Blu-ray Review Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Nov 14, 2012.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    The sweet dispositions of the title characters in Stephen Herek’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure are carried over into the tone of the film itself, a goofy gambol through time with two friendly innocents trying their best to amuse. The film’s success rests mightily on the two dudes’ sloping shoulders, and while the comedy could have been much more inventive than the one-joke premise the film sets up, it’s a pleasant, unexacting ninety minutes to spend with these two lovable simpletons.





    Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Blu-ray)
    Directed by Stephen Herek

    Studio: MGM
    Year: 1989
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1   1080p   AVC codec
    Running Time: 90 minutes
    Rating: PG
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 1.0 Spanish
    Subtitles:  SDH, French, Spanish

    Region: A
    MSRP: $ 19.99


    Release Date: November 13, 2012

    Review Date: November 14, 2012




    The Film

    3.5/5


    When they find out that they’re in danger of failing their history class unless they can turn in an A+ oral project, Bill Preston (Alex Winter) and Ted Logan (Keanu Reeves) don’t know where to start. Fortunately for them, an emissary from the future named Rufus (George Carlin) offers them a time machine (in the shape of a telephone booth) which will allow them to visit many different eras in the past and gather together an impressive collection of historical figures to use for their presentation. They manage to snare Socrates (Tony Steedman), Genghis Khan (Al Leong), Joan of Arc (Jane Wiedlin) and Napoleon (Terry Camilleri), Beethoven (Clifford David), Sigmund Freud (Rod Loomis), Billy the Kid (Dan Shor), and Abraham Lincoln (Robert Barron) for their presentation, but managing to keep up with all of them once they get them to present day San Dimas, California, is another story especially since Bill’s angry father (Hal Landon Jr.) is at his wit’s end with his slacker son and is ready to send him to a military academy in Alaska.


    The script by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon has fashioned the two appealing leading figures as high school boys without a speck of malice in their souls, but their adventures in the past as they round up their presenters aren’t mined for very much comic gold at all apart from one sequence in medieval England where they had planned to snag King Henry but are thwarted. The various historical figures come along without much protest and don’t appear to have any problem with strangers speaking a different tongue or wearing clothes that are decidedly 20th century designs. The boys do appear to have learned enough history along the way to be able to present a decent program for the student body at the conclusion of the film (though when they had time to plan any of that with all of the other running around they had to do before show time is anyone’s guess). A fairly lengthy sequence late in the film finds the various historical figures making their way around a typical modern shopping mall with Napoleon getting giddy over a water slide and Beethoven rocking out with modern day synthesizers in a music store. Comic possibilities are certainly strong with fish-out-of-water set-ups but are only minutely developed by the writers and director Stephen Herek. Still, the boys’ bozo mentalities that see the world completely in terms of good (excellent) or bad (bogus) is charming enough to keep the film’s many lapses in logic a non-issue especially since the running time is so brief.


    Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter both float through the film on clouds of naiveté and share a chemistry together that’s matchless making their every word and gesture the backbone of this slender comedy. George Carlin is adequate as the time traveler who offers them a solution to their problem, but those expecting any of Carlin's legendary caustic wit are in for a big disappointment. Of the historical notables, Terry Camilleri’s Napoleon has the most comic opportunities (a bowling alley, a food court, and that waterslide sequence) which he makes the most of. Dan Shor makes a decent Billy the Kid taking the boys under his wing, and Rod Loomis’ Freud has a clever line or two. Bernie Casey plays the boys’ history teacher with infinite patience at their innocent ignorance while Amy Stock-Poynton as Ted’s vivacious stepmom is always a welcome sight, to the boys and the viewer.



    Video Quality

    4.5/5


    The film’s Panavision theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is faithfully reproduced in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Color is wonderfully consistent and richly hued, and flesh tones remain realistic throughout. Sharpness is excellent with contrast dialed in almost perfectly for a very vivid picture. Black levels are very good, and there are no age-related artifacts to spoil the video presentation. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.



    Audio Quality

    4/5


    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix uses David Newman’s music score as the primary surround element in the presentation. There is otherwise a mostly frontcentric spread of music and sound effects that rarely have any presence in the rear channels. Most of the dialogue has been well recorded and placed in the center channel though there is a moment or two of directionalized dialogue.



    Special Features

    3/5


    All of the bonus material has been ported over from previous releases and is presented in 480i.


    “The Original Bill & Ted” is a 20 ¼-minute conversation between writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon as they talk about the origins of the title characters, the developments of the story through various outlines and scripts, the attempts to sell the project at various studios, and their ideas about casting the two leads.


    “Air Guitar Tutorial”  features award-winning air guitarists Bjorn Turoque and the Rockness Monster discussing their “art” along with their ten steps to becoming a successful air guitarist. This runs 13 ¼ minutes.


    “One Sweet and Sour Chinese Adventure to Go” is an episode from the animated television series Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures where the boys go back to ancient China to try to find a copy of a ceremonial jar that accidentally got broken back in present day. This episode runs 23 ¼ minutes.


    There are five radio spots which together run 2 ¾ minutes.


    The theatrical trailer runs 2 minutes.



    In Conclusion

    3.5/5 (not an average)


    Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a simpletonish adventure comedy with two appealing nitwits doing all in their power to entertain. The comedy could have been much more stringently developed, but the two leading characters are so appealing that it’s easy to overlook the lapses. The Blu-ray does offer an excellent video and audio presentation.




    Matt Hough

    Charlotte, NC

     
  2. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Cinematographer
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    Hal Landon, Jr. is best known to Orange County, CA theatre audiences as Ebeneezer Scrooge in South Coast Repertory's annual production of A Christmas Carol.
     
  3. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Here's an infographic that the folks at MGM wanted fans of the film to see:
     
  4. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the review, Matt!
    It's true that the movie squanders some of its comic potential, but I've always enjoyed it. The lapses in logic are so blatant, that I always figured they were intentional and accepted them as part of the fun.
    And maybe this is looking a little too deeply, but to me the film does have some fun with the "self-consistency" theory of time-travel, in which time travelers can't change the past, because they were always part of it (as opposed to the "grandfather" theory). The sequel takes this idea to an even more absurd level (and is a better movie overall).
     
  5. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    Nice review
     
  6. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    Excellent.
     
  7. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    The original matrix surround track is better. Too bad they didn't include it here. (Same with Bogus Journey- there's one scene that originally had panned dialogue, but the 5.1 remix on the DVD keeps it in the center!)
     
  8. Everett Stallings

    Everett Stallings Supporting Actor

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    I remember the film reviewer for the Balto. Sun newspaper seeing this at a regular showing, and I asked him how he liked it .He did not ,I told him all the kids and parents liked it. I remember he's review of Disney's Condorman. He said that Michael Crawford had seen his time. :rolleyes:
     
  9. Adam Gregorich

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    We are running an EXCELLENT contest to win a copy of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. The contest runs through midnight PST on December 5th. To enter send an email to contest 'at' hometheaterforum.com with the the year the boys traveled to meet Genghis Khan in the subject line and your member name, name and shipping address (US or Canada only) in the email. Contest open to HTF members in good standing 18 years of age or older. Good Luck!

    Hint: The answer can be found on the image Matt posted above.
     
  10. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

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    I entered the contest.
    I was hoping part of the contest was to have "your BIll & Ted" story as part of the contest.
    Mine was that I got my first job at a 99 cent movie theater were Bill & Ted was my first movie I could see free as part of my job's perks.
    From the time I started work till the movie left the theater, I saw Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure 75 times.
    I also did that with Weekend at Bernie's.
     
  11. Radioman970

    Radioman970 Lead Actor

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    I'd love to win this but I just won something during the Halloween Movie Freakout (or whatever it's called, lol) .
     
  12. Todd H

    Todd H Go Dawgs!

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    Entered!
    One of me and my brother's favorite films. I still remember waiting in line opening day for Bogus Journey. :)
     
  13. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Excellent!

    I haven't watched this in a long time. But it was a favorite from high school. I had a Bill and Ted text book wrapper, and a full-size cardboard standup for a few years in college. But things like that have to get left behind.

    I wonder if I really want to watch it again, now, or if that will be a disappointment, and take away some of the fond memories.

    Bogus Journey was an odd one. It has some great moments, but didn't have the same spark as the original.

    Finally: i realized just a couple weeks ago that Bill and Ted's time machine is likely inspired by Dr. Who. Is that so? (Having never heard of Dr. Who until last year, this is a very belated revelation for me.)
     
  14. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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    I always assumed it was an intentional nod. I guess I assume a lot about these movies.
    When I was younger, I liked the first one better, but now I think Bogus Journey is funnier. The whole Seventh Seal game-playing sequence is pretty hilarious.
     
  15. Kevin Linke

    Kevin Linke Agent

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    Awesome review.
     
  16. Adam Gregorich

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  17. Adam Gregorich

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  18. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Congrats to the winners!
     
  19. Todd H

    Todd H Go Dawgs!

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    Woo hoo! I won!
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  20. SWFF

    SWFF Screenwriter

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    You know I had no idea I won this contest until the movie showed up a few hours ago.
     

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