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Author Topic: Time Ripples, Alternate Realities and Back to the Future  (Read 688 times)

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Offline evil_genius_180

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Time Ripples, Alternate Realities and Back to the Future
« on: February 26, 2013, 03:07:37 pm »
This is a continuation of a discussion started in the "Moons of Pluto" thread.  Rather than hijack that thread, I'm starting a new one.  NCC1701D brought up alternate realities, and I mentioned Doc Brown's explanation of the creation of an alternate reality in Back to the Future Part II.  Mirror responded that the film has a major problem in that regard, and I agree.  In fact, all of those films suffer from some problems but, for the most part, the fake science is mostly valid.

For starters, there are typically two things that happen in Science Fiction when someone interferes with a time line, an they're either time ripples or the creation of an alternate reality.  With time ripples, the effects of changing the time line ripple through like ripples on a pond and affect the time line from the point of change on forward.  Lots of movies, including Timecop and the Back to the Future trilogy use time ripples.  For those who don't like ripples, there's the creation of an alternate reality, or alternate time line.  In that theory, when someone goes back in time and interferes, the time line is altered and that alteration creates a fork that continues parallel to the original time line.  Both time lines still exist and they're separated by a dimensional barrier.  An example of this is JJ Abrams' Star Trek.  His forked reality exists in parallel to the real Star Trek reality.  Typically, these phenomenons aren't used in the same movie or franchise (except Star Trek. :P)  However, they're both used in Back to the Future Part II and this creates some issues.

For starters, in the first film, when Marty goes back in time to 1955, he interferes with his parents first meeting.  This puts their future and the future of him and his siblings in jeopardy, so the changes ripple forth and the picture he has of him and his siblings is altered as they begin to disappear in the order of their births, his brother, his sister and then him.  Of course, in the end, he fixes things and makes them even better so that, when he returns to 1985, his parents are together and in a better place than they were in the film's beginning.  This all happens in a single time line.

On to the second film.  This film also uses the time ripple.  When Marty goes forward to the year 2015, he fixes a mistake that his son makes that jeopardizes the future of his whole family and you see the results in the newspaper.  However, while he's in 2015, Biff goes back in time to 1955 and changes the time line.  However, instead of using the ripple effect, they decided to create an alternate reality.  This immediately causes some issues.  First, Biff creates the alternate time line, yet he's able to return to the future in the original time line.  Yet, when Doc and Marty go back in time from the unaltered time line, they cross into Biff's alternate time line.  For starters, why create an alternate time line then but at no other time in the trilogy?  Also, how is it that the DeLorean, which is only a time machine, can apparently also cross dimensions into alternate time lines?  You're talking about giving the time machine capabilities it didn't have before.  In the other instances, when it travels through time, it stays in the same time line.  While it's a fun film, these are interesting choices on the part of the filmmakers.

In the third film, they're back to time ripples only, no creation of alternate realities.  I don't know if that's what Mirror had in mind when mentioning problems with the film, but that's what I've come up with.  ;)

Offline Mirror

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Re: Time Ripples, Alternate Realities and Back to the Future
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2013, 03:24:43 pm »
Yes. What I meant was that in 2015, when Biff goes back in time and gives his younger self the sports almanac, changing the future, and he is able to go back to the future, to his own timeline which hasn't been altered, while Doc and Marty can't do that. In my opinion, the old Biff would not be able to travel to his own reality, but to another one where he would be rich and powerful. That's the mistake I meant.

Another thing is that in the altered 1985 Marty would be studying in Switzerland (that was in the Spanish version, maybe in the original would be another country, I don't know), which would make impossible for him to be with Doc and travel with the DeLorean. This might not be a mistake, I assume there are two Martys in that altered timeline, one studying in Switzerland and another one who has travelled to that altered timeline.

Offline Mirror

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Re: Time Ripples, Alternate Realities and Back to the Future
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2013, 03:34:25 pm »
By the way, another thing. Jenniffer is left in the altered 1985 and appears again in the restored time. While Doc gives a clever explanation for that, it does not work for me. Jenniffer would be stuck in the altered timeline.

Still with those mistakes, I love Back to the Future, all parts.

Another thing, but that's not so important. In part III, when Marty travels to 1885 from 1955, the old Doc should remember that he helped Marty to fix the DeLorean, the same as when in part I he remembers everything  in 1985 of what happened in 1955.

Offline evil_genius_180

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Re: Time Ripples, Alternate Realities and Back to the Future
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2013, 04:39:52 pm »
Yes, when Doc and Marty travel to the altered 1985, the altered reality Marty is studying in Switzerland.  However, the Marty with Doc is from the original reality, so there are two of them in that time line.  There's also another Doc Brown in the altered time line that's in an insane asylum.

The Jennifer issue is definitely a problem.  The theory for her returning to her proper reality would involve the ripple effect but, since there's an alternate reality in place, she would remain in that reality.  And there's also another Jennifer in that reality too.  According to the multiverse theory, that reality would continue on even after Marty destroys the book.  They would have to take her back to 1955 with them, repair the time line, then take her to 1885 and back to 1985.  This is why picking that time to create an alternate reality is problematic to the movies.  If they'd stuck with the ripple effect, they'd have been fine.  Of course, then they'd also have to have changed 2015 and have Doc and Marty find out much sooner that something had been changed.

Doc not remembering helping Marty in 1955 (again) and putting him in that ridiculous outfit has bugged me for years too.  With the ripple effect, he would have remembered those events.  He should also have remembered finding out about his impending death.  Also, when they destroy the tombstone, why does it change to an empty plot?  I'd have thought someone would have been buried there and the picture would have changed to a different tombstone.  ;)

But, yeah, they're still great movies.  Three of my favorites.  ;D
« Last Edit: February 26, 2013, 04:43:40 pm by evil_genius_180 »

Offline Mirror

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Re: Time Ripples, Alternate Realities and Back to the Future
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2013, 04:58:30 pm »
I never thought about the ripple effect. For exemple, 1985, Marty's family is originally less successful and after travelling to 1955 and back to 1985, they are a more successful family. I always thought about that as changing the future, as an alternate timeline (with Marty from the second timeline also travelling through time, that was why they never met). More or less like what we discussed in the thread On the subject of the Star Trek multiverse... where we had Prime Timeline 1, 2, 3... (in Back to the Future, the beginning would be Prime 1, at the end of the first movie would be Prime 2 and at the end of the third movie would be Prime 3) and the alternate 1985 would be the same as the Abrams timeline.


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Offline Mirror

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Re: Time Ripples, Alternate Realities and Back to the Future
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2013, 05:10:56 pm »
Also, when they destroy the tombstone, why does it change to an empty plot?  I'd have thought someone would have been buried there and the picture would have changed to a different tombstone.  ;)
Oh, yes, I thought that too. And the empty fax at the end of part three. This is like the photo where they all disappear, would that photo exist after Marty vanishing? With no one in it?

And why would Marty disappear? I mean, with the Multiverse theory he would just go back to the future where nobody would know him because he was never born (something like in "It's a Wonderful Life").

Offline evil_genius_180

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Re: Time Ripples, Alternate Realities and Back to the Future
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2013, 05:12:45 pm »
According to the Multiverse theory, everything that can happen does happen.  So, it's possible that there are realities where Marty's family is as they are in the beginning of the first film and how they are at the ending.  But they never got into that sort of thing until that brief thing in the second film.  Though, with all of the time traveling and all of the "oops" moments in the films they had to fix, the two of them would have been responsible for the creation of a lot of alternate realities.  :hyst:

I keep thinking about that part in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me:

Austin: "Wait a tick. Basil, if I travel back to 1969 and I was frozen in 1967, presumeably, I could go back and visit my frozen self. But, if I'm still frozen in 1967, how could I have been unthawed in the '90s and traveled back to..."  (goes cross-eyed)  "Oh, no, I've gone cross-eyed."
Basil: "I suggest you don't worry about those things and just enjoy yourself."  (looks at the camera)  "That goes for you all, too."

That pretty much sums it up.  ;)

Offline Mirror

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Re: Time Ripples, Alternate Realities and Back to the Future
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2013, 05:34:29 pm »
By the way, have you ever read parts IV, V and VI, by a fan called Mike Nichols?

http://bttfscripts.blogspot.com.es/2011/06/back-to-future-part-iv-screenplay-by.html
http://bttfscripts.blogspot.com.es/2011/06/back-to-future-part-v-screenplay-by.html
http://bttfscripts.blogspot.com.es/2011/06/back-to-future-part-vi-screenplay-by.html

I read them some years ago, and they are not bad. In fact, it's more about filling with the missing generations of the McFly family (and the Tanners too), but I enjoyed reading them.

Offline evil_genius_180

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Re: Time Ripples, Alternate Realities and Back to the Future
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2013, 05:51:52 pm »
Nope, never even knew they existed. 

Offline Mirror

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Re: Time Ripples, Alternate Realities and Back to the Future
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2013, 09:47:43 pm »
Not going to spoil then, just in case you or anybody else would like to read them, but basically it's the story of Scott McFlay who, in 2015, learns about his dad's time travels and wants to see him coming from 1985 with Doc Brown in the DeLorian as it happened in the second film and... well, just guess what happens with a 15yo boy and a time machine :)  As if his fathers didn't messed it up 30 years earlier! And before you say that Marty McFly's son's name was not Scott... well, you'll have to read it to find out the answer :)


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Offline qoSagh

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Re: Time Ripples, Alternate Realities and Back to the Future
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2013, 10:57:34 pm »
Austin: "Wait a tick. Basil, if I travel back to 1969 and I was frozen in 1967, presumably, I could go back and visit my frozen self. But, if I'm still frozen in 1967, how could I have been unthawed in the '90s and traveled back to..."  (goes cross-eyed)  "Oh, no, I've gone cross-eyed."
Basil: "I suggest you don't worry about those things and just enjoy yourself."  (looks at the camera)  "That goes for you all, too."

Yes but that line was more about poking fun at the way other movies have made the very mistakes we are talking about here. In Austins case, it is actually much more straight forward, Austin gets frozen in 1967 - thaws  in the 1990's -then goes to 1969, so in his relative time line the years are out of order. Now the perception of those years to others would be in strict chronological order, so people who know Austin will remember him in 1967 getting frozen, then having an adventure in 1969, then being thawed in the 1990's. their perception will likely be confusing to them, especially if they do not know about the freezing and thawing.

Offline evil_genius_180

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Re: Time Ripples, Alternate Realities and Back to the Future
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2013, 11:41:24 am »
Austin: "Wait a tick. Basil, if I travel back to 1969 and I was frozen in 1967, presumably, I could go back and visit my frozen self. But, if I'm still frozen in 1967, how could I have been unthawed in the '90s and traveled back to..."  (goes cross-eyed)  "Oh, no, I've gone cross-eyed."
Basil: "I suggest you don't worry about those things and just enjoy yourself."  (looks at the camera)  "That goes for you all, too."

Yes but that line was more about poking fun at the way other movies have made the very mistakes we are talking about here. In Austins case, it is actually much more straight forward, Austin gets frozen in 1967 - thaws  in the 1990's -then goes to 1969, so in his relative time line the years are out of order. Now the perception of those years to others would be in strict chronological order, so people who know Austin will remember him in 1967 getting frozen, then having an adventure in 1969, then being thawed in the 1990's. their perception will likely be confusing to them, especially if they do not know about the freezing and thawing.

I know.  However, I just kept thinking about it, for some reason.  You know how you get a song stuck in your head from time to time?  Same thing.  ;)

As for what applies to this situation, I was referring to Basil's line about not worrying about such things and just enjoying yourself.  Though, it made no sense to post that line out of context, so I posted Austin's line as well.




 

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