REVIEW: He’s gone on Expeditions in search of aviatrix Amelia Earhart, Jesse James’ loot and the lost Incan city of Paititi, but this might just be Josh Gates most entertaining and exciting adventure yet.
In the four-part Expedition: Back to the Future (now streaming on ThreeNow), the former Destination Truth and Ghost Hunters host is joined by actor Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown himself) on a quest to deliver one of the beloved movie trilogy’s iconic DeLorean vehicles to the Michael J. Fox Foundation in time for a charity event.
Really it’s an excuse for Gates to indulge his childhood fantasies in immersing himself in the 1985 “instant classic” that had a profound effect on him and “shaped the way he watched movies” from then on.
But, the result is fun, not only fans of the film (and there are a lot of them), but also motoring enthusiasts and those keen to know more about the inner-workings of Hollywood.
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Yes, this covers a degree of similar ground to The Movies That Made Us and other behind-the-scenes looks at the film series over the years, but it also offers a few new revelations (the prop master spelt Doc Brown’s first name wrong in the 1955 phone book), infectious fanboy enthusiasm from Gates and welcome appearances from some familiar faces.
As well as hilarious cameos from the men who played Goldie Wilson and Principal Strickland (Donald Fullilove and James Tolkan), in the opening episode, there’s also an extended sequence with Lea Thompson (Lorraine Baines McFly), where she produces the dress from the Enchantment Under the Sea dance and generally charms her two visitors – and the audience.
However, the real focus here is on the car, the stainless-steel, gull-winged vehicle’s real-life development and legacy, why and how it was chosen to be the movie’s time machine (instead of the original idea of a fridge) and the modifications that were made to seven of them for their appearances within the three blockbuster movies.
As their mission takes Gates and Lloyd across America, they encounter each of the septet and their eclectic owners (from private buyers to memorabilia and automotive museums) and learn a little about each car’s role within the franchise and how they’ve arrived at their respective current homes.
The tours of the Petersen Automotive and The Hollywood museums are a particular delight, as staff reveal other amazing bits of one-of-a-kind memorabilia (prop plutonium, Marty’s VHS recorder) and detail just how much of a restoration job has been needed in recent years to bring back the sometimes neglected vehicles to something approximating their onscreen sheen.
There is a narrative race against time designed to keep the audience engaged throughout the around 160-minute adventures, but with Gates and Lloyd such an engaging odd couple, that’s hardly necessary.
Expedition: Back to the Future is now available to stream on ThreeNow.