How Did Critics React to Back to the Future's 2015?

We dig into the archives for a glimpse at what critics thought of our Future.

by | October 20, 2015 | Comments


Oct. 21, 2015 is nigh upon us, and many of the innovations imagined  in Back to the Future Part II — from tablet computers to video conferencing — have come to pass. Sure, not every prediction came true; Jaws 19 has yet to be released, teenagers aren’t pulling their pants pockets inside out, and the Cubs still haven’t won the World Series (though they’re in the National League Championship Series at the moment). We couldn’t help but wonder: what did film critics of 1989 think of the futuristic Hill Valley? We dug deep into the archives to find out.



“The different visions of alternate times and realities are imaginatively staged with intricate sets and slick visual techniques. The best of them is a Hill Valley dominated by Biff, who has used his ill-gotten information about the outcome of sporting events to amass a fortune. He’s become a nightmarish (more nightmarish?) version of Donald Trump, converting the town into a neon-lit casino town ruled by greed and power.” — Gary Thompson, Philadelphia Daily News, Nov. 22, 1989



“I also liked the portrait of what 2015 might be like; among other predictable things, Jaws 19 is playing at the local movie theater.” — David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 4, 1989



The future brings a Black & Decker hydrator oven that in seconds turns a three-inch disk into a hubcap-size pizza, and A.T.& T. provides video phone calls complete with vital statistics about the person who’s calling.” — Janet Maslin, New York Times, Nov. 22, 1989



“A theme-park-like future awaits. Conceived by an army of set designers, special effects wizards and costumers, the suburban paradise of 1985 California has become a popsicle-colored landscape filled with mellow moppets and refugees from the post-apocalypse of The Road Warrior. Don’t worry, you can still pick up your USA Today on any street corner.” — Rita Kempley, Washington Post, Nov. 22, 1989


“From the standpoint of the preview audience, the neatest thing about Back to the Future Part II are those super-bad future-shoes worn by Michael J. Fox when he drops in on his hometown in the year 2015. The crowd gasped in admiration at the way these high-tops fastened themselves in a WHOOSH around Fox`s ankles.” — Candice Russell, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Nov. 22, 1989



“[This] version of the future promises power shoelaces, dust-repellent paper, ’80s nostalgia, and no lawyers.” — Ira Robbins, Entertainment Weekly, May 25, 1990



“When Marty hops aboard a skateboard ‘hovercraft’ for a zany futuristic reprise of the famous chase scene from the first film, it works as both self-spoofery and imaginative invention.” — Chris Hicks, The Deseret News, Nov. 24, 1989



“The picture begins brightly enough, with a visit to a typical suburb of 2015 where things seem just as mindless and superficial as they did in 30 years earlier, although now the Cubs have won the World Series.” — Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune, Nov. 22, 1989



“Among the collection of futuristic fad-gadgets (airborne skateboards, clothes that blow-dry themselves), look for a hydratable mini-pizza from a well-known chain, a new improved (and M.J. Fox-sponsored) soft drink and an equally famous running shoe that tightens itself (‘I want a pair of those shoes,’ said a moviegoer at a sneak screening).” — Desson Thomson, Washington Post, Nov. 24, 1989



“At the same time there’s also quite a strong undercurrent of bleakness. The shopping mall Consumerville of 2015 — all video screens, holograms and a middle-aged Marty being fired by his Japanese boss — is hardly enviable for all its hi-tech trimmings.” — Tom Tunney, Empire Magazine, August 1990

And here’s a look back at what lengths we had to go to in order to catch a movie in 1989:


Back to the Future, Part II tells a complicated tale, sections of which will be virtually incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t watched (or doesn’t remember) Part I. If you’re in that unfortunate category and you have any intention of seeing the new movie, go immediately to your favorite video store and rent the original. If you don’t have a VCR, I hope you saw the broadcast of Back to the Future on NBC last Friday. (If you missed that broadcast and don’t have access to a VCR, your best bet is to find a time machine, set the dial for 1985, and see the first film there.)” — Jay Boyar, Orlando Sentinel, Nov. 22, 1989

  • Arsene Kuri

    I like the last one 😀

    • DanOne

      Yeah that’s so funny. It’s like dude just stream it.

      • Arsene Kuri

        Yeah 😀

  • William Gates


  • Sam Mills

    Great article! Even though not all the predictions came true, the film is still relevant. The “Back to the Future” films exists in a different universe than our own. Even within the film, there are alternate realities. It stands to reason that we exist in a reality where the inventor of the flying car was never born.

  • Skaught

    I find it funny that people think this movie was trying to predict the future. Everything in it is either a joke about the ’80s, a joke about the ideas we had of the future in the ’80s, or a joke about the original film. Even the filmmakers said they intentionally tried to steer clear of making actual predictions because the movie wouldn’t stand the test of time.

    So yes, there is a wave of ’80s nostalgia going on, for example, but that’s not why they put that stuff in the film. They put it in there to mock people, that the things we found so innovative then would be long gone in 30 years.

    • Stop reading comments now. I agree with this one and I’m never wrong. You saved me 30 minutes and argued my point better than I was going to anyway. So, thanks two times. This post only took me 4 minutes.

  • Alex

    hello, im from the future… 2025

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