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Welcome to films of futures past, the series where we look at films set in futures that have now past and ask the question, what did they get right? This episode we’ll be looking at sci-fi sequel, Back to the Future: Part 2.
Released in 1989, the film sees Marty (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) travel to the year 2015 to help Marty’s children, but in the process start a chain of events that alter the future and threaten Marty’s family. They must then travel back to the 50s again to restore order. Aside from time travel, the film depicts advancements in technology predicted to exist in 2015. Now that the year has passed, let’s see what they got right.
When Marty, Doc Brown and Jennifer (Elisabeth Shue) first arrive in 2015 they almost hit a taxi cab despite flying in the upgraded DeLorean. That’s because they’ve found themselves on a highway in the sky with many vehicles zipping about in the air and hovering roadsigns.
The concept of flying cars have been tested since the 1940s though the initial ideas were simply a set of wings and a propellor slapped onto a car. Over time though many people have attempted to perfect the design.
By 2015 the closest we’d come to what we see in the movie was the AeroMobil from Slovakia. With a top speed of 110 Knots in the air and 99mph on the road it had a promising future. By 2017 they revealed their fourth version of the vehicle. So, unfortunately flying cars had not become common place by 2015 and we’re yet to witness mid-air collisions on a tropospheric highway
At the McFly residence the older Marty receives a video call via a large screen in the lounge from Needles (Flea). Using voice activation he’s able to answer the call and the two can see each other in real time.
In the 1950s Bell Telephone created a prototype of a two-way video communication system. However, it was only able to transmit one frame every two seconds. Other companies continued to develop video conferencing, but most consisted of large hardware and were very expensive.
It wasn’t until the internet revolution that advancements in telephone technology excelled. By 2015, not only could you make video calls on a computer via services such as Skype, but in 2010 Apple had launched FaceTime allowing you to make calls with the convenience of a smartphone. Back to the Future was slightly behind in that regard.
Storage space in the kitchen can be a frustration, but what if you could dehydrate food to shrink it down only to simply rehydrate it later like Lorraine McFly (Lea Thompson) does with a Pizza Hut pizza in their Black and Decker Hydrator.
Dehydrated foods are common in supermarkets, but mainly consist of fruits and are intended to be eaten dry or hydrated using boiling water. Benefits of dehydrating include reducing weight, packaging and costs to manufacturers and can supply a variety of vitamins and minerals.
We even have electric dehydrators, but unfortunately no hydrators for bringing that freshness back. By 2015, we certainly had no way of dehydrating a pizza, though someone, somewhere at Pizza Hut is no doubt trying.
In order to escape Griff’s (Tom Wilson) gang, Marty steals a hoverboard from a little girl allowing him to hover over land, but unfortunately not water.
Ever since the Mattel hoverboard featured in the film we have been patiently waiting for the reality to arrive. In 1989 many believed they already existed due to a comment by director Robert Zemeckis in a behind the scenes video, stating “They’ve been around for years. It’s just that parents groups have not let the toy manufacturers make them. We got our hands on some and put them in the movie.”
In 2012, Mattel attempted to market a “real” hoverboard which had one significant flaw. It didn’t hover. In 2013 a company called Hendo began prototyping a hoverboard and by 2014 demonstrated the technology alongside Tony Hawk.
Then in 2015 Lexus entered the fray with the Slide. Unfortunately, both will only work on certain types of surface, in the case of the Slide there must be magnets hidden beneath. So, they were close, but for now the only mass produced hoverboards we have are devices that still have wheels.
So, there you have it, Back to the Future: Part 2 attempted to paint a picture of what life would be like in 2015 and unfortunately aside from video calling they were quite far off. The idea of hydrating pizzas is unlikely and we’re still a few years off from hoverboards and flying cars cluttering our streets. We’ll give Back to the Future Part 2 a D.
What are your thoughts on Back to the Future: Part 2’s predictions? Let us know in the comments below.