Plot: What’s it about?
I was a Junior in High School when I waited in line to see Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and after watching it on Blu-ray, I realize that time has certainly gone by. It’s kind of odd to me how some scenes stood out and others I’d forgotten were in the movie, but I also found myself quoting several lines like “strange things are afoot at the Circle K.” I guess a movie has to be good to leave an impression 23 years later. Looking back I guess it can be said that this was the movie that really put Keanu Reeves on the map. Yes, we can all agree that The Matrix is the movie that made him a superstar, but this led to his future roles in films like Point Break, My Own Private Idaho and Speed. As for Alex Winter, well, let’s just say that he didn’t exactly have the meteoric rise that Reeves had. Still the term “guilty pleasure” is in full effect here, so let’s join our favorite time-traveling slackers and see what the movie is all about.
Bill S. Preston (Alex Winter) and Ted Theodore Logan (Keanu Reeves) are slacker high schoolers. Bill has a Oedipus complex for his new step mother (three years his senior) and Ted faces the threat of going to military school in Alaska if they don’t pass history. Their teacher impresses upon them the importance of their final history project which they need to ace, else they fail. However it would seem that they’ve a guardian angel in the form of Rufus (George Carlin). Rufus has come from the future to ensure that Bill and Ted pass their History class and he gives them some tips (and a time-traveling phone booth) to help make it happen. After a rocky start, the duo mistakenly kidnap Napoleon (Terry Camilleri) and then decide it’s best to bring the actual figures back with them for their report. One by one, they mange to procure the likes of Billy the Kid (Dan Shor), Joan of Arc (Jane Weidlin) and even Abraham Lincoln (Robert Barron). Now that Bill and Ted have all the right pieces in place, will it be enough for them to pass History or are they destined to part ways.
Looking back as an adult and someone whose seen thousands of films, I’ll be the first to admit that the premise for this movie falls flat. I mean, why would someone from the future need to go back to the past to ensure something that has already happened, does? Right. Still, you don’t really use a lot of logic when you watch a movie like this and the less you think, the more fun you’ll have. Admittedly, there is something about this movie that’s always been endearing to me and even two decades later I still got a kick out of watching it again. And the movie was fairly successful in its day inspiring a sequel a couple of years later (Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey) and even a short-lived cartoon, an episode of which is contained on this Blu-ray. Yes, the movie might be a bit dated now and the special effects aren’t really that “special” anymore, but if you sit back and enjoy the ride Bill and Ted will make sure that your adventure is most excellent indeed.
Video: How does it look?
It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen this movie in any form, so when it hit Blu-ray, I was pretty excited to see how it looked. The 2.35:1 AVC HD image is, by and large, very clean. There were two sequences that really had me a bit miffed, both of which had noticeable dirt on the print. I thought a fly had landed on my screen, that’s how bad it was! But it was short-lived. The image seems much cleaner than previous versions, with colors looking a bit stronger. Detail has been improved, though there are a few scenes that appear a bit soft. Contrast seems strong, but the black levels seemed a bit off in places. It had a fairly inconsistent look to it, though it was an improvement.
Audio: How does it sound?
The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is improved, but it’s by no means something to crank up. The music in the film is a bit dated, though there are some songs that sounded pretty good, namely the opening credits “Breakaway.” Dialogue is pretty crisp and clear, we get to hear all of the “dude”, “bogus” and of course “excellent’s” in DTS Master Audio sound. Surrounds aren’t too engaged, though I found a few times when they added some depth to the film, the montage in the mall is a good example. All in all, it’s a step up from the DVD, but not something that’s too terribly impressive.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The previous DVD of the film contained the theatrical trailer only but I’m pleased to say that this Blu-ray does contain a few extras that I’ve never seen before. First up is “The Original Bill and Ted: In Conversation with Chris and Ed” in this the two writers discuss their influences for the film and the film itself. We get an “Air Guitar Tutorial” as we meet the winner and runner-up of the international air guitar competition. I had no idea there was such a thing. “One Sweet and Sour Chinese Adventure To Go” is an episode of the animated version of this movie, aptly-titled “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures” and we round it out with the original theatrical trailer.