Bill And Ted's Bogus Journey

Bill And Ted's Bogus Journey

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

In The Terminator, the tyrant of the future, on the verge of destruction, sent back a machine to try and kill the saviour of humanity before he was born. In Bill And Ted's Bogus Journey, such a tyrant sends back two robots to try and kill our heroes before they win the battle of the bands competition on which the future of civilisation depends. And they succeed.

Developing Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock posed the question: is it possible to make a film work if you kill off its star within the first half hour? This film proves conclusively that it is, though of course it helps if you then follow them into the afterlife. Though at first they thought it was cool to hang out with the robot clones who came to visit them. Bill and Ted, whom you may have met during their previous Excellent Adventure, are totally not happy about being pushed off a cliff, even if it is the one out of Star Trek. When they discover that they can challenge the Grim Reaper, they're willing to take the chance. Of course, Death is used to winning, but this is no Seventh Seal style chess game, and he wasn't quite prepared for battleships or Twister...

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Once you've mastered time, taking on death seems an appropriate next step, and this stage of Bill and Ted's adventures seems entirely natural for them. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are charming as ever in the lead roles, with our heroes desperate to regain their lives so they can defeat their evil robot foes, save their girlfriends (the princesses from the first film, explained away as being from "Medieval England, Iowa", which is believable with those accents) and take their band, Wyld Stallyns, to victory (of course, they still can't actually play). But it's William Sadler as Death, browbeaten into helping them, who steals the show, managing to bring all the gravitas of Bengt Ekerot's original to the perfect comic foil. He's suitably grim but very likeable.

With all these things going for it, and with a budget much bigger than its predecessor's, this ought to have been a most excellent film, but, whilst it's extremely enjoyable, it doesn't quite pull that off. There are too many slow bits, notably with the character(s) of Station, a device that seems to have been added mostly as padding. The threat posed by the evil robots never quite seems as scary as the threat posed by the prospect of failing an exam and being sent to military school, and the big musical number at the end isn't as strong as it needs to be, though the final montage is a work of genius. Still, this is a better sequel than anyone really had a right to expect, and it's well worth an hour and a half of your time.

Reviewed on: 03 Jul 2009
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Bill And Ted's Bogus Journey packshot
A totally evil future dude sends uncool robots back in time to kill the most righteous Bill S Preston esquire and Ted 'Theodore' Logan.
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Director: Peter Hewitt

Writer: Chris Matheson, Ed Solomon

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, William Sadler, Joss Ackland, Pam Grier, George Carlin, Amy Stock-Poynton, Jim Martin, Hal Landon Jr., Annette Azcuy, Sarah Trigger

Year: 1991

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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If you like this, try:

Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure