It’s been 26 years since Back to the Future Part II was released in cinemas and the time has finally come: October 21, 2015. The day Marty McFly arrived in his future to prevent his son from being imprisoned and accidentally ruined his past and present in the process. Look, we’re not saying don’t save your future son from imprisonment if you have a chance, we’re just saying that the Doctor would probably not loan you the TARDIS for the occasion because things are bound to get messy. Especially if you have a sneaky nemesis looking to make himself rich.
We’ve been looking forward to this date for years, hoping with each passing year that we would get closer to the future that director Robert Zemeckis envisioned. But we’re not there yet. OR ARE WE? Exactly what did Zemeckis predict all those years ago? What did he get totally wrong?
Things that did happen... or at least got close
Zemeckis got a surprising amount of things right about our life in 2015, though there are some slight variations.
1. The evolution of 3D movies and way too many sequels
3D releases are pretty much a given for any blockbuster action feature these days, but thankfully the technology is a bit better than the giant holographic shark that made Marty wish he’d worn his brown undies. Sequels are another thing altogether. Jaws hasn’t made it to 19 movies yet, but a lot of franchises are finding it hard to let go of their money-makers. Usually it results in way too many Ice Age movies or book adaptations being cut in half to make it to four movies but you only have to glance at the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe to see that Zemeckis is not too far off.
2. Paper newspapers still alive and kicking
A while ago, everyone was predicting that paper newspapers would be a thing of the past come 2015. True, most people get their news fix online these days but paper newspapers do still exist, even if they’re not reporting about female presidents (YET) and Princess Diana’s latest goings on.
3. Immersive video games
Immersive video games have a way to go before reaching Back to the Future Part II level, but they do exist. Kinect for Xbox 360 was released in 2010 to widespread excitement… until everyone realised it was going to be a lot like the Nintendo Wii with a focus on encouraging movement rather than letting you kick in a bad guy’s face. The sensor on Kinect for Xbox One has caused some concerns but once this immersive craze gets properly underway Elijah Wood can whip out his flyswatter hat and judge retro games all he likes.
4. Handheld tablet computers
Apple iPads. Samsung Galaxy Tabs. These are everywhere. ‘Nuff said.
5. Video conferencing
Marty McFly looked pretty impressed with the video conferencing technology in 2015 and it’s no wonder, given that everyone in the movie was still pretty obsessed with fax machines. These days we have things like Skype and FaceTime. You might spend the first few minutes shouting, “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?” but it’s here and it can only get better.
6. Watching multiple TV channels
Watching multiple TV channels at the same time is almost common these days. Not all of us have the attention span for that, but there are certain gods who walk among us.
7. Automatic dog walkers
Automatic dog walkers never evolved the way Robert Zemeckis thought they would. Which is probably a good thing if you’re worried about the Rise of the Machines – you don’t need another electronic beastie to fight. Dog treadmills have been around since 1972, or you can always stick your dog on a regular treadmill, maybe get them a bear costume, and watch adorableness ensue.
8. Electronic glasses
Both Marty Junior and his sister, Marlene, use video glasses in Back to the Future Part II to watch TV or take a phone call. Back in 1998, Sony Glasstron was released and it was pretty similar to the clunky headsets in the movie. These days we have Google Glass - well sort of, given their lack of popularity - which looks heaps less ridiculous.
9. That bitchin’ hat
Apart from that super disappointing plastic do-nothing “hoverboard” from a few years ago, the closest we have to a mass market hoverboard at the moment is a self-balancing skateboard thingie called the Techweel Z-01 which was just declared illegal to ride on public property in the UK. SORRY, NERDS. You can still ride it around in private but at the moment it’s just too close to a regular motor vehicle. We feel your pain.
Lexus has a hoverboard project underway that looks amazeballs but it requires a special magnetic track and it’s not like we all have those lying around. The Hendo Hover, which retails for about $10,000 US, needs copper to get it going. Who has copper all over the place to use with their electromagnets?
There is one crowd-funded design we’re loving, and it’s called Mr Hoverboard. Powered by regular leaf blowers, you can float over most hard surfaces on a futuristic board. For only $420 US, you can get your own Mr Hoverboard kit. It’s not quite as sleek as the one from Back to the Future Part II, and you have to put it together like a piece of IKEA furniture and supply your own leaf blowers, but this is something that regular humans could make work. Anything that gets us a step closer to playing Quidditch in our lifetime. ANYTHING.
11. Pepsi Perfect
Pepsi knows what it’s doing. To coincide with Back to the Future Day, Pepsi are releasing a limited run of Pepsi Perfect. Some gremlins extremely lucky people had the opportunity to get their hands on the first Pepsi Perfect bottles at New York Comic Con earlier this month and my envy knows no bounds.
Keep your eye on Pepsi’s social media accounts to find out how you can get your own bottle of Pepsi Perfect and achieve supreme nerddom like some of us at Style Magazines will be trying to do. In the meantime, check out the Pepsi Perfect ad which shows us just how cool we could have been.
12. Cubs winning the World Series
YOU GUYS! Just last week, the Cubs beat St Louis in the National League Divisional Series to advance to the National League Championship Series. That means they're just one series away from reaching the World Series! Could the Cubbies finally end their 107-year championship drought JUST LIKE THE MOVIE PREDICTED?!
Things that didn't happen
To be honest, out of all the things Back To The Future Part II got wrong, we're most devastated about the Nike sneakers... Because tying shoes is HARD, OK?
1. Flying cars
If we don’t have broomsticks hoverboards yet then no one’s getting a flying car. A company called Aeromobil has designed a car-plane hybrid but we see no end to road tolls in our near future.
2. Dehydrated pizza
We do have dried fruit like sultanas and raisins. And if you’ve ever tried space food then we can only wish you Godspeed and tell you that you need something stronger than water to get rid of that taste. But we don’t seem to be terribly close to getting Back to the Future Part II’s incredible rehydrating pizzas. The blame has to be placed evenly. So Black & Decker, get moving on your hydrator because you’re behind schedule. And Pizza Hut, quit shoving meat pies into crusts and work on more important pizza magic.
3. The coolest Nike MAG sneakers ever
Velcro is passé past primary school and no one’s brought the power shoelace game yet. Nike did release a limited edition set of Back to the Future-inspired MAGs a few years ago to help benefit The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, but those babies were expensive and they sold out quickly. Plus, they were missing one very important feature: Power Laces.
Tinker Hatfield, original designer of the shoes from the movie, declared in January of this year that his team are hard at work trying to deliver the Nike MAG this year. It’s looking less and less likely as the year drags on, but hopefully that future is not too far off. For now, kids are just going to have to quit crying and keep learning to tie their shoes with the bunny ear method.
4. Auto-adjusting and auto-drying clothes
Nope. Not yet. If you accidentally fall off your hoverboard and into a pond then you’re just going to have to put up with the chafing or stand under a regular bathroom hand dryer like the rest of us. And the most futuristic version of a hand dryer we have so far is one of those Dyson Airblades where you insert your hands. Good luck drying your clothes with that.
5. Fax machines
For the most part, fax machines are a thing of the past. And fax machines in the bathroom are definitely not a cool add-on when designing a home. Electronic communication is still the way to go, but if you want to send someone a barrage of messages telling them that they’re fired, you’ll just have to do it by text or email like a regular 21st-Century jerk.
LaserDiscs went the way of floppy discs but they did pave the way for DVDs and Blu-rays, which are still in use today. If Marty McFly does rock up and needs to stow his unconscious girlfriend in an alley, he’ll have to find a pile of something that isn't LaserDisc stacks behind which to hide her. Sorry, Jennifer.
7. Double ties
No. GOOD GOD, NO. Thankfully this hideous trend has not yet come to pass. Hopefully it never will.
So despite the few misses, turns out Robert Zemeckis was not all that far off the mark when he created Back to the Future Part II. Sure, we have better clothes and hoverboards are still a little way off, but the road to the future has been paved… by some derp who didn’t realise that, where we’re going, we don’t need roads.