and our hero sees Al Powell for the first time after spending a big chunk of the movie talking to him via a walkie-talkie. They share that look of respect and admiration without a word spoken now all the terrorists are dead. But then Karl, a previously believed dead terrorist appears, bloody and beaten. He aims a gun squarely at the unarmed John. Al opens fire killing Karl where he stands. John and Holly drive off into the sunrise as the credits roll while Vaughn Monroe belts out “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” Classic.

Karl

That stinger is in the book too, only it plays out a little differently. Joseph emerges from the Klaxon building, he’s tired, bloody and now his only child is dead – he’s a completely broken man lost in his own madness and anger. Karl appears just as he does in the film, only he sprays the gathered crowd outside the building with automatic gunfire killing plenty of people, mainly reporters who have surrounded Joseph trying to get an interview. People die…lots of people as Karl tries to shoot Joseph. He does manage to shoot our hero in the leg and would have finished the job too but for a rather shocking moment where Al Powell grabs hold of Deputy Chief Dwayne Robinson and forces him in the line of fire and Dwayne is mortally shot…Al kills Dwayne, yeah he was an asshole but still, fucking hell! Al then kills Karl by shooting him in the head. Joseph is taken away in an ambulance as he lies an the gurney a broken man who has lost everything. The end.


Die Hard Vent.jpg

So there you have it some (not all) of the differences between Die Hard and the novel it is based on, Nothing Lasts Forever. As I said at the start, I haven’t written this to decide which is best –  I love them both but for very different reasons. Like most, I saw the flick before I read the book and while they are both very similar in the basic plot, there are still many changes between the two that I feel make both investing some time in.

I enjoy Die Hard for its everyday guy against the odds story. The character of John McClane is an utterly charming and engrossing one. The ending is rousing and uplifting. Then there is Nothing Lasts Forever. Which I see as the darker, negative mirror image of Die Hard. Joseph Leland is a cantankerous, rougher and older character. Killing off his daughter is a ballsy move but one that pays off when you realise she is really one of the bad guys through the illegal deals of the Klaxon Oil company she works for. The realisation that the terrorists are really the good guys is a brilliant twist and when you think about it, if Joseph had done nothing and was taken away with the rest of the hostages…then no one would’ve died including his daughter and the dodgy, illegal deals that Klaxon were involved in would have been revealed. Really, Joseph fucked everything up…he’s the bad guy.

I really enjoyed looking at these differences between book and movie and will do more in the future. Now where did I put my The Crow graphic novel?

I Have A Strange Feeling Of Déjà Vu

Have you ever watched a film and thought you’d seen it before even though it’s your first time seeing it?

Yeah its a strange question for sure, but I have just had that feeling. I only recently watched Ready Player One and all through the film, something was niggling away at the back of my head. The overload of 80s nostalgia and video game references were not enough to distract me from the fact the overall plot was similar to another film. A film where five kids enter a world of wonder and amusement, a world that co-exists along with the real world…”a world of pure imagination” one could say.

Ready Player One.jpg

So quick synopsis for Ready Player One. A poor and underprivileged kid enters a contest to out-right win an entire multi-million dollar company. Along the way he meets four other kids all wanting the same prize. The five meet in a world called The Oasis, a world like no other crafted by an eccentric individual who is a genius video game programmer that creates tests for those who enter. Solve/survive the tests and inherit the whole company.

Does any of this sound familiar? What if instead of a computer generated world it was a chocolate factory and instead the eccentric individual being a computer genius he was a confectionery one? Well you’d have Charlie/Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Now I’m not saying the are the exact same film…but they are strikingly similar in various ways. Both films feature a poverty stricken main character, both are about escapism, both have an isolated and eccentric genius behind the company, both films revolve around testing the protagonist for them to claim their prize and so on.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

You know what, I have more too…

The Lego Movie

This film was much more fun that I thought it would be. A kids film adults can enjoy just as much if not more so.

The LEGO Movie

The plot is about a loner main character who meets a mysterious girl dressed in black. This girl introduces our hero to all sorts of surprising secrets including a whole other world our hero is not fully aware of. He gets questioned by the authorities, but the hero is rescued by the girl in black and he is then introduced to a male character who yaks on about some kind of a prophecy. As it turns out, the hero character is destined to be “The One” from the prophecy. The obligatory training begins to ready the chosen one for his unavoidable destiny. During an action scene where it turns out the hero has been tracked, the authorities turn up and take hostages. The hero comes up with a plan to save the hostages that are held in a skyscraper. The hostages are being tortured via some kind of brain thing to extract information from them. Near the end, the hero ‘dies’ only he’s not really dead and comes back stronger than before and takes on the bad guys to win fulling the prophecy after which the hero and girl in black fall in love.

The MAtrix

Cracking flick, but remove the kid friendly angle and aim it toward a more adult audience and well, you have The Matrix. Yes, The Lego Movie is a more kid friendly take on The Matrix.

The Terminator

One of the finest Sci-Fi films ever made. The right blend of action, thriller and even horror…yes horror.

The Terminator

This film tells the tale of an unaware female being stalked by a killer who is not all he appears to be. But before we get to that, the killer steals someone’s clothing before stealing a car and heading into town to find his victim. The killer stops off at a store to stock up on weapons. The female lead is helped along the way by a male character who is mainly there for exposition while wearing a trench-coat. Our female lead has a friend who suggests the lead needs to live a little and let her hair down and strangely enough this friend is killed off pretty quickly. The trench-coat wearing male tries telling the cops all about what is going on but they don’t believe his story.  Eventually, the killer discovers where the girl is and the stalking continues. It all builds to a showdown in a building where the trench-coat wearing dude seems to kill the killer…only for the killer to not really be dead.

Halloween

So lets just ignore the whole time traveling details of The Terminator for a second and you have a slasher horror film here, one we have seen before. Its Halloween isn’t it? The Terminator is a Sci-Fi spin on John Carpenter’s Halloween.

Interstellar

One of Christopher Nolan’s better pictures and shows what he can really do when he just copies another film.

Interstellar

So this one takes place in the future (from when the film was made) and is about a discovery of a big black thing in space. A board of suits get together and decide the big black thing needs investigating. So a team of astronauts are sent up into space to research and learn what this big black thing really is. The main character starts to feel homesick and tends to stay up late missing his family. The ship they are on has a super advanced A.I computer. Our main guy decides to get close to the big black thing which opens some kind of portal our hero enters. On the other side, he finds himself in a strange room looking at himself at another point in time. He eventually finds a way out that leads him to floating around in space.

2001 A Space Odyssey

So what we have here is a take on another Sci-Fi classic. A more lavish and emotional story I admit but still pretty much the same film as 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

This sequel to the smash hit original owes quite a lot to a certain other monster movie.

Jurassic PArk 2

A team of experts head out to a mysterious island in the middle of nowhere to document the life found there. This island is inhabited by numerous vicious creatures and the experts end up trapped on said island where they soon find themselves having to fight for their lives. Numerous chases and action sequences ensue but eventually they capture one of the bigger animals found on the island which is then transported via boat to a major American city. The enraged creature manages to escape and run amok around the city causing great fear and destruction along the way.

King Kong

The only thing that is missing here is the weird love story between a giant monster and female lead, cos what you have here is King Kong (any version).

Jurassic Park

Oh I’m not done with those damn dinosaurs yet, even the original film was not that original.

Jurassic Park

So here we have the basic concept of taking a theme park to a whole new level. A hugely successful company open an all new theme park with the major attraction allowing people to experience a time long lost in history they never otherwise would get the chance to visit and live through. Only things do not go according to plan as the main attractions turn on the visitors and the very people who created them. People die as the very things created to entertain turn to murder and the humans are left fighting to survive and escape the park that has gone haywire.

Westworld

So this one kind of gets a free pass seeing as the two movies were both written by the same person, Michael Crichton. But Jurassic Park is an updated version of Westworld.

Independence Day

Yeah I know its cheesy but I really enjoy this flick…the sequel, not so much.

Independence Day

Aliens come from somewhere (maybe Mars?) and strategically place themselves all over the planet. Have they come in peace? Well no as they then destroy famous monuments and buildings along with thousands upon thousands of lives. We Earthlings put up a bit of a fight but it soon becomes clear that these aliens are far to advanced and powerful, the planet is doomed…that is until the aliens become infected with a (computer) virus. They begin to die out and Earth is saved.

The War of the Worlds

I know invading aliens is hardly an original idea but how they were taken out with a virus? H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds was clearly the inspiration behind this one.


 

Have you ever watched a film and thought you’ve seen it before even though it’s your first time seeing it?

Yeah its a strange question for sure, but I have just had that feeling. I only recently watched Ready Player One and all through the film, something was niggling away at the back of my head. The overload of 80s nostalgia and video game references were not enough to distract me from the fact the overall plot was similar to another film. A film where five kids enter a world of wonder and amusement, a world that co-exists along with the real world…”a world of pure imagination” one could say.

Ready Player One.jpg

So quick synopsis for Ready Player One. A poor and underprivileged kid enters a contest to out-right win an entire multi-million dollar company. Along the way he meets four other kids all wanting the same prize. The five meet in a world called The Oasis, a world like no other crafted by an eccentric individual who is a genius video game programmer that creates tests for those who enter. Solve/survive the tests and inherit the whole company.

Does any of this sound familiar? What if instead of a computer generated world it was a chocolate factory and instead the eccentric individual being a computer genius he was a confectionery one? Well you’d have Charlie/Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Now I’m not saying the are the exact same film…but they are strikingly similar in various ways. Both films feature a poverty stricken main character, both are about escapism, both have an isolated and eccentric genius behind the company, both films revolve around testing the protagonist for them to claim their prize and so on.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

You know what, I have more too…

The Lego Movie

This film was much more fun that I thought it would be. A kids film adults can enjoy just as much if not more so.

The LEGO Movie

The plot is about a loner main character who meets a mysterious girl dressed in black. This girl introduces our hero to all sorts of surprising secrets including a whole other world our hero is not fully aware of. He gets questioned by the authorities, but the hero is rescued by the girl in black and he is then introduced to a male character who yaks on about some kind of a prophecy. As it turns out, the hero character is destined to be “The One” from the prophecy. The obligatory training begins to ready the chosen one for his unavoidable destiny. During an action scene where it turns out the hero has been tracked, the authorities turn up and take hostages. The hero comes up with a plan to save the hostages that are held in a skyscraper. The hostages are being tortured via some kind of brain thing to extract information from them. Near the end, the hero ‘dies’ only he’s not really dead and comes back stronger than before and takes on the bad guys to win fulling the prophecy after which the hero and girl in black fall in love.

The MAtrix

Cracking flick, but remove the kid friendly angle and aim it toward a more adult audience and well, you have The Matrix. Yes, The Lego Movie is a more kid friendly take on The Matrix.

The Terminator

One of the finest Sci-Fi films ever made. The right blend of action, thriller and even horror…yes horror.

The Terminator

This film tells the tale of an unaware female being stalked by a killer who is not all he appears to be. But before we get to that, the killer steals someone’s clothing before stealing a car and heading into town to find his victim. The killer stops off at a store to stock up on weapons. The female lead is helped along the way by a male character who is mainly there for exposition while wearing a trench-coat. Our female lead has a friend who suggests the lead needs to live a little and let her hair down and strangely enough this friend is killed off pretty quickly. The trench-coat wearing male tries telling the cops all about what is going on but they don’t believe his story.  Eventually, the killer discovers where the girl is and the stalking continues. It all builds to a showdown in a building where the trench-coat wearing dude seems to kill the killer…only for the killer to not really be dead.

Halloween

So lets just ignore the whole time traveling details of The Terminator for a second and you have a slasher horror film here, one we have seen before. Its Halloween isn’t it? The Terminator is a Sci-Fi spin on John Carpenter’s Halloween.

Interstellar

One of Christopher Nolan’s better pictures and shows what he can really do when he just copies another film.

Interstellar

So this one takes place in the future (from when the film was made) and is about a discovery of a big black thing in space. A board of suits get together and decide the big black thing needs investigating. So a team of astronauts are sent up into space to research and learn what this big black thing really is. The main character starts to feel homesick and tends to stay up late missing his family. The ship they are on has a super advanced A.I computer. Our main guy decides to get close to the big black thing which opens some kind of portal our hero enters. On the other side, he finds himself in a strange room looking at himself at another point in time. He eventually finds a way out that leads him to floating around in space.

2001 A Space Odyssey

So what we have here is a take on another Sci-Fi classic. A more lavish and emotional story I admit but still pretty much the same film as 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

This sequel to the smash hit original owes quite a lot to a certain other monster movie.

Jurassic PArk 2

A team of experts head out to a mysterious island in the middle of nowhere to document the life found there. This island is inhabited by numerous vicious creatures and the experts end up trapped on said island where they soon find themselves having to fight for their lives. Numerous chases and action sequences ensue but eventually they capture one of the bigger animals found on the island which is then transported via boat to a major American city. The enraged creature manages to escape and run amok around the city causing great fear and destruction along the way.

King Kong

The only thing that is missing here is the weird love story between a giant monster and female lead, cos what you have here is King Kong (any version).

Jurassic Park

Oh I’m not done with those damn dinosaurs yet, even the original film was not that original.

Jurassic Park

So here we have the basic concept of taking a theme park to a whole new level. A hugely successful company open an all new theme park with the major attraction allowing people to experience a time long lost in history they never otherwise would get the chance to visit and live through. Only things do not go according to plan as the main attractions turn on the visitors and the very people who created them. People die as the very things created to entertain turn to murder and the humans are left fighting to survive and escape the park that has gone haywire.

Westworld

So this one kind of gets a free pass seeing as the two movies were both written by the same person, Michael Crichton. But Jurassic Park is an updated version of Westworld.

Independence Day

Yeah I know its cheesy but I really enjoy this flick…the sequel, not so much.

Independence Day

Aliens come from somewhere (maybe Mars?) and strategically place themselves all over the planet. Have they come in peace? Well no as they then destroy famous monuments and buildings along with thousands upon thousands of lives. We Earthlings put up a bit of a fight but it soon becomes clear that these aliens are far to advanced and powerful, the planet is doomed…that is until the aliens become infected with a (computer) virus. They begin to die out and Earth is saved.

The War of the Worlds

I know invading aliens is hardly an original idea but how they were taken out with a virus? H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds was clearly the inspiration behind this one.

Killing Off A Superhero, Why Bother?

Before I even get into this one – there will be major SPOILERS for Avengers: Infinity War (and others) so If you’ve not seen it yet then stop reading now. Go watch the flick and then come back and read my rant…you have been warned.

Infinty War.jpg

Killing off a much loved character is always a gamble and when it comes to superheros, that gamble is tenfold. Avengers: Infinity War kills off a lot of characters…a lot. But before I get to that, I want to take a look at a certain other superhero death to put the point across as to why that superhero deaths are a lack of surprise.

Batman v Superman logo

Yes, I’m going to got into the deep, dark and depressing depths of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Such a fucking awful flick in which they kill off Superman at the end…except they really don’t. This whole thing was just such a cop out and pretty much anyone who saw it came out angry even if they enjoyed the film. The main reason for this is first, there is no way they would kill off Superman after only his second appearance and you feel as if the movie studio think you are stupid. Seriously, just forgetting the little but obvious hint at the end of the film that he wasn’t really dead – did anyone seriously believe they would kill off Superman after only two films? The shock does not work when its painfully obvious there is no shock there. Secondly and most importantly, they had not earned the right to kill off Superman. In order for a character’s death to mean something and resonate with the viewer you have to allow the audience to get to know the character first and with Superman that didn’t work because it was only the second film in the franchise.

You want to know how you kill off a popular superhero in a movie and have it mean something, have the people behind the death earn the right to kill a character off?

Logan Poster

Why it worked with Wolverine and not Superman is simply because the audience got to know and love the character over several years and movies. Seventeen years and nine movies of Hugh Jackman playing the same character gave us the viewer a chance to enjoy him and it really did hit hard when he was killed off in Logan. They earned the right to kill him off unlike Superman. I came out of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice laughing at how bad it was, not just the overall film but just the hackneyed and unsurprising way they killed Superman off that left a terrible taste in my mouth. I came out of Logan with a huge lump in my throat, feeling emotionally drained and yet strangely satisfied. It felt right.

This whole thing brings me to Avengers: Infinity War. As I said, lots of characters die in this one and most of them suffer from what I’m now calling “The Superman Syndrome”. Before the film’s release, a lot of people thought that either Captain America or Iron Man would be the ones to bite the bullet and yet they were some of the few to survive. I admit, its an interesting twist on the part of the film to not do what the fans were expecting. But by doing this, the film also suffers from The Superman Syndrome. If they won’t kill off the two main long running characters, it pretty much only leaves them with the newer ones, the ones we haven’t yet had chance to form the same bond with.

Infinity War Spider-Man

Pretty much the big death in the movie that people are talking about is Spider-Man…yes Spider-Man dies. Except just as with Superman from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice…we all know he wont be dead for long. We know this for two very good reasons. First, he died via Thanos’ clicky finger dissolving super-death move and every character who died that way will be back in the second part of the film (yes Avengers: Infinity War is a two parter). We already saw Thanos turn back time thanks to the Infinity Stones/Gauntlet during the whole Vision scene, plus Captain Marvel will be in the second part and she can and most probably will time travel (with the help of Ant-Man), then there is the whole Soul Stone thing – these little factors all add up to the fallen being brought back, we may not know exactly how yet…but we all know they are coming back.

EDIT: The Russo brothers have recently confirmed that Gamora is still alive trapped in the Soul stone. So her ‘permanent death’ is a moot point too.

Secondly there are more Spider-Man films planned. In fact a lot of the characters who die in that dissolving thingy-bob have future films planned in the MCU. Kind of ruins the whole shock factor when we know what they have planned eh? Just as with Superman’s ‘death’ in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – a movie that sets up the Justice League flick which everyone knew Superman would be part of, you can’t kill off Spider-Man and except people to believe it really is the end for the character. They also killed off Black Panther shortly after his solo flick that was a huge success and critically acclaimed, of course he’s not really dead. You’re fooling no one Marvel and the shock/surprise just does not work.

I’m not taking anything away from the Spider-Man death scene itself as the acting was great. Both Tom Holland and Robert Downey Jr were fantastic in it. Just before I move on, Loki dies, Heimdall dies, Vision dies, Spider-Man dies…all played by British actors. Does Marvel have something against British actors? Back to the point, yeah the acting was brilliant but we know Spider-Man will be back and that takes a huge chunk away from the emotion of the scene. Compare this to the killing off of Wolverine in Logan – We knew it was the last film, we knew that Hugh Jackman wanted to retire the character and even though we all knew he would die at the end…it still hit us hard, we were still gobsmacked as James Howlett breathed his last and anyone who had watched the character grow though the films for almost twenty years felt something as he died. You just can not get that by killing off a massively popular character after only a handful of appearances.

They even kill off Nick Fury in the after credit scene, one of the originals and a death that really could’ve meant something…except he dies via Thanos’ clicky finger dissolving super-death move so we know he’ll be back. Just as DC didn’t earn to right to kill off Superman, Marvel also didn’t earn the right to kill off pretty much anyone who dies in Avengers: Infinity War.

Thanos

Of course there is another side to this coin, an argument that can be put forth that destroys every point I have just made. Yeah we the viewer may know Spider-Man and the rest will be back, we know that ultimately the Avengers and Co. will win and Thanos will fail in the second part of the picture…but the characters in the film don’t. Maybe this is where we are meant to draw our emotional connection from, not our own viewpoints and expectations as with Wolverine’s death in Logan but instead those of the characters in the flick. Spider-Man’s death didn’t work for me looking at it knowing that he will be back, knowing that the good guys will eventually win. But as I said, the acting was sublime and really lifted the scene as a whole. It was Peter Parker just being the teenage school boy he really is crying that he didn’t want to go, it was Tony Stark’s look of disbelief and abject failure as his protégé died in his arms that sold it.

Yeah, in the grand scheme, Spider-Man’s death is really nothing. But at the time, those few seconds, that acting and everything else? That was a Logan moment and one that will stay with me forever.

When Is It Okay To Spoil A Movie?

So the review embargo for Avengers: Infinity War ends very soon, in fact – by the time I write and publish this, the first reviews will most probably be all over the interwebs some complete with spoilers. Anyway, I’m a member of several movie groups over on that there data stealing Facebook and everyone has agreed to not spoil the film until next week. To me a week sounds a little soon. But when is it acceptable to spoil a film?

The reason I’m asking this question is because LEGO launched a toy line tie-in for Avengers: Infinity War a while back and it has been said that the images released of the LEGO toys reveal a pretty huge spoiler from the movie. Now I’ve not actually really looked into this myself because…I’m really not that hyped for the movie to be honest. But the whole thing has me questioning when is it okay to spoil a movie? Regular readers will often notice that I always post spoiler warnings even if the film/game I’m covering is years or decades old. I do this because I personally don’t think its ever okay to spoil a movie no matter how old it is. My line of thinking is that there isn’t a person on the planet that has seen every film ever made, so their enjoyment for the movie can be spoilt for something that is forty years old just as much as for a film that is a week old.

There is a train of thought by some people who say that “if you haven’t seen the film by now then you deserve to have it spoilt.” As if waiting to watch a film is a bad thing and you should be punished for doing so. I mean, I had The Usual Suspects spoilt for me by someone who thought I should know the ending just because I had not yet seen the film three years after its release. Some say its pretty much impossible to avoid spoilers in this day and age what with the interwebs and blogs such as this one…and I strongly disagree. I find it easy to avoid spoilers, you just don’t read the articles or reviews. But there are times when other things spoil the movie even if you are not fully aware of it at the time. Much like the previous LEGO spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War thing I alluded to, I’m now going to take a look at other ways movies have been spoiled ‘unintentionally’ from other sources.

So here we go and be warned SPOILERS ahead…

Justice League

So the film was terrible, but several months before the release of the film and Warner Bros were doing their best to keep many of the films secrets…well a secret. Of course anyone with an IQ over 2 knew Superman would be in the film but at the time the main villain was kept under wraps. That was until LEGO (again) released the following play-set.

Justice League LEGO

Yup there’s Superman as everyone expected but so its the main villain of Steppenwolf (who at the time had not been revealed) plus the set also shows the Batmobile Airlift that would be Batman’s choice of vehicle to fight against Steppenwolf too. So a trio of spoilers in one handy play-set thanks to LEGO.

Oz the Great and Powerful

So part of the mystery of this flick was that of the three witches, Glinda (Michelle Williams), Theodora (Mila Kunis), and Evanora (Rachel Weisz) one of them could and would turn evil in the events of the film (obviously hoping that no one saw the original film). So much so that Disney even launched a “Which Witch Is Which?” marketing campaign to hype the movie. They even hinted that “Good Witch” Glenda could turn evil. It was a fun bit of marketing that Disney used to keep people guessing who the evil witch would be…

OZ Mug

So why did Disney okay the sale of this mug that clearly shows Theodora as the Wicked Witch months before the release of the film? Doesn’t that kind of destroy their whole marketing campaign of trying to keep people guessing Which Witch Is Which?

The Sixth Sense

This was the big hit of 1999. A massively overrated thriller written and directed by the master of obvious twists M. Night Shamalamadingdong. The hype for this film was crazy with an extremely strong marketing campaign that revolved around a kid that “sees dead people”. Honestly that line was everywhere, in the trailers, TV spots and it was even one of the taglines for the film itself. Yeah we get it, the kid sees dead people.

Sixth Sense

Cut to the start of the film and its main character is shot in the opening few minutes. Do you really need anyone to walk you through this one? I remember watching this for the first time and while everyone was talking abut the “amazing twist”, I would just sit there scratching my head…what twist? The film is about a kid who sees dead people and the main character is shot in the opening. So what was the twist? The marketing campaign ruined what was supposed to be the big twist of this one.

Carrie

Quite a few trailers ruin films these days by giving away the ending. Hell, this ain’t nothing new, it was going on over forty years ago too. This Brian De Palma directed classic based on the Stephen King novel was and still is awesome. Just a shame the original trailer ruined the whole damn film.

Carrie

Every single major scene from the film is shown in the trailer. Form the early use of Carrie’s powers to the pig blood soaked high school prom revenge finale. They even show the demise of the main villains when Carrie flips their car and causes it to explode. Everything is spoiled in the trailer except for that final jump scare. Seriously, watch the original trailer as it really is the entire film in just over two minutes.

Shutter Island

You know its not only trailers that spoil films, the posters can too. This one is an utterly brilliant thriller with a mesmerizing twist that will leave you breathless. Well that is if you didn’t pay close attention to the poster for the film first…

Shutter Island Poster.jpg

I admit that its not all that obvious at first glance but that tagline right there, that “Some places never let you go” gives away the twist ending. I’ll say no more…

Planet of the Apes

Even DVD covers can spoil movies especially for a half century old film. The original Planet of the Apes is an all time classic with one of the most jaw dropping and iconic endings ever caught on film. The original release kept this one under wraps really well too, a courtesy not extended to its home release.

Planet of the Apes

“You Maniacs! You spoiled it! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!”. Yeah lets just give away one of the greatest endings ever right there on the cover. No need to watch the film when you can just look at the cover.


See in my humble opinion, there is no time limit on spoilers and its never okay to just blurt out something that could ruin someone else’s enjoyment. Whether it be a toy line, trailer, poster or some idiot telling you the ending to The Usual Suspects just because you haven’t seen the film yet (yes I’m still bitter). Let people discover the films and their surprises themselves no matter if the film is a new release or decades old.

For me a spoiler is a spoiler – simple as that.

Great Scott! Back To The Future: The Plot Holes!

Okay, so I’m no snob that thinks my favorite films are 100% perfect with no problems. All films have problems, goofs and errors because they are made by humans and us humans are not infallible, we make mistakes…all of us, I’ll probably make some mistakes in this article. But I do have a problem with people calling out a film for having a plot hole when no such plot hole really exists. Such as with my look at a supposed “major plot hole” in Die Hard not long back. As with that article, right here I’m going to take a look at some plot holes that people believe they have found in the Back to the Future trilogy. I have scoured the interwebs for videos, comments and other blogs that have brought up the most popular plot holes and I will now attempt to cover the supposed plot holes using only basic logic, information from the movies or from the film makers themselves.

There are quite a few to cover over the entire trilogy and the Back to the Future films can get a little confusing if you don’t pay attention (which is where a lot of the supposed plot holes come from, the lack of attention). So prepare yourselves as this is going to get heavy.

Back to the Future Alternate Poster.jpg

Why Don’t 1985 George & Lorraine Think That Marty Looks Like Calvin Klein From School?

George and Lorranie 1955

This is probably one of the biggest and most referenced plot holes from the first film. So at the end of the flick, Marty returns to 1985 from 1955 and a lot has changed (more on that later), one of the biggest changes is how in love his parents George and Lorraine now are compared to the start of the film pre-time travel. But seeing as Marty spent time in 1955 interacting with his then teenage parents, why do they not recognise him in 1985? Why doesn’t George think it suspicious that Marty looks just like that Calvin Klein kid from his school?

Okay so this is how I look at it and how I think the film looks at it too. It had been thirty years from when Marty was in 1955 to 1985. There were no pictures of Calvin for his parents to look back on. Do you really expect the now middle aged adults to remember the face of someone they met thirty years previously while they were teenagers with nothing to remind them? Even more so, Marty/Calvin hardly spent any time with George and Lorraine when he was in 1955 under strict instructions from Doc, he only interacted with them when necessary (after messing up the time line). Marty may have been in 1955 for a week but would have spent only a handful of hours with them over those seven days. But people expect George and Lorraine to remember what Calvin Kline from school looked like three decades ago who they only knew for a few hours over the course of a seven day period? Yeah he helped them get together and of course you’d think they would remember that right? Well…

Then to finish, it could be as simple as George and Lorraine just do not remember Calvin/Marty. The film itself even highlights as much in its dialogue. George and Lorraine credit Biff with getting them together and not Calvin.

George:Ahh… Biff. What a character. Always trying to get away with something. I’ve had to stay on top of Biff ever since High School. Although if it wasn’t for him…

Lorraine:We never would have fallen in love.

Then there is this bit of dialogue too…

Lorraine:Oh, honey! Your first novel.

George:Like I’ve always told you, you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.

George uses Marty’s quote about putting your mind to something, which Marty said to his father back in 1955…except he doesn’t credit Calvin with the quote and says “Like I’ve always told you…”. Is that’s George remembering the quote but not necessarily remembering who said it, so credits himself?

So my conclusion is that they just do not remember Calvin from 1955, memories fade especially over a thirty year period. The film itself even spells this out. If they clearly don’t remember him nor have anything to remind themselves of Calvin from 1955 – they would have no reason to think Marty looks like Calvin would they? No plot hole.

Marty Disappearing At The Dance

Martys Hand

I didn’t even think this was considered a plot hole (because its not) but as I found this particular one on whatculture.com, I thought I’d address it anyway. They point out how the picture of his siblings that Marty has with him in 1955 shows them slowly disappear after Marty has interfered with his parents getting together. As they say about this plot hole that “Over those first several days, Marty’s brother and sister were gradually erased, as indicated on the photo that Marty so quaintly carried with him before smart phones.” Which is very true, so what is the plot hole here?

Well according to this site, during the dance near the end of the first film, Marty (and I quote) “began to disappear on the stage with Marvin Berry and company at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, but all at once and very rapidly.” Pointing out that Marty’s disappearance was much quicker than his siblings shown in the photo.

So there are two ways to look at this one as far as I can tell. The first can be explained using the ‘ripple effect‘. Basically, how like throwing a stone into a body of water causes ripples to eventually expand across the water. They start out small but become bigger and bigger the longer the effect continues. So one could say that the erasing of Marty was part of that ripple effect that started out small but by the time it make its way through his siblings, the ripples were much larger and made a bigger impact. Makes sense to me anyway. The other way to look at it is to watch the damn film properly as Marty never does begin to disappear (as the site claims) “all at once and very rapidly” at all. ONLY his hand begins to fade, which is most definitely not “all at once”, that’s just a hand, plus its a slow fade too which is not “very rapidly”. Then just to finish, we only see his brother and sister fade via a photo and have no idea how that would be depicted in in “real-life” as it were, for all we know his family could have disappeared EXACTLY the same way Marty began to right?

So I chalk this one up to whoever pointed this plot hole out as just not paying attention.

Marty Being Called Marty

Lorraine and Marty

After the big dance and after Marty does his best Chuck Berry impersonation, he bumps into his now very much in love parents to be. After a little humorous exchange of words and advice, Lorraine makes a fun comment after Marty leaves.

Lorraine:Marty…such a nice name.

So if Lorraine likes the name Marty so much, why didn’t she name her first born son (Dave) Marty instead of Marty? Major plot hole there eh? Well no. Lorraine just makes a throwaway comment on how the name Marty is nice, she does not say “Marty…I really must call my first born that.” She just likes the name and for all we now she could have called the family dog Marty sometime after these events. Maybe they had an agreement that George would name their first born? There are various possibilities. Even more so, Marty was called Marty even before going to 1955 (because Lorraine has ALWAYS liked the name without Marty’s interference?) so could there be a chance that the name didn’t come from his time-traveling escapades? Oh yeah I got this one backed up too.

Not many people know this but his name isn’t actually Marty, that’s just a nickname as his full name is in fact Martin Seamus McFly and do you know where that name came from? In Back to the Future III, Marty crosses paths with his great-great grandfather, Seamus McFly and it is reveled that Seamus had a brother named Martin, Marty’s great-great granduncle.

Anyway, the point is that Marty’s real name of Martin Seamus comes from his great-great grandfather and great-great granduncle and always has done even before his went to 1955. So Lorraine liking the name Marty is a moot point really as the name is a family one handed down through the generations, though maybe not for every generation. Even 2015 Marty has a son and his name? Martin “Marty” Jr keeping that Martin family name alive.

Rich And Famous George & Lorraine In The Alternate 1985 And Other Changes

George McFly Book

So pre-time-travel and the McFly family are a bunch of losers…except super cool Marry of course. Lorraine is an overweight, raging alcoholic. George is a pathetic wimp with greasy hair. His brother, Dave works in a crappy fast food place and his sister Linda is shown to be having trouble with the boys. They live in a shitty little house that is clearly unkempt.

However, post-time-travel and things have dramatically changed. Lorraine is not longer drinking and looks amazing. George is a massively confident and a successful writer with much nicer hair. Dave has a cushy job in an office and Linda seems a bit more successful with the opposite sex…and they still live in the same house but its much decorated much more tastefully.

So much to cover here but I’ll start with an easy one. A lot of people see it as a plot hole that both Dave and Linda are still living with their parents if their lives are so much better. But the film never makes it clear that they still living with their parents. Yeah they are there at the house having breakfast – but how do we not know that a family breakfast on a Saturday morning is not a McFly family tradition? Maybe they always get together on a Saturday morning and Dave and Linda were just there as normal. Maybe Dave and Linda were just passing on their way to work and popped in to say hello? Several possibilities that make sense.

Another one of the most popular plot holes in regard to all the changes. So seeing as George is such a rich and successful writer, then why are they still living in the same house? Well who says that George is rich and successful? Allow me to quickly bring up another quote form the film…

Biff: “Mr. McFly! Mr. McFly, this just arrived. Oh, hi, Marty. I think it’s your new book.

Lorraine: “Oh, honey! Your first novel.

His FIRST novel. Does this not indicate that just maybe his is not as rich and successful as people think he is? Maybe his novel will be a huge flop, maybe it was be a worldwide bestseller. Point is, its his FIRST novel so we the viewer do not know how rich and successful he is or if he ever will be. Maybe that is why they still live in the same house, because that’s all they could afford?

Another plot hole people seem to bring up about all these changes is why hasn’t Marty changed and why would he still hang out with Doc? If his parents and family have changed for the better then wouldn’t that lead to a different upbringing for Marty? This is another one of those simple issues that we the viewer just do not see. Yeah I guess Marty would have a different upbringing and he quite possibly did. But this is how I see it. It was Marty going back to 1955 and interacting with his parents that kick-started the changes…so if it was Marry that was the main influence then why would Marty himself change? Would he not still have the same interests (including befriending Doc) if it was ultimately Marty influencing himself? Even more so, he did change as a subtle detail at the end reveals. Pre-time-travel and Marty has serious doubts about sending his band’s demo tape to a music producer as shown when he and Jennifer talk near the start of the film. However by the end, Marty is seen holding an envelope ready to post which has been confirmed as being that same demo tape. So Marty’s confidence has grown after his 1955 trip.

But before I finish up on these non-existent plot holes there is one major factor people seem to miss. The Marty we see at the end of the film is the original Marty from the start of the flick and the one from the original parents. The alternate Marty, the one that would’ve been brought up by the more successful George & Lorraine we see get sent back to 1955 near the end of the film. As we do not get to really see this Marty, he could be vastly different for all we know. Or (going back to a previous point) he could be pretty much the same seeing as it was Marty who influences his family anyway. Point is, there are two Marty’s, the original who wouldn’t really change and the now “new” Marty who has gone to 1955 who could have changed but we just do not see any of that.

Hiring Biff The Rapist

Lorraine and Biff

So I’ve always felt that “rape” was a bit too strong a word to use when describing Biff and what he got up to with Lorraine in the first film. Yeah he forced himself on her…but rape? Anyway, regardless of my own personal views and opinions on that particular scene, I’ll allow the rape description for this one. Some people feel its a plot hole that George would hire the person who attempted to rape his future wife to clean and polish his car at the end of the film and call into question why George would put his family in danger like that.

I see this as a massive shift in power and one George relishes in. All through high school, George had been bullied by Biff right up until that day when he (via the help of Calvin) had the balls to stand up to Biff and lay him out with one punch. George’s popularity soared to heights as conversely Biff’s reputation sank. The school began to see Biff for the true coward he really was. Given that kind of a situation, wouldn’t you hire your ex-nemesis as a dogsbody to clean your car as an insult and payback for years and years of bullying abuse? And if you don’t like that reasoning, then maybe Biff’s Auto Detailing is the only car cleaning business in the small town of Hall Valley?

Exactly When Did Lightning Hit The Clock Tower?

Clock tower lightening

So this is one I’ve seen pop up several times. The climax of the film includes a thrilling race against time (irony?) during the infamous Hill Valley electrical storm of November 12, 1955. Where Marty has to drive the DeLorean at 88 MPH towards Doc’s “weather experiment” that will harness and direct the lightning into the car creating the needed 1.21 gigawatts to send it and Marty back to 1985. But the plot hole is how could they know when the lighting would strike? Yeah they knew it would hit the clock tower at 10:04 pm but don’t minutes have little segments to them called seconds so the lighting could strike anytime in those sixty seconds – which would completely throw off the timing of the experiment, hence the plot hole.

The answer to this one is given in the film itself. When Marty and Jennifer are talking near the start of the film, they are approached by the Hill Valley Preservation Society who were raising funds and awareness for their hopes to…well preserve the clock tower in its current state as they feel that the lighting storm and the damage it caused to the clock tower is historically important to Hill Valley. Marty gives them a donation and in return he gets given a flyer. This flyer has all sorts of information on it about the clock tower including the precise time it was hit by lightning – Doc even mentions this himself when coming up with the plan to send Marty back. So they knew EXACTLY to the second when the lighting would hit.

Doc Rips Up The Letter

Marty's letter

So during the climax of the first film, Doc discovers the letter Marty wrote to him about the night he is shot and killed in an attempt to save Doc’s life. Doc tears the letter up and throws it away and yet back in 1985 he is wearing a bulletproof vest that saves his life and pulls out the torn up letter now fixed with sellotape. But he threw the letter away so how can he still have it?

This one is a plot hole I see popping up a lot and it really boils down to something so simple and another one of those people just not paying attention things. Yes Doc tears the letter up…but he doesn’t throw it away. If you watch the scene on question Doc just places the torn pieces into his coat pocket. So its pretty safe to assume that Doc simply took the letter from his pocket and reconstructed it sometime after the events of the first film.

Back to the Future II Alternate Poster

Old Biff And Young Biff Chatting

Old and Young Biff

So Doc says that you should avoid running into yourself when time travelling as it could cause the space-time continuum to destroy the universe or maybe you’d just faint? There is quite a big difference between those two factors eh? Anyway, if this is the case then how come 2015 Biff when in 1955 manages to have a lengthy chat with his 1955 counterpart and nothing happens? I mean when 1985 Jennifer sees her 2015 self, they faint. So there’s a major plot hole right there.

Of course its not, have you not got the gist of this article yet? When Doc talks about time travel, he uses a lot of vague speeches that offer no certainties or definites. Yes Doc invented a time machine…but even he does not know exactly how it all works, he has his ideas and theories – but that is all they are, ideas and theories. So yeah, maybe running into yourself via time travel could destroy the universe, maybe you would faint…or maybe nothing would happen at all? That’s the thing about time travel, no one knows.

If you don’t like that explanation, I can offer another. 1955 Biff just did not recognise 2015 Biff to cause any problems. The film itself even makes a point that young Biff does not know who old Biff is and this could be the key. As long as your younger self has no idea who you are then there can not be any space-time continuum universe destroying or fainting. I guess ignorance can be bliss. If you want further proof of this idea then it happens again when 1985 Doc bumps into 1955 Doc during setting up the “weather experiment”. Though the two converse and interact, older Doc keeps himself hidden as much as he can from his younger self. The young Doc has no idea that he is talking to the future version of himself and just as with the whole Biff thing…nothing happens.

Biff Returning To The Same 2015

Hilldale 2015

This one is probably the most popular plot hole of the film. Every Back to the Future fan knows this one but I’ll just do a quick recap anyway. So while in 2015, as Doc and Marty are trying to get the unconscious Jennifer out of the house and back to the DeLorean, old Biff steals the time machine, goes to 1955, changes the time line and returns to 2015. The problem is that Doc makes it very clear later that one can not travel to the same future you came from if you have changed the past as you will be in a future altered from the point the past changed. This is even shown at the end of the first flick when Marty returns to 1985, but its a different 1985 with his improved family. So if the rules of the film(s) point out you can not return to the same future, then how did Biff manage to do just this after coming back from 1955?

Simply put, he didn’t return to the same future. There you go, on with the next plot hole.

Okay so this one does need some explaining. As I said, Biff did return to a now alternate 2015 when he came back from 1955. There are several hints through the film that can be used to back up this claim too. One of the easiest (and laziest) explanations is to go back to the classic ripple effect and say that the changes in the time line from 1955 had not yet caught up to 2015. But I said that Biff did return to an alternate 2015 and the ripple effect just does not cover that claim.

First point to make is that Doc says how the time line changes around the time travelers, he mentions this when Marty is concerned about leaving Jennifer on the porch to pick her up later after they fix the time line. Another point is the location the scene takes place in, Hilldale a residential area that was quite highbrow and affluent in 1985 but a run-down shithole in 2015. Even the police, when they find the unconscious 1985 Jennifer and take her home mention how Hilldale is a rough neighbourhood full of junkies and thieves. As does the cabbie that drops Biff off in Hilldale. So taking these two points and seeing as Biff going back to 1955 made his future self incredibly rich, so much so that he ran Hill Valley into the ground as shown in the alternate 1985 later…exactly what would’ve changed? Hilldale would have changed from a shithole to a slightly more of a shithole? I don’t see that many, if any changes would have caught the attention of Doc and Marty as the timeline changed around them. I mean look at how long it takes them to work out they arrived in an alternate 1985 later compared to how much time they spend in 2015 after Biff returns. If it took a good few hours to realise the timeline has been changed in 1985 I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t notice small changes in Hilldale within a few minutes.

Another factor is the direction of the whole scene. Doc and Marty have already got Jennifer out of the McFly house when Biff returns to 2015. It is said on the commentary for the film that it was shot this very specific way as to get the characters out of the house as the timeline changed so anyone could have been living in the now ex-McFly house due to the changes…we just never see who.

There is also a much bigger clue and that is when Biff exits the DeLorean and is seen to be having some kind of difficulty. He’s struggling to breath and walk…something has changed. There is a famous deleted scene that shows Biff disappear, being erased from existence after returning to 2015. So yeah, Biff does return to an alternate 2015 and not the same one he left.

Lack Of Memories And How Can Marty & Jennifer Exist In 2015?

Marty and Lorraine

I suppose this is a pretty big one too. If Marty & Jennifer leave 1985 to go to 2015 then how can they exist in the future if they have skipped over that period of time and even more so, why don’t future Marty and Jennifer know that the 1985 versions of themselves are there?

As Doc says “the future is not written”, it may not be written but it is at least penciled in. I have always looked at it as the future being extrapolated from where they are in the current timeline and the moment you leave the timeline a future is ‘predicted’ using the information of that moment. This would also go some way to explain how Doc is able to go to 2015 and discover that Marty’s son will get into trouble in the future. In fact in Back to the Future III when Marty and Doc are discussing the fact the name on Doc’s tombstone had disappeared – but the stone itself and date of death remains, Doc says this…

Doc:This photograph represents what will happen if the events of today continue to run their course into tomorrow.

So the future is not written, but it is at the very least still outlined and if the events of today carry on through tomorrow and the next day, and the next day and so on then that is the future you will have. So, in short the future shown in 2015 is simply extrapolated and penciled in based on the events of 1985 at that time. Does that make sense? The way I see it is the future shown in 2015 is just an estimate drawn from the events of 1985 pre-time travel escapades. This also goes some to to explain why neither future Marty or Jennifer know that their 1985 counterparts are in 2015…because in this future predicted, they didn’t time travel to 2015.

There is another possible explanation. Future Marty and Jennifer exist in 2015 because they will ultimately return to 1985 and live out their lives up to 2015. I can back this one up with in-movie logic too. Where is the 2015 version Doc when they go to the future? We never see him. There are various explanations to this, first the most depressing one, Doc is dead by 2015 and that is why we don’t see him. Second, he is very much alive, we just do not see him in 2015. Third and the one that I think ties in best with the whole theory – Doc never returns to 1985 (as shown at the end of Back to the Future III) to live his life through to 2015 so he can not exist in the future. You can even go back to the first film to find an example of this idea too. When Doc first tests the time machine using his dog Einstein, he sends his faithful pal one minute into the future. When Doc and Marty eventually catch up to that future (all be it only sixty seconds), there is only one Einstein and not two because he never goes back to his original time of one minute in the past to live out that time.

Old Biff Stealing The DeLorean

Biff Delorean

So while Doc and Marty are busy recusing Jennifer from the 2015 McFly house, old Biff steals the DeLorean and takes it back to 1955 to give his younger-self the sports almanac. But the plot hole many people bring up is how does Biff not only know he is in a time machine but also how to use it?

This is another one of those not paying attention things. Going back to the start of the film and during the re-cap of the end of the previous film as Doc Marty and Jennifer head off to 2015, Biff comes running out of the house and sees the DeLorean time travel. He does not fully understand exactly what is going on then, but its an event he will recall in 2015. Now in the future and Biff sees a flying DeLorean and that kick-starts his memory form thirty years previously – he still has not worked everything out, but he is suspicious, especially when he sees two Marty Jnrs running around. One the real son of Marty from 2015 and one Marty himself from 1985. Then when Doc discovers Marty’s plan of betting on sporting events, he throws the sports almanac away while berating Marty for his idea. While Doc talks about the dangers of time travel, Biff overhears them and now finally has all the pieces of the puzzle. He knows that Doc and Marty have time traveled and he also knows about the sports almanac.

Okay so Biff knows the DeLorean is a time machine…but how does he know how to use it? I have numerous possible explanations to this one too.

Time Circuits.jpg

See that image? Its taken from the first film when and is (obviously) an interior shot of the car, in particular the time circuits – notice anything? Everything is clearly labeled, time circuits including destination time, present time and last time departed. Even the digital speedometer has a label on it pointing out you need to go 88 MPH. There is a label for the plutonium chamber, one for flux capacitor…everything has a label – seriously next time you watch the film(s) just look at the DeLorean’s interior and Doc has conveniently ensured everything has a label. So all Biff had to do was read and piece things together on how to use the equipment. Here’s another theory, he didn’t know how to use it and just went back to 1955 by accident. I mean, Marty went back to 1955 by accident in the first film when he unintentionally turned on the time circuits while changing gear, even Doc did the same near the end of this film when he goes to rescue Marty from the school and accidentally flips the time circuits on which will eventually send him to 1885. So if both Marty and Doc can unwittingly get sent back through time….why not Biff?

Then there is my final point and one I think people seem to overlook…HE’S IN A TIME MACHINE! Biff could have taken hours, days, weeks, months to work out how the time machine works and just as long as he reruns the DeLorean back to 2015 for Doc and Marty to use, there would be no problem.

Why Go To 1955 To Get The Almanac Back?

Biff Wins Newspaper

That’s the thing about having a time machine, there is not real urgency to do anything as you have all the time in the world. So why do Doc and Marty feel the need to go back to 1955 as soon as they learn that 2015 Biff gave his younger-self the almanac, couldn’t they have waited until sometime in 1956 or 57 or any point after 1955 Biff receives the book? There is even the fact that 1955 Biff doesn’t make any bets until a few years after he gets hold of the book anyway, so there is no rush really.

First thing I need to address with this one is why Biff waits a few years to make his first bet. The film itself points out he was too young in 1955 so had to wait until he was 21 years old to gamble. Then there is the simple fact that Doc or Marty would have no idea where the almanac was after 1955, given the evidence they had discovered in the DeLorean including the receipt of the book and the bag it came in, the top of 2015 Biff’s cane and of course the time and date on the time circuits. They knew for a fact that 2015 Biff must have given the 1955 Biff the book at some time during that period of time. Plus while in the alternate 1985, Biff tells Marty that the old geezer who gave him the book (his 2015 counterpart) told him to keep the book in a safe and the film shows the 1985 Biff take the book from a safe, so it would be safe (no pun) to assume that 1955 Biff would eventually lock the book away making it hard to get to. Taking all of that into account, Doc and Marty really had little choice other than to go to 1955 to where they were sure 2015 Biff would give 1955 Biff the book and try to retrieve it then.

Back to the Future III Alternate Poster.jpg

Beloved Clara And Clayton Ravine

Doc and Clara

So the tombstone Doc and Marty find in 1955 which is the entire plot point of the whole movie, the reason Marty goes to 1885 to save Doc from being killed, the tombstone is erected by Doc’s ‘beloved Clara’. But Clara Clayton falls into Clayton Ravine hence its name but how can she put up a tombstone for Doc if she died?

The main thing to keep in mind here is the fact there are three timelines to remember.

  1. The first original timeline with no Marty or Doc in 1885. In this timeline, Clara turns up at the train station. There is no one to meet her. She hires a buckboard and heads into town. Horse gets spooked by a snake and Clara falls into the ravine. The ravine is named Clayton Ravine out of respect. This is the timeline Marty and Doc know as they were from a future after these events.
  2. The first alternate timeline with only Doc in 1885. Doc is asked by the mayor to meet Clara from the station. They fall in love. Doc gets shot in the back by Buford and dies. Clara lives on in this timeline, erects the tombstone, and has inscribed on it “Erected in eternal memory by his beloved Clara”. This is the tombstone Marty finds in 1955 and of which he takes a photo.
  3. The second alternate timeline with Marty and Doc in 1885. This timeline is a mix of the first two and the one show in the movie. Doc is asked to meet Clara and he agrees. This time Marty turns up, and Doc forgets all about meeting her. You can even see Clara waiting at the train station for her escort in the film as Doc and Marty look at the railway map. Anyway, Clara hires a buckboard and heads into town. Snake, ravine, etc. But this time Doc is there to save her, as shown in the film.

So that is how Clara can erect the tombstone for Doc because of the second timeline shown above. But if Clara lives and doesn’t fall into the ravine thanks to Doc…then why is Clayton Ravine still called Clayton Ravine as Marty recalls? Well I can offer two possibilities.

  1. When Marty tells the story of Clayton Ravine while in 1885, he is talking from his memories from before Doc gets sent to 1885 and before Doc saves Clara because as Doc pointed on in the second film, the timeline changes around the time traveler, so they would retain their original memories . The only way Marty would know what the ravine was called after Doc saved Clara would be to time travel to a point after these events but before the train crash at the end of the film. But he does not, so he keeps his original memories including the name of the ravine. What the ravine is called in 1885 from that point (but before Eastwood Ravine at the end of the film)? Maybe it retained its original name of Shonash Ravine.
  2. Clara (after Doc dies) throws herself into the ravine through depression after losing her true love. The townsfolk call the ravine Clayton Ravine out of respect as they feel sorry for Clara. So, even in the second timeline shown above, it’s possible for the ravine to have still been called Clayton Ravine.

Getting Gas In 1885

DeLorean

So when Marty gets to 1885, he is attacked by ‘Injuns’ and the DeLorean takes an arrow (to the knee) in the gas-line which in turn leaks gasoline rendering the car useless. So Doc and Marty have to come up with a plan to get the time machine up to 88 MPH so they can get back to 1985. But here’s the thing, gasoline was available in 1885, it was not easy to come by, but it was available, I mean kerosene was readily available back then and a by-product of  kerosene is gasoline. So if Doc can create a machine that creates ice in 1885, why not a machine that turns kerosene into gas?

I actually can not believe this is being brought up as a plot hole. Yes I guess Doc could build a machine and turn kerosene into gas, in theory this could work. In practice though? Seeing as the plot of the film is Marty going to 1885 to save Doc from being shot and killed and that Doc being shot happens in just a few days…how the hell is Doc supposed to find parts, build and create a machine to make gas given the tight time frame?

The Two DeLoreans Of 1885

Buried DeLorean

One of the most brought up plot holes of the third film and kind of ties onto the previous one. The fact that there are two DeLoreans in 1885. The one Marty travels from 1955 to 1885 in and the one Doc buries in the cave that Marty uses in 1955 to ultimately go to 1885. Seeing as they needed gas in 1885, why don’t they just take the gas from the buried car and put it in the other one?

That makes perfect sense but there is a flaw in this plan. The buried car doesn’t have any gas in it. Here is a line from Doc just before he sends Marty from 1955 to 1885.

Doc Brown:I’ve put gas in the tank.

Why would he need to put gas in the tank if it already has gas in it? There is also the fact that anyone with an ounce of basic knowledge would now that when you put a car in storage for long periods of time (like seventy years) you drain the fuel to prevent corrosion and damage to the gas tank.

Plus even if we ignore the draining of the fuel, there is a major paradox risk, If when uncovering the buried DeLorean in 1885 Doc and Marty cause damage to the car, then that damage would be there in 1955 when Marty comes to use it. If the car is damaged then he couldn’t go to 1885… Seeing as Marty is in 1885, that proves that the plan to send him back in time worked, so why risk it?

Why Didn’t Doc Know He’s Going To Die In 1885?

Doc and Buford

This is another one where I feel people just do not pay attention. So when Marty does get to 1885 and eventually meets up with Doc, Doc is surprised to learn that he will be shot and killed by Buford. But here’s the plot hole – the Doc living in 1885 is the Doc from 1985 and it is while in 1955 with Marty that Doc discovers his own tombstone and the date of his death. So if 1955 Doc is aware he will be shot and killed…then shouldn’t 1985 Doc (who is now in 1885) now know this information and therefore wouldn’t be surprised to learn of his own death?

I see two possible explanations for this one. The first is to go back to the trusty, previously mentioned ripple effect. One can quite simply say that the changes in the timeline – eg: Doc being shot and killed in 1885, have not yet caught up to 1985 Doc.

The other is the more reliable one I feel and goes back to Doc’s idea that the timeline changes around the time traveler. Throughout the entire trilogy it has been shown that the person that does go through time retains their original memories regardless of ‘when’ they are. Going back to the first flick and Marty still remembers his parents meeting and falling in love at the school dance even though it has not yet happened – he remembers this because he is from a timeline where this is exactly what happened. Also, As I previously mentioned in an other plot hole above in regards to the whole Clayton Ravine thing, Marty remembers it being called Clayton Ravine because he comes from a time when that is what it was called despite the fact that Clara no longer dies in the ravine post-time travelling. The same rules can be applied to 1985 Doc who is also a time traveler and would retain his original memories. Originally Doc does not go back to 1885 and so therefore would not be shot and killed by Buford. Ergo, he would not have any memory of being shot because it never happened in his original timeline. Also note that Doc when living in 1885 had no idea that Marty was coming back for him and then there is the funny exchange about the clothing Marty is wearing…

Doc: “Marty, you’re going to have to do something about those clothes. You walk around town dressed like that, you’re liable to get shot.
Marty: “Or hanged.
Doc: “What idiot dressed you in that outfit?
Marty: “You did.

It was 1955 Doc who picked out Marty’s clothes for his 1885 trip, yet the 1985 Doc was not aware that it was him from 1955 who dressed Marty. Does this not prove that the time traveler retains their original memories? So no, the Doc living in 1885 wouldn’t know he was going to get shot and killed despite his 1955 counterpart learning of it because 1985 Doc would keep his original memories and originally, Doc is not shot and killed. Makes sense to me anyway.

Why Didn’t Doc Change His Letter?

Doc's Letter

So the reason Marty knows Doc is alive and well in 1885 is due to the letter Doc sends Marty explaining what happened to him and where/when he was. It is this letter that kick starts the whole plot of the third movie when Marty and 1955 Doc accidentally discover that 1985 Doc will be shot and killed while in 1885, the entire reason Marty goes to 1885 to begin with and the reason the DeLorean is damaged and has no fuel to get back to 1985. So here’s a good question…when in 1885, why doesn’t Doc just alter his letter after learning of what will happen to inform Marty of the problems with the time machine, why doesn’t he ask Marty to bring some gas with him from 1955? If you think about it, writing a letter to alter the future works seeing as that is exactly what Marty did in the first film to inform Doc that he will be shot by the Libyan terrorists.

The first problem with this is that by the time Marty gets to 1885, Doc had already written the letter and given it to Western Union to be delivered to Marty in 1955…so he couldn’t really get his hands on it to change it could eh? Yeah he could write another letter I guess, but that brings up another big problem. Just as with messing with the buried DeLorean. Marty is in 1885, the plan worked so why change it? Then there is the whole paradox issue – I mean if Marty brings some gas back with him to use in the DeLorean, then Doc has no need to write a letter asking Marty to bring back gas…so Marty does not bring back any gas, which means Doc has to write a letter telling Marty to bring back some gas, if Marty brings some gas back with him to use in the DeLorean, then Doc has no need to write a letter asking Marty to bring back gas…so Marty does not bring back any gas…and so on. Its a paradox. Best to just leave things as they are then.

Marty’s Hand And The Car Accident

Rolls Royce

So in the second film we learn that Marty gets involved in a race with Needles which results in Marty crashing into a white Rolls Royce in which he breaks his hand. It is this injury that causes Marty to stop playing the guitar leading to the not so impressive future depicted in the movie. At the end of the third picture, Marty avoids this race and crash by not raising to Needles calling him a chicken, something he learns not to react to after his time in 1885. But here is the plot hole, Marty avoids getting into the race at the end of the film after picking up Jennifer from leaving her on the porch in the second film…but Jennifer would not have been left on the porch in the original timeline where Marty crashes breaking his hand. So if Marty had no reason to go pick up Jennifer in the original timeline, then he wouldn’t have meet Needles, there wouldn’t have been a race and there never would have been a crash to begin with.

This one had me scratching my head for a while I admit, but I think the answer lies in the original flick. A sub-plot in the film is that Marty and Jennifer were going away camping to the lake for the weekend. The race and crash happen on Sunday, so taking the original timeline into account – couldn’t Marty have been involved in the crash originally AFTER taking Jennifer home after their trip to the lake? Its never said that Jennifer was with Marty during the crash of the original timeline, so maybe she wasn’t because Marty had already dropped her off home after their camping trip to the lake and crossed paths with Needles on his way home afterward?

Triptic


So there you have it, a few of the more popular Back to the Future trilogy plot holes I think I’ve managed to cover pretty well. Can you think of any I may have missed, let me know in the comments and I can include them in an edit if I feel they can work out?

Games That Aren’t Based On Movies…Honest!

When it comes to gaming, the movie license genre can be very hit or miss – with many, many more misses than hits. For every awesome GoldenEye 007 there’s a dozen or so Charlie’s Angels, Fight Club, Batman Forever and so on. The main thing about the movie licensed game is timing as developers/publishers want the game out in shops when the movie is in the cinema. A good film can result in a well selling game regardless of quality. Another factor of the licensed game is the cost as money has to go toward not only developing the game itself and paying all those wages of everyone that works on it, but there is also the cost of the licence itself. The bigger and more famous the movie, the more the studio want for the licence to make a game based on it. So what if a developer doesn’t really feel like paying for a movie license? Just make the game anyway and change a few details and claim the game is ‘inspired by’ instead of ‘based on’.

So here I’m going to take a quick look at a few games that are very clearly ‘inspired by’ movies but most definitely not ‘based on’ them…honest!

Werewolves of London

Werewolves of London.jpg

Developed by Viz Design and released for the  ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64 in 1987. Interestingly, the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC versions were released on the same cassette as a ‘flippy’ with the Spectrum version on one side and the Amstrad on the other, probably to save production costs.

The basic plot of the game has you playing as a character who is cursed with Lycanthropy and you have to find the people who put the curse on you and kill them. An interesting action game with some light strategy elements. But the game was released unfinished as original publisher, Ariolasoft ended up going bankrupt. You play as a human but when the in-game timer hits midnight, your werewolf side comes out. This is when you are hunted by the folk of London as well as the police. The more people you kill and the more active the police become. Avoid the police and kill those who put the curse on you to win the game.

Werewolf of London Poster

I suppose that 1981’s An American Werewolf in London would be the obvious reference with this game and there are definitely elements of the film in there. But I think it’s biggest influence would be the 1935 flick, Werewolf of London. The plot of the film features a character who is bitten by a werewolf while on an expedition to Tibet and infected with Lycanthropy. Back home in London and he manages to track down the person/werewolf who bit him, who is now in London and seeks his revenge.

Alien Breed

Alien Breed.jpg

A simple top-down arcade shooter that takes inspiration from the arcade classic Gauntlet but wearing a nice Sci-Fi hat. Developed and published by Team 17 in 1991 originally for the Amiga – though other ports soon followed. Alien Breed became a successful franchise with numerous sequels, updates and even remakes.

The game has a simple enough goal of getting the the end of the level to progress to the next. The goal itself may be simple but actually achieving it is not as each level is full of aliens and locked doors to hinder your progress. Thankfully each level is littered with power-ups and credits that you can pick up and spend in terminals to buy new weapons and upgrades.

Aliens

Do I really need to mention which film(s) this game series is inspired by? Alien and its sequel Aliens are the all too obvious influences here. In fact the original Alien Breed game was so much like the Alien films (in particular the alien designs and weapons) that developer Team 17 actually approached 20th Century Fox who own the Alien film rights and asked for permission to make the game, which Fox happily agreed to. So Alien Breed is technically approved by but not based on the Alien films.

I feel a couple of honorable mentions need to go to Alien Syndrome and the Contra franchise who’s games are also very clearly influenced by the Alien films.

Zombi

Zombi

Ubi Soft are one of the biggest developer/publishers working today with successful franchises such as Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry and Watch Dogs to name a few. Back in 2012 they released a zombie survival game called Zombi U for the Nintendo Wii which was later ported to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox 360. Not many people know that Zombi U was actually a reboot of their very first game released back in 1986, Zombi.

An action/adventure game where you control four protagonists who find themselves stuck in a huge shopping mall full of zombies. You must scavenge the mall for anything to help you battle the unrelenting zombie hordes. Search shops for guns and supplies as you fight to keep your four heroes alive and find fuel for an awaiting helicopter on the roof to make your escape.

Dawn of the Dead

All of this should sound very familiar to any self-respecting horror film fan. Ubi Soft’s Zombi is basically an unofficial game version of the George A. Romero classic zombie flick Dawn of the Dead. Its the exact same plot and the game features several elements taken directly from the film including using trucks to block the entrances to the mall and a gang of bikers who turn up adding to the zombie chaos. Just as an interesting aside, the movie Dawn of the Dead was re-titled Zombi for some European counties including France where Ubi Soft originated from.

Speaking of Dawn of the Dead…

Dead Rising

Dead Rising.jpg

Capcom released the first Dead Rising in 2006 with the latest in the series released in 2016. Several spin-offs and remakes have been released along the way too. All in all, Dead Rising is a pretty successful franchise in its own right. Each game has its own unique setting, but its the first game in the franchise that we need to take a look at here.

Playing as photojournalist, Frank West – you find yourself in a shopping mall that becomes overrun with zombies. Explore the mall, search shops for weapons and save survivors along the way…any of this sound familiar?

Yup, we have another zombie survival game inspired by Dawn of the Dead. In fact, Capcom were so worried about facing backlash form George A, Romero that the original print run for the game came with a disclaimer on the cover that read:

“This game was not developed, approved or licensed by the owners or creators of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.”

Dead Rising Disclaimer Cover.jpg

While Dead Rising only used a similar setting to Dawn of the Dead (unlike Ubi Soft’s Zombie with just ripped it off completely – story and all), you still feel the George A. Romero influence throughout and despite what Capcom may claim, its pretty obvious that Dawn of the Dead was a major inspiration.

Shadowrun

Shadowrun

So there have been several Shadowrun games over the years but I’ll be looking at the SNES version for this one. The games are most directly based on the tabletop RPG board game series but that itself is inspired by a certain movie. The SNES version of Shadowrun was released in 1993 by developer Beam Software.

Set in a cyberpunk-fantasy, dystopian future where you play as a Jake Armitage who wakes up in a morgue with complete memory loss and has to investigate who he is and why he woke up in a morgue. Jake explores the city interrogating civilians and being attacked by cybernetically enhanced humans.

Blade Runner

Story wise, they are nothing alike (the story is actually based on the first Shadowrun novel – Never Deal with a Dragon) but its the setting and overall look that makes Shadowrun very, very similar to the 1982 Sci-Fi classic Blade Runner. The look of the characters, the lexicon the dialogue is written in, the weapons, the overall art style, etc all have a very distinct Blade Runner look and feel to them and all make the SNES version of Shadowrun one of the best (none) Blade Runner games.

Another couple of notable mentions to the games Snatcher and Syndicate as other Blade Runner-esque titles.


There are several other games that are quite clearly ‘inspired by’ other movies, but I’ll save those for another time.