Netflix Sci-Fi Comedy Ends Beloved Trilogy On A High Note

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

back to the future part III

It’s unfortunately common for science fiction trilogies to end on a bad note, something we can see with everything from The Matrix Revolutions to The Rise of Skywalker. There are some exceptions to this rule, of course, including a franchise that expertly blended high-concept sci-fi with warm humor and a gentle heart. Back to the Future Part III managed to do the impossible, equalling the quality of the first film and ending this famous trilogy on a high note, and it’s currently available for streaming on Netflix.

Fox Wanted The Wild West

Part of what made Back to the Future Part III so great was that it gave us a dramatically different setting. The first film took us to 1955 and the second to the far-flung future of 2015.

In this third installment, Marty Mcfly and Doc Brown are stuck in the wild, wild West, and they must find a way to stay alive and get back to the future without accidentally ruining the world as they know it.

Interestingly, Back to the Future Part III would likely not have had this setting if not for franchise star Michael J. Fox. During the production of the first film, director Robert Zemeckis asked the young actor what periods in time he would like the film to explore.

Fox responded that he wanted his character to meet cowboys in the Old West, and while both Zemeckis and writer Bob Gale liked the idea, they held off on embracing it until the final film in this trilogy.

Filmed Back To Back With Part II

back to the future part iii

In retrospect, it’s amazing that Back to the Future Part III looks as good as it does because it was filmed back-to-back with the second installment. That fast and frenzied filming proved exhausting to the cast and crew, and Zemeckis got the worst of it when he had to simultaneously edit the second movie and film the third.

Still, the cast clearly had fun riding this franchise off into the sunset, and their sheer joy is palpable onscreen.

Multiple Roles

back to the future part iii

While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, part of Back to the Future Part III’s charm is that several actors play multiple roles throughout the film. Michael J. Fox, for example, plays both Marty McFly and that character’s ancient ancestor, Seamus.

Thomas F. Wilson, meanwhile, plays both the present-day Biff and the former bully’s ancestor, the notorious Mad Dog Tannen. And the effervescent Lea Thompson plays both Marty’s mother Lorraine McFly as well as her ancestor, Maggie McFly.

Lloyd’s Expanded Role

And while he only has one role to play as Doc Brown, Christopher Lloyd is given new things to do in Back to the Future Part III, including falling in love with a teacher played by franchise newcomer Mary Steenburgen.

Their adorable onscreen chemistry is a reminder that Doc has always been a man out of place as well as time, never quite fitting in wherever he travels. Finding the love of his life is profound, helping him to fill a hole inside of himself even larger than the ravine Clara was destined to fall into.

Stream It Now


Fortunately for Universal Pictures, Back to the Future Part III was a commercial and critical hit. It made over $245 million on a budget of only $40 million and currently has an 81 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Those critics praised this movie’s sweet storytelling as well as the fact that the time travel shenanigans were easier to follow than in the second film.

As for me, I’ve always been a big fan of Back to the Future Part III. It wraps up several character arcs and stories that were years in the making, all while delivering a film that stands on its own as engaging cinema.

But don’t take my word for it: pick up the remote and do your own form of time travel by streaming this 1990 sci-fi comedy on Netflix today.