Review: Weird Science & Back to the Future – Episode I

January 28, 2011

Weird Science is one of those few movies that seems to age well. It is one of the quintessential movies of the 1980s, standing strong alongside sci-fi comedy giants like Back to the Future and Short Circuit. The story is essentially a teenage version of Frankenstein, set in 80s suburban Illinois.

The film starts with Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) fantasizing about the girls in the gym. While they’re lost in thought, they are pantsed by school bullies Ian and Max, played by Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Rusler. After watching Frankenstein, they’re inspired to create a simulation of a woman, using Wyatt’s computer. A huge lightning storm throws the plan off, and their fantasy girl comes to life. Meanwhile, they have to deal with Wyatt’s brother Chet (Bill Paxton), home from military school and a weapons grade douche. Hijinks ensue, lessons are learned, and a good time is had by all.

I have to say, this is the first time I’ve seen this movie, and I loved it. It’s a showcase of the consistent quality of John Hughes’ abilities as a writer and director. (At least until Home Alone 3. I mean seriously, what the hell happened there?) As with most of Hughes’ teen comedies, it takes place in the fictional Shermer, Illinois. It also has what I believe to be one of the funniest scenes ever committed to film: A drunken Anthony Michael Hall talking like a black jazz musician. Just imagine this scrawny, incredibly white kid saying things that wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of Chappelle’s Show, and I dare you not to just bust out laughing. It’s iconic, it’s hilarious…it’s an example of John Hughes at his very best. If you find a copy, I would highly recommend you buy it. It’s just flat-out fun to watch.


Honestly, I was skeptical when I heard that Telltale Games was making a Back to the Future game. Companies have tried before, with varying levels of success. Most of them have been massively disappointing. I thought this one might end up that way too, until I saw the trailers. Bob Gale, co-writer of the trilogy, worked with Telltale in developing the story, although the biggest coup might have been Christopher Lloyd lending not only his likeness, but also his voice. Michael J. Fox, unfortunately, was otherwise engaged, but with newcomer AJ LoCascio voicing Marty, it’s like he never left.

The game starts with the events of Temporal Experiment #1, seen through Doc’s camcorder. After the Delorean makes fire trails, the game introduces you to the dialogue system. You choose from three different things you can say, although if you’re a huge fan of Back to the Future, you’ll have the most fun quoting the movie. After the time machine doesn’t return, the movement system is introduced. Marty mentions that something isn’t right here, and Doc Brown begins to fade from the timeline, slowly being erased from existence.

Then Marty wakes up, and the game proper starts. It’s March, and Doc has been gone for six months. The bank is holding an estate sale in Doc’s garage/laboratory/home, and the city is hell-bent on turning his land into a parking lot. Oh, and the sale is being run by George, who is trying to make sure that Doc’s items are “treated with a modicum of respect”. I’m not going to spoil any more, suffice it to say that you have to rescue Doc from Prohibition-era Hill Valley.

I’ve got to say, I was surprised with both how fun this game is, and how true it is to the movies. The reputation that Telltale Games has about the quality of their licensed games is well-deserved, and with four more episodes coming, I would highly recommend looking into all of them.

Liked the review? Think I’m an idiot? Have a movie or game you’d like me to review? Let me know in the comments, or drop me a line at gameandamovie@gmail.com.


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