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By Peter Oberth

Get it Right: Back to the Future, Part II

Back to the Future is one of the best trilogies of all time.  You can keep your Godfather, I'll take BTTF any day.  Of course, just like Godfather, fans would rather not mention the third installment, so we will just say it's a duology and ignore Doc and Marty's travels to the Wild West in Part III.  Personally, I like futuristic movies, if only for the campiness and completely incorrect predictions of what is to come of this planet and humanity.  This easily makes Part II my favorite of the tril....duology and, in preparation for the slew of futuristic sci fi fair we have coming our way (Oblivion, Elysium, After Earth), we examine what Back to the Future got wrong and the few things they surprisingly nailed.  True, the "future" in Back to the Future, Part II hasn't happened yet but we are a mear 2 1/2 years away now and some things can be squashed with relative ease, others will need a little help.  Oh, and yes, the future is October 21, 2015, don't believe that random posting and "screenshot" that pops up every few weeks claming today is the day...

Real date in Back to the Future, Part II (October 21, 2015) Screenshot

So skipping past the beginning of the movie that was essentially the end of the first movie, Marty and Doc find themselves 30 years in the future in a broken down back alley.  No surprise, the world seems to have a problem with garbage storage (+1 Point for accuracy) so there are what appears to be bails of garbage behind these stores:

Behind Marty, we see what appears to be hundreds of big silver records.  With laserdisc being in its infancy and the technology seemingly light years ahead, the filmmakers assumed that this was the future of home viewing.  Well, at least the future until 2015 when everyone would trash them in large amounts.  Laserdisc led the way to DVDs and to Blu-Rays and soon to digital files.  Though this was a valiant attempt, the thought that a media technology would actually last 30 years before becoming obsolete was a pretty, well, stupid prediction.  Laserdiscs never made their way into more than 2% of households and by the turn of the millennium, they were gone.  I'm not even sure enough were produced during that time to make this much trash out of them.  -1 Point.  OVERALL SCORE: 0

Self tying shoes.  This one is tricky.  Technically Nike did produce these for a charity sale in very small numbers to benefit Michael J. Fox's charitable efforts in 2011.  The shoes didn't tie themselves but upstart designer Blake Bevin did create a prototype version and she raised money on Kickstarter to fund the creation of the actual shoes.  With 2 1/2 years, it will likely be more of a novelty but, with the Nike shoes actually going into production and self-tying shoes actually being produced, we'll have to mark this one up as a successful prediction (+1 Point).  OVERALL SCORE: +1

When this movie came out, USA Today was a baby in the newspaper game, being created only 7 years prior.  It did in fact become the number 1 newspaper as stated on the front under the logo and it looks like it will remain that way in the foreseeable future.  The amazing part here is that nobody in the 80s probably saw the end of "day-old" print news coming and the popularity of the internet so if this movie was made, say in 1997, it probably would have predicted that the hard copy newspaper would be gone.  Surprisingly it hasn't, even in the wake of competitor's crumbling and I don't see it going anywhere in the next 30 months, though the future is likely bleak.  As for some of the headlines.  A slight change in the 2008 preliminaries could have easily seen Hilary Clinton getting the nomination over Obama and put up a good fight for the Presidency, but they still fell short on the "President says SHE'S tired" byline, though possibly only by a year as Clinton is currently the frontrunner to take the office in many observers eyes (-1 Point).  Despite the female Presidential guess, the prediction that hard copy newspapers would survive through 2015 is a bold guess and likely correct. (+1 Point)  As for another byline saying that "Marshall" would run a 3-minute mile.  We are getting closer as the current world record is 3 minutes 43 seconds.   There is a famous "Marshall" runner in the midst right now, that being marathon runner Marshall Ulrich though he is not one to run a mile at a time but rather marathons at a time, but it's still worth pointing out.  The likelihood that the 3 minute barrier will be broken in the next 30 months is unlikely but not impossible so this one has to be marked up as neutral.  OVERALL SCORE: +1

Which brings us to this famous prediction, and an interesting one.  The movie boldly predicts that the Chicago Cubs would win the World Series in 2015 against a generic "Miami" team.  First, the odd thing here is that the newspaper says that the Cubs "Sweep Series in 5", whatever that means.  A sweep would be in 4, so they would have to expand to a 9-game series or admit a typo.  (-1 Point).  Miami had no baseball team at this time and it wasn't until 1993 that Florida even had one when the Marlins became an MLB team from the minor leagues (+1 Point).  And even more interesting tidbit?  In 2012, the Florida Marlins officially became the Miami Marlins so the prediction of a Miami team became true (+1 Point), though the gator has nothing to do with them, good guess though.  With that, another issue came about.  The Cubs play in the National do the Marlins so they couldn't face eachother in the World Series unless one team were to jump ship soon, and those things are usually announced a few years in advance.  The Cubs are in the second year of a massive rebuilding process so with young blood coming in and big draft picks coming....they probably still won't be good in 2015, but you never know, right?  They did point out that it was a 100-1 shot and it was unpredictable. (-1 Point).  OVERALL SCORE: +1

This screenshot outside the "Cafe 80's" shows a U.S. Mailbox.  The interesting thing here is that it is clearly rebranded saying "Pac Fax".  Everyone knows that the USPS is on the brink of destruction and there has been talk of shuttering it or taking it private.  Could this be a privatization of the U.S. Mail?  Will Pac Fax emerge as the suitor?  Or perhaps FedEx's attempts to takeover will result in an anti-trust name change in order for the takeover to happen?  Either way, this USPS business is likely to come to a head in the next 30 months.  (+1 Point)  OVERALL SCORE: +2

Here was a very ambitious addition by Steven Spielberg.  Jaws came out in 1975, Jaws 2 came out in 1978.  Jaws 3 (The Revenge) didn't come out until 1987.  Obviously, this was an inside joke but regardless, Spielberg better start pumping out Jaws movies like there is no tomorrow in order to get to #19 by October 2015.  By my calculations, he needs to release one about every 2 weeks or so until then in order to get there.  Not very likely.  (-1 Point)  OVERALL SCORE: +1

So close on this one yet so far.  I commend the filmmakers for not making a price of gasoline visible and the thought that Texaco would last was a seemingly smart decision.  Though a few still exist around the country, Chevron officially rebranded the company to Chevron in 2012 so any NEW Texacos will not be getting built any time soon.  (-1 Point)  OVERALL SCORE: 0

This is the "antique store" in which Marty purchases his Almanac (where he got his future money, I don't know).  But the curious thing here is that Magnavox box.  What is it?  It almost appears to be a cell phone with a smart screen and slide out keyboard, this in the days of the famous Zac Morris brick cell phones.  Way ahead of its time.  I showed it to a few other people, and a wristband and calculator of some sort were also guesses but I insist on believing that they somehow knew the future of the market.  It's a slide-out keyboard cellphone, I'm calling this one, no arguments:

Sure, Magnavox cell phones were bought out by Motorola but it's still kind of cool, whatever that thing is.   (+1 Point)  OVERALL SCORE: +1

I think this bottle is actually kind of cool.  It's called "Pepsi Perfect" which doesn't exist....yet.  The curious thing is that on the Soda menu, there is a certain kind of Pepsi listed...Pepsi Max, which didn't exist until 2007.    (+1 Point)  OVERALL SCORE: +1

Ahh, the Hoverboard, made by Mattel.  No, we still can't Hover on a skateboard size-board and likely won't be able to by 2015 (-1 Point) but Mattel did release a replica that "glides" on surfaces.  And, though the reviews for the release were absolutely awful, it did technically come out.  (+1 Point)  OVERALL SCORE: +1

Automated paparazzi?  How about a media camera on wires?  Close enough right?  The NFL debuted cameras that follow players on the field and are pretty damn accurate:

I say this is definetely a step toward this technology.  (+1 Point)  OVERALL SCORE: +2

Fingerprint entry to your house from AT&T.  Yes, fingerprint entry exists, fairly cheaply, for homes (+1 Point).  But, the cooler thing here is that AT&T wasn't in the home security business at this time and showed no interest in doing so.  It wasn't until mid-2012 that they finally entered the game, test marketing their "Digital Life" in the Atlanta market which includes packages with fingerprint access.  Their goal is to expand it into a billion dollar business and be in every home across the country.    (+1 Point)  OVERALL SCORE: +4

Massive flat panel TVs light enough to hang on a wall.  Yes and yes.  As for the "Super Inflatable TIT", only time will tell on that one but I've seen weirder infomercials.  (+1 Point)  OVERALL SCORE: +4

Dogs walking themselves?  Not quite (-1 Point).  Light up "safety" curbs?  Yes.  They haven't hit U.S. yet, but "glow" paint technology that charges from the sun during the day is appearing in certain areas of the Middle East.  (+1 Point)  OVERALL SCORE: +4

The expanding small food into big food gimmick.  Used in a number of sci fi movies (including Fifth Element), it is not a technology that is quite here.  Though we do have "hydrating" technology, it's not to this magnitute nor does it seem like it will be.  Too bad, I can go for some quick Pizza Hut.  (-1 Point) OVERALL SCORE: +3

A phone that runs through your glasses?  Unless you've been sleeping under a rock, you have heard of Google Glass.  Not only can you take video phone calls, you can jump on the internet, check traffic, get directions and more.  (+1 Point) OVERALL SCORE: +4

Oh, and of course, flying cars.  We all want them, regardless of the massive safety implications, but they ARE technically here so I can't knock off a point on this one.  It's such a promise in futuristic movies though that I can't give it a positive either since the ones that are here are just functioning prototypes and for the uber-rich.  For shame.

So, despite the awful 80s clothes and refashioned Ford Probes and Jeep Wranglers, this movie actually held up surprisingly well and made a few amazing predictions.  It has a few missteps but a +4 score?  Not so bad for a 30-year jump.