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Film Critique

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Critique: BTTF
Mathew Peppersack
ENG 225 Introduction to Film
Professor Ryan Ogrodnik
March 2, 2015

Critique: BTTF To critique a film is to analyze the substance of what makes up the movie. The story and its plot, characters, technical choices for scenes, and the overall production that the film shown to give the audience a final product. The number of people who visited the movie theater to watch it does not determine greatness of the film; or the amount of money the movie studio made after the budget was settled. A movie is great if it reached a large percentage of the population and that population determined through criticism and good reviews that the movie is worthy to be seen for a second, third, or fourth time. Another justification of greatness is if the film warrants purchasing the film on Blu-ray disc or a digitally copy to put on your computers hard drive. I will be critiquing the 1985 film Back to the Future starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, and Thomas F. Wilson. These are the main characters of the film for which the story revolves around. Michal J. Fox plays the main character, Marty McFly, who travels back in time in a Delorean time machine invented by Christopher Lloyd’s character, Dr. Emmett Brown. Lea Thompson plays Lorraine McFly, Marty’s mother, Crispin Glover plays George McFly, Marty’s father. Thomas F. Wilson is the antagonist as Biff Tannen. There are plenty of supporting roles throughout the film but the main characters will be the focus of the critique. Director for Back to the Future is Robert Zemeckis, he role is to translate the screenwriters story so the actors and crew can carry it out. He is the boss in every stage of the film making process and often receives an outsize measure of credit or the blame. The cinematographer is Dean Cundey, his responsibilities are the look of the film, shot by shot. He is also responsible for the how the camera captures the images and the angles of photography. The shot of the scene, whether it is a full shot of all of the scene or a long shot; a close shot of the actors and or objects leaving some things out of the scene but draws our attention to one portion of it, which is a medium shot. Another view is the extreme close-up or close up of an actor or object that the director wants the audience to notice. Back to the Future is a blockbuster movie; it had a budget of $19,000,000 back in 1985. That translates to $41,267,964.68 in 2015 with todays inflation rate of 117.2%. According to Box Office Mojo, it was the highest grossing film in 1985 with $210,609,762. The second place film, Rambo: First Blood Part II, grossed $150,415,432 that year. So with difference of $60 million I would say that Back to the Future was a blockbuster movie. Out of the top ten highest grossing films of 1985, the only other Sci-Fi film was Cocoon and it made $34 million less than Back to the Future. Back to the Future falls into the Science Fiction, or Sci-Fi, genre of films. This genre defines films that are about the future or alternate realities, often but not always set in space, and frequently incorporate horror elements. It is a subgenre of fantasy films a very popular among fans. The IMDb also classifies Back to the Future in the Adventure and Comedy genres along with Sci-Fi. I would agree with their classification, there are elements of comedy with the dialogue between characters. The action sequences are telling the story of Marty’s adventure through out the film. The story of Back to the Future tells about a teenage boy, Marty, who is an aspiring musician. His best friend is older man who is the town’s nut job but a scientist, Dr. Brown or “Doc”. Marty helps Doc with the first test of his time machine he built from a Delorean motorcar. After the first test, a terrorist shows up at the test site and Marty and Doc have to elude them. The Doc gets assassinated and Marty has to escape before he is killed too. Marty jumps into the Delorean and attempts to outrun the terrorist. In his attempt to out run them, Marty forgets Doc’s previous statement that the Delorean has to reach 88 mph to complete the time travel sequence of adding plutonium, setting the time circuits, and accelerating the car to 88 mph. A famous line from the movie is during the chase when Marty states “Lets see if you bastards can do 90!” Its not until the car reaches around 85 mph that Marty realizes what is about to happen and you can see his expression on his face that he is bracing himself for time travel. After Marty’s arrival to 1955 he seeks out the younger Doc to help him get back to the future. But before he finds the Doc he runs into the teenage versions of his parents and interrupts their initial meeting causing his brother, sister, and himself to be erased from existence. The scene of him getting hit by a car that is driven by Loraine’s father was suppose to happen to George, his father. The result of the accident was supposed to cause Loraine to fall in love with George because her father hit him with the car. But with Marty getting hit by the car, Loraine falls in love with him and pursues Marty through out the film. Doc develops a plan to get Marty back to 1985 by sending a bolt of lighting through wires connected to the towns clock tower that is struck after terrible storm in the towns history. When the storm arrives Doc is trying to finish putting the plan together when things fall apart and he must move fast to put it back on track before the lighting strikes. After the moment when the lighting strikes and the bolt of lighting are channeled into the time machine, Doc is elated and running down the street where the time machine transported to the future. Doc gets a boost of confidence that not all his inventions fail and he can build something that works. Marty returns to 1985 and his life has changed for the better. His parents are closer, his brother and sister appear to have well paying jobs because they are wearing office attire, the interior of the McFly home has upscale furniture, and Marty has a brand new truck waiting for him in the garage. At the beginning of the movie the McFly house was cheap looking with older furniture and with a 1970’s style of adornments. The family car was generic four-door sedan that was wrecked in a car crash driven by Thomas F. Wilson, Biff, his brother appeared to work at Burger King because of the uniform, and his sister was sitting around the house painting her nails with hair rollers atop of her head. When Biff had the car towed home and George confronted Biff about the accident, Biff made excuses and then demanded a work reported from George. After Marty returned from the past George is a successful writer and Biff owns an automotive detail shop. There is a scene where Biff is waxing George’s BMW sedan and asks Biff if he applied two coats of wax, Biff attempts to lie to George about finishing up the second coat and George exclaims, “Don’t con me!” Biff back tracks his statement and says he is just applying the second coat. The tension between George and Biff before Martys time travel was stemming from Biff bullying George from childhood, and George never standing up to him. Marty gave George confidence in high school and when George and Biff had a confrontation, George knocked him out with one punch. That punch changed the course of Georges’ life for the better and he accomplished anything he put his mind to. Back to the Future was filmed in 1985 and used props current for the time period. The clothes and decorum is totally 80’s as the saying goes. The actors wore tight fitting stone washed jeans, popped their collars, and tennis shoes with big tongues. The vehicles use on the set and as props was what you would expect in the 1980’s. The main prop a time machine, was a popular car, the Delorean, a car designed and built by the father of the muscle car era John Delorean. There is a story in itself with how the Delorean came to be. Lighting in the movie is somewhat dark in the beginning before Marty time travels back to 1955. The McFly home with the 70’s décor is dark and depressing. The low-key lighting used before the time travel shows the struggle the McFly’s are going through. High-key lighting is used when a shot of the time machine is in the frame. I believe it was to enhance the view of the Delorean to make it the main focus of the shot. During the scenes of the time machine about to travel in time, the wires and components on the outside of the car light up to an almost blinding white light. This is used to show something spectacular is about to happen and the car is traveling through time. The dark lighting during the climax of the film when Marty is at the clock tower is meant to show the struggle of Doc and Marty trying to make the plan work and the suspense with wires falling apart that the bolt of lighting will travel through to the Delorean. It also helps with setting up the thunderstorm that produces the lighting. The sound and music used in the film help with the story telling by enhancing the mechanical sound of the Delorean traveling through time. A lot of electronic sounds are heard when the time machine turns on and makes it more realistic. It is what you would expect a time machine to sound like if it were real. Music in movie, especially the score is so memorable that if you were to hear it now you would recognize it and know instantly. Editing of Back to the Future was done with the main character as the focal point. It is a movie about time travel but using Marty as the time line to follow. The start is with Marty in the Doc’s lab using the amplifier to play his guitar. The wide shot of Doc’s inventions builds up Docs character to show he is a gifted scientist and that he does build things that operate and work. Then with Marty going to school and his confrontation with the principal telling him he will not amount to anything because no McFly has amounted to anything in the history of Hill Valley. Next its Marty’s audition for the school dance and the teacher telling him he is just too loud. This shows the struggle Marty is going through with his self esteem about playing in a band. The movie is edited to follow Marty during the story showing his journey through time. Back to the Future impacted society in a way that was current for that time. It is Sci-Fi adventure with some comedic parts. During the 1980’s technology was advancing in electronics and society was mesmerized by what the possibilities are with electronics. The cultural impact of the movie was positive; it is what the world was hoping the future would be like. The studio witnessed the public really enjoying what they had seen and turned the story into a Saturday morning cartoon, produced toys and other consumer type products. The studio even did a connecting scene to sequels at the end of the Back to the Future I and Back to the Future II starting the credits with To be continued…. The final movie, Back to the Future III, ended with final the beginning of the final credits rolling with The End. The social effect on society wasn’t apparent in the 1980’s; the movie was just a classic that defined the era. I believe it wasn’t until the 2000’s that society started looking back at Back to the Future as an escape from the current problems we face such as terrorism and the political problems. Most adults today were kids in the 80’s and want to go back to a simpler time when the only worries we had were what kind of cereal we have in the pantry or what’s on MTV. Back to the Future was and will always be a movie that can relate to different generations. At its time of debut, we were not worried about gas prices, the economy, terrorism, and political lines. We just wanted to have a lot of everything and the best of anything. Because the film can relate to everyone and can bring everyone back to better time in their lives, it will forever be the best Sci-Fi film of all time.

References
Box Office Mojo. (2015). 1985 Domestic Grosses. Retrieved from http://boxofficemojo.com/yearly/chart/?yr=1985
Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2014). Film: From watching to seeing (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
IMDb. (1990-2015). Back to the Future. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088763/?ref_=rvi_tt

Reflection A person can gain from analyzing film a deeper meaning about a film. Just watching a movie for the wow factor or the story line is only getting half what the movie is trying to say. You can analyze a film and get better appreciation of what it takes to write a story, script it, produce it, and then film it. There is a lot that goes into filmmaking and a lot of people to make it into something that is enjoyable. I will look at films now not for just the wow factor, but with a sense of what makes the story plausible and enjoyable to watch. I will look for the characters development and if the director built up enough back story for the audience to relate to the character. The meaning of a movie is more about the genre of the film. I would not expect to watch a comedy and feel like I can see the characters struggle and if it can relate to my everyday struggle. I will look at dramas and horror movies differently now, waiting to see if it really fits into that genre or is just a cookie cutter movies so the studio can make a quick buck. Looking back at movies I have seen after taking this course makes me want to re-watch some films. I want to try and find the deeper meanings and judge films with a different set of eyes. I want to see if it truly belongs in that genre. I look at movies that come out now and see that society has influenced the direction of what types of movies are being made and which ones are popular. I would say that comedies and fiction movies are the most popular genres because society wants to escape the realities of today. There is so much pain in the media, people want to forget the pain and enjoy a good laugh. The fiction movies being made today are helping society think about issues that are current and help curb some anxiety everyone is having about the direction of our society.

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Final Film Critique

...(ENG 225 Introduction to Film) Final Film Critique (Due Sept 11, 2012) Review the critical analysis questions in the “Conclusion and Critic’s Resource” section of your textbook. Write an eight to ten page film critique (excluding the cover and reference pages) of an American feature film of your choosing. Use the list of critical analysis questions provided in your textbook as a guide while writing your paper. Areas that must be covered: • Storytelling • Acting • Cinematography • Editing • Sound • Style and Directing • Impact of society on the film and vice versa • Genre • Application of at least one approach to analysis and interpretation • Overall textual themes Writing Tips: • Students must select a film that they have not previously explored in class, either in written assignments or discussion posts. • Students must establish a coherent thesis statement in the introduction of their paper with a claim that they intend to prove. The body of the essay serves to support the thesis through an analysis of the film and other relevant material. Avoid simply rehashing descriptive material from other source. • Support your thesis through textual and formal analysis. Refer to specific shots, scenes, characters, stylistic devices, and themes in the film. • As much as possible, use technical, literary and industry terms to make your points. • If needed, you may use additional resources to support your claims. Suggested sources might include......

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