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    Closed Off Circle 4: A Book Review

    –Corey Wagner


    It usually takes until March or April of each year for me to (mostly) catch up on all of the movies I’m interested in from the previous year. Still, I can’t help but be disappointed by the theatrical releases thus far in 2015. Sure, I absolutely loved Ex Machina and Mad Max: Fury Road, but I’m not sure I could even assemble a top 5 list from the first half (and then some) of this year. Paddington? Kingsmen? It Follows? These movies were all fine, but never at any time while viewing them was I thinking that they would make my top 10 of the year list. Avengers: Age of Ultron was also okay, but I consider it one of the weaker entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I have intentionally avoided the new Jurassic Park and Terminator movies. I still haven’t seen Ant-Man or the trio of highly-reviewed comedies from the past couple months (Dope, Spy, and Trainwreck).


    Completely changing gears: I am an unabashed Back to the Future fan. The Back to the Future films are some of the few movies from my childhood that I still enjoy today (fun fact: I wasn’t actually alive when the first movie came out). 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the original film (and, of course, the year that Marty, Doc, Jennifer travel to in Part II). With that comes a variety of releases. Later in the year the trilogy is being released on blu-ray (again!) with new bonus material, and for the first time ever the animated series from the early 90s is getting released on dvd. A BttF: The Ultimate Visual History hardcover is also coming later in the year. While I am anticipating the release of all of those (I have no memory of the animated series), in the meantime a new “making of” book was released last month.


    Written by Caseen Gaines (who has also authored books on Peewee’s Playhouse and A Christmas Story), We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy makes for a quick read for Future fanatics. Gaines interviewed over 50 people involved with the film(s) in a variety of ways. Some of the interviewees include: Robert Zemeckis (director/co-writer), Bob Gale (co-writer), actors Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown) and Lea Thompson (Lorraine), and many others. Michael J. Fox (Marty McFly) and Crispin Glover (George McFly) are notable (and not surprising) omissions. The book covers both well and lesser-known trivia and, thankfully, expands on many of the more well-known stories. The benefit of interviewing so many of the people involved is that multiple perspectives (and sometimes differing accounts) are given for many of the events discussed in the book.

    An interesting tidbit that I was previously unaware of is that Claudia Wells (Jennifer Parker) was almost not in the film. She had originally been cast in the Jennifer role but scheduling conflicts made her drop out. The role was recast with Melora Hardin now stepping in. Once Eric Stoltz had been replaced with Michael J. Fox, Hardin was considered too tall. The recasting of Marty had caused a delay and now the slightly shorter Wells was available again. Of course, Wells would not be in the sequels and Elisabeth Shue would take over the role. The book also goes into detail about how replacing Eric Stoltz caused the movie’s release to be delayed and caused the film to go over the original budget.


    The book  clocks in at just over 250 pages. Most of the length is devoted to the first film, from the original idea to release. Some of the information here is less than shocking: Michael J. Fox is a really nice guy, Crispin Glover was considered difficult to work with by much of the behind the camera crew but the other actors seemed to like him. My biggest complaint is that the second and third movies are glossed over a bit. The portion of the book devoted to Part II primarily deals with the Crispin Glover lawsuit and the stuntwoman that was injured badly during filming. Part III really only has about a dozen or so pages devoted to it and more or less just says that everyone that worked on the movie had a good time.


    All in all, I found We Don’t Need Roads to be entertaining and I think most BttF fans would enjoy it.


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