• Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Steelbook Edition)

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: May 15, 2018.
    Director: Stephen Herek
    Cast: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Karlin
    Year: 1989
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    The Movie:

    Long before Keanu Reeves was zipping past bullets in The Matrix and long before Alex Winter was doing whatever it is that Alex Winter does now (mostly voice acting and stage work), the pair starred in Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

    The story follows two high school students named Ted Theodore Logan (Reeves) and his best friend Bill S. Preston, Esquire (Winter), a pair of teenagers who lives in San Dimas where they one day hope to get their rock band, Wyld Stallyns, off the ground. This involves a lot of air guitar and posturing but not much else. Maybe not so surprisingly, the two aren’t exactly A students – in fact, when we meet them they’re on the verge of flunking out of history class. It all hinges on an upcoming report they have to hand in and should they fail, Ted’s father (Hal Landon Jr.) has threatened to send him off to military school.

    Not exactly stoked at the prospect of being separated for long periods of time, they decide to buckle up and hit the books… sort of. Little do they know, however, that they’ve been chosen to save the future. When a man named Rufus (George Carlin) shows up from the future to help them with them history report, they decide to travel through time in a phone booth and abduct the actual historical figures that they need to write about and wind up on an adventure that introduces them to Napoleon, Genghis Khan, Sigmund Freud, Abraham Lincoln, Beethoven and many more.

    While the bulk of the movie’s humor stems from Reeves and Winter playing complete dopes and Carlin’s dry sense of sarcasm, there’s also the ‘fish out of water’ element that comes from the time travel aspects of the movie. As our ‘heroes’ head into the past, they’re surprised by what they see but not nearly so much as those they bring back with them to the present day of the late 80s. Yeah, maybe its lowest common denominator comedy to put Napoleon in a mall but for the most part it works. There’s also the culture clash aspect of mixing up the ‘dude’ speak of Bill and Ted with the more formal way of communicating through speech that the likes of Abraham Lincoln and Sigmund Freud bring to the movie.

    While this film was very much a product of its time (it was ridiculously successful and spawned not only a sequel but an animated series and a comic book series that featured early work from Evan Dorkin of Milk And Cheese fame!), it remains harmless fun even by today’s standards. Reeves and Winter are good in their respective roles, bringing surprisingly believable dopiness to the parts to the point where it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the roles. Director Stephen Herek would go on to more serious fare with Mr. Holland’s Opus and Rock Star (ok, maybe not that serious) but will always hold a special place in horror movie fans’ hearts for his debut feature, Critters.

    It might be fairly brainless, but it’s still a lot of fun.


    Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure arrives on a 50GB Blu-ray disc with the feature taking up just over 25GBs of space. The 2.35.1 widescreen image is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and doesn’t suffer from any obvious compression artifacts. The image shows some minor print damage in the form of some white specks here and there but no serious print damage worth complaining about. Detail is about what you’d expect for a movie of this vintage, a little soft in spots but generally solid. Color reproduction looks good – better than the first Blu-ray release that came out from MGM years ago (really the most noticeable difference between the two discs) - as does texture and while black levels aren’t reference quality, they’re pretty good. This is definitely a nice upgrade from the DVD release from years back.

    The main mix on the disc is an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, though an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is also included. Subtitles are provided in English only. This is not the most immersive 5.1 mix you’ll ever hear but the rears open up the soundstage a bit when effects and music come into play. Dialogue stays clean and clear for the most part, the track has reasonable depth to it even if it never approaches reference quality. A solid mix, and again, a nice upgrade over the DVD release.

    Alex Winter and producer Scott Kroopf provide an amusing commentary track. It’s an amusing track with the two men looking back on making the picture together, discussing the different co-stars that appear in the film, the comedic tone of the picture, the effects, and more. They really seem to have enjoyed working on the film and that shines through here, making it a breeze to listen to. A second commentary track brings together writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon. This track is also a lot of fun as we learn about their inspiration for the script, ideas that they had that didn’t make it into the film, their thoughts on the performances and direction and plenty more.

    Also included on the disc is Time Flies When You’re Having Fun, an hour long documentary that gathers together pretty much everyone possible for a look back at the making of the film. Reeves and Winters are here as are quite a few of their co-stars, writers, crew members and more. It’s thorough, entertaining and often times quite funny – definitely a nice addition to the disc.

    Outside of that we get a theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. It’s also worth noting that this edition comes packaged in a pretty slick steelbook that is limited to 10,000 pieces.

    When Shout! Factory originally released this with its sequel a couple of years ago there were extras relating to that sequel on its disc as well as a third disc full of other supplements, including everything from the older MGM disc. Most of that material is not included here – this is basically just the first disc from the Shout! Factory set presented on its own.

    The Final Word:

    In as many ways as time has not been so kind to Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure, there are just as many ways in which the movie still holds up as an entertaining comedic product of its time. Shout! Factory’s steelbook Blu-ray reissue looks and sounds quite good and has a decent selection of extras to accompany it, in addition to some genuinely cool packaging.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Still love this one.