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Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure – Blu-ray Review

November 14, 2012 – 10:48 PM - Posted by: Justin Sluss

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Blu-ray Disc Review

4.5 out of 5 starsThe Movie Itself has an average rating of 6.8 on IMDb
4 out of 5 starsVideo Quality 1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 25gb disc
4 out of 5 starsAudio Quality
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
2 out of 5 starsBonus Materials include DVD ports in standard definition
Rated:PG
Year: – 1989
Length: – 90 minutes
Studio:MGM (FOX)
Region:Region 1 (A)
This uses 18.5GB for the movie out of 22.5GB total.


Overall VerdictFans Will Be Pleased

Buy it for $13.86 @ Amazon.com
Buy it on Blu-ray for $13.86 @ Amazon.com


— Review written by: Justin Sluss

Trailer:


The Movie Itself was directed by Stephen Herek, now best known for directing films like “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” (1991), “The Mighty Ducks” (1992), “Mr. Holland’s Opus” (1995), the live-action adaptation of Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” (1996), “Holy Man” (1998), “Rock Star” (2001) and “Life or Something Like It” (2002). The screenplay for the film was written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon. Matheson and Soloman would work together again on writing the screenplay to this film’s sequel “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” in 1991 as well as the screenplays to “Mom and Dad Save the World” in 1992 and “Imagine That” in 2009. Solomon, on his own, is now best known for writing the screenplay to “Men in Black” from 1997 and co-writing the screenplay to the film adaptation of “Charlie’s Angels” from 2000 as well as writing & directing the film “Levity” from 2003.

The story here is set in San Dimas, California during the year 1988 and focuses on two slackers by the names of “Ted Theodore Logan” (played by Keanu Reeves) and “Bill S. Preston, Esquire” (played by Alex Winter). Bill & Ted have spent all their time focusing on their rock band “Wyld Stallyns“, which consists only of them both playing guitars. All this focus on their band has left them about to fail their history class. Their teacher “Mr. Ryan” (played by Bernie Casey) gives them an ultimatum that if they don’t write on amazing history report he’ll be forced to flunk (fail) the two of them. This news travels back to Ted’s father, a police officer by the name of “Captain Logan” (played by Hal Landon Jr.), who threatens to send him to military school in Alaska if he fails his class. This may not sound like that big of a problem but the future is riding on this as we’re told by an opening narration delivered by “Rufus” (played by the late George Carlin). Rufus is from the year 2688 in a society where Bill & Ted are referred to as “The Two Great Ones” from the influence they made on mankind with their band and wisdom. The leaders send Rufus back to 1988 in a phone booth that is actually a time machine. He eventually meets up with our two protagonists in the parking lot of a convenience store where they’re trying to work on their history report. They see this huge cloud form above them, a bright flash and then this phone booth appear and this dude in cool clothing come walking out. They ask him a question and he replies by telling them essentially that he’s been sent back in time to help them with their history report. Both Bill & Ted are a bit skeptical to trust Rufus but once another phone booth time machine appears and their selves from the future come out and talk things over with them they decide to trust him.

Bill, Ted and Rufus all bunch up in the phone booth and after a series of numbers are dialed they’re traveling back in time. Their first stop is the year 1805 where they witness a war between the French, led by Napoleon Bonaparte (played by Terry Camilleri), against Austria. They manage to end up bringing Napoleon back with them as they depart. Rufus brings them back to 1988 and tells them how to operate the phone booth (time machine) and leaves them on their own to go back in time and snag up some historical figures to help with their history report. After Rufus leaves they notice Napoleon fall out of a tree and immediately recognize him from their history book. He’s unconscious at first but manages to wake up long enough for Bill & Ted to (attempt to) tell him that they’re going to leave him with Ted’s younger brother “Deacon” (played by Frazier Bain) while they go back in time. Obviously Napoleon has little clue what they’ve just said to him and when or where he is. Napoleon will get to spend some time enjoying the finer things in modern life such as ice cream, bowling and a water park while Bill & Ted are gone.

So, off Bill & Ted go back in time to find more historical figures to bring back with them to 1988. Their next stop is 1879 in the old west where they befriend cowboy Billy the Kid (played by Dan Shor) and bring him back with them to the year 410 B.C. where they meet Greek Athenian philosopher Socrates (played by Tony Steedman). They’ll bring both Billy the Kid and Socrates with them to 15th century England where they’ll meet two beautiful princesses that they fall madly for. Sadly, they have to leave without those two princesses and next wind up all the way in the futuristic society of 2688, where they meet briefly with the leaders. After that visit to the future they continue traveling back in time grabbing up historical figures like Austrian neurologist Dr. Sigmund Freud (played by Rod Loomis), composer Ludwig van Beethoven (played by Clifford David), Mongol leader Genghis Khan (played by Al Leong), legendary female warrior Joan of Arc (played by Jane Wiedlin) and American president Abraham Lincoln (played by Robert V. Barron).

Part of the requirement of their history report was to discuss what historical figures of the past would think of their town in the year 1988. So, they decide to take all of these historical figures with them to the local mall of all places — with the exception of Napoleon, who they’re trying to find after Ted’s little brother ditched him. They’ll eventually find Napoleon and a few complications will arise that will attempt to prevent them from making it to their school in time to deliver their history report in an extravagant type of “show and tell” meets rock concert style presentation. They’ll get some help along the way from Bill’s attractive young step mother “Missy” (played by Amy Stock-Poynton) as a ride to school. That about sums it all up. I won’t spoil the ending for you. Let’s just say that it’s far from bogus.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray screenshot

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure“, a film now 23 years in age, still proves to be just as entertaining as it did back in 1989. Over the past two decades it’s developed one huge cult following. It in 1991 spawned a sequel “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” — which hopefully is coming to Blu-ray Disc soon — as well as an animated TV series “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures” that ran for 2 seasons from 1990 through 1991 with the original actors providing voices. That animated series would return with a new voice cast for 1 season in 1992. It’s been rumored since 2010 that a third film has been in the works and might finally become a reality soon — more info HERE.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray screenshot

Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-25 (25 gigabyte single layer Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. According to IMDb‘s technical specifications this was shot on 35MM film using Panavision cameras. The film, now 23 years in age, gets a pretty nice digital transfer here and seems to have a lot of newfound detail now in Hi-Def that was never seen on the VHS or DVD releases. Film grain has definitely been left intact and a majority of the film print has been cleaned up. However, there are some scenes that still do hold some visible dirt in the form of black specks and other problems with the film print — as seen HERE in a screenshot. In that screenshot look near the top middle on the head of Sigmund Freud where you’ll find those black specks I was referring to. Freud himself would even want to analyze that a bit more and it’s not even something dealing with the psyche. That problem really only lasts for under a minute there and comes a little over halfway through the film. There are only a few other occasions that I spotted any other visible flaws with the film print, such as scratches and white specks, but were enough to notice and I felt to be worth mentioning.

The black level here is solid, the fleshtones are accurate and the color palette is for sure vibrant throughout the film. It looks really good to be a 1989 film and doesn’t feel quite as soft as most films from the late ’80s do. I found the overall Hi-Def presentation here to be solid and despite a few flaws along the way. That said, this earns itself a solid “4 Star Rating” for overall video quality. Fans will be pleased with how this looks. It could look a bit better if they cleaned it up a tad more but I don’t think we’ll see that happen anytime too soon. Perhaps it will get a new digital transfer in a couple years for a possible 25th anniversary edition or something and then maybe they’ll fix those few flaws mentioned. Regardless, it will certainly do for now. It looks good, in fact better than (in all honesty) I expected it to look.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray screenshot

Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. According to IMDb this came from an original Dolby mix. The lossless 5.1 here starts out with the song (“I Can’t Break Away” by Big Pig) during the opening credits and makes nice use of the rear channels and comes with a decent amount of LFE (bass). The music and sound effects are primarily driven from the from left and right speakers. Sound effects get some nice use of the rear channels and seem to come with more LFE than the music. George Carlin‘s opening bit (foreword) as “Rufus” gives us our first example of how dialogue is delivered distinctly through the center channel speaker. Dialogue is never overpowered here by either the music or sound effects, so don’t worry about needing to make any volume adjustments. The original music here composed by David Newman sounds “not bad” as the guys would say. 10 minutes in you’ll start to hear how the sound effects and song “Father Time” from the soundtrack make nice use of the lossless 5.1 mix. 13 minutes in when “Rufus” comes to visit for the first time things sound good and they’re about to sound way cooler. 17 minutes in when they first time travel in the phone booth you’ll notice that sound effects come through the rear channels in a pretty psychedelic manner. There’s a decent amount of LFE here from the sound effects during the time traveling. That phone booth can pack quite a little bit of a “punch” when it warps. You’ll notice almost one-third through the film that Billy the Kid’s gunshots sound pretty realistic and the sound effects during the old west bar fight are pretty crazy. Things continue to sound good here throughout the film and this delivers a solid 5.1 lossless presentation worthy of a “4 Star Rating” for overall audio quality.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray screenshot

Bonus Materials on this release are presented in standard definition video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @192kbps sound — unless otherwise noted below.

  • The Original Bill & Ted: In Conversation with Chris & Ed” (20:13 – SD) features the screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon discussing their friendship, how they came up with the characters doing a 5 minute improv skit, the original outline, the original script and the differences between the original screenplay and the final screenplay. They admit that the two characters were NOT intended to be stoners or surfers. We learn that the film almost got made at Warner Brothers and that the original script was wrote in just 4 days. This conversation proves to be very interesting. They discuss the possibility of making a third film. This features Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @224kbps sound.
  • Air Guitar Tutorial with Bjorn Turoque & The Rockness Monster” (13:14 – SD) has two real-life air guitar competitors discussing how one goes about becoming an air guitarist. These two dudes totally take this stuff serious. This features Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @224kbps sound.
  • One Sweet and Sour Chinese Adventure to Go” (23:08 – SD) is an episode of the original animated TV series “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures” from 1990. It’s worth noting that Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves and George Carlin do the voices of their characters here.
  • Radio Spots (2:51 – SD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1:55 – SD)

Overall the bonus materials, the 2005 DVD’s supplemental materials ported over, are enjoyable and somewhat lengthy — roughly an hour total. The conversation between the two screenwriters definitely proves to be the real highlight here. It’s very nice to see that they included an episode of the original animated TV series, which is sure to bring back memories for some folks like myself. The air guitar tutorial thing is worth a watch, if for anything as a laugh to most folks. Finally you get the radio spots and the original theatrical trailer.


Blu-ray Disc packaging:


Screenshots:

NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.

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