With Keanu Reeves and Alex Winters reprising their roles, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey is a pretty righteous continuation in the future history of the Wyld Stallyns where our lovable doofuses save themselves from eternal damnation. Shout! Factory travels back to the present in a collector's SteelBook Blu-ray package with a strong video presentation and a most excellent stereo audio mix. The near bare-bones HD edition is Recommended for diehard fans.
While not nearly the "most excellent" adventure as its predecessor, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey nonetheless packs a good deal of fun and laughs into the now-iconic vintage phone booth. Franchise creators Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon return with a new story that pits our pair of lovable dimwitted heroes (Keanu Reeves and Alex Winters reprising their roles) in a literal life-and-death game against none other than Death himself (a very memorable William Sadler). Taking unabashed inspiration from Ingmar Bergman's immortal classic The Seventh Seal, some of the movie's more amusing moments are the gullible dolts battling the scythe-wielding Grim Reaper at Battleship and Twister and later ironically dressing the Dark Angel as Little Bo-Peep when asking God's help. Personally, I also enjoyed the cameo appearances of Pam Grier, Faith No More's Jim Martin, Primus, evil Easter Bunny and Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers and Bruno "Pop N Taco" Falcon of Breakin' fame.
However, the whole Chuck De Nomolos (a rather bland and squandered Joss Ackland) subplot is as much an ineffectual component to the story as it is contrived. Granted, the 27th-Century sit-up champion turned wannabe fascist dictator introduces the plot's true antagonists: evil robot versions of our titular heroes. But outside of that, the character serves little purpose, setting events into motion at the beginning and reappearing only to bookend the story, wrapping up everything a bit too conveniently. In fact, the eye-rolling conclusion falls somewhat flat and feels undeservedly schmaltzy. But perhaps the biggest travesty in an otherwise decently entertaining follow-up is seeing George Carlin dressed in that hellacious and totally horrendous outfit with the oversized foam shoulder pads and the huge platform boots. The one image seared into memory is the nightmarish fashion of humanity's future.
For our take on Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, you can read our review of the Blu-ray SteelBook Edition HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Shout! Factory brings Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey to Blu-ray in a limited SteelBook Edition. The Region A locked, BD25 disc is housed inside a collectible SteelBook package in a combination of vibrant reds and fiery oranges with the image of the iconic phone booth at the center. At startup, the disc goes to a generic menu selection along the bottom with music playing in the background and a static photo.
Bill & Ted play a fatal game of wits with Death on Blu-ray, sporting an attractive and overall satisfying 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode. Unlike its predecessor though, the elements used are arguably not in the best condition, showing a good amount of softness and rather poor resolution in the visual effects. Nevertheless, the source has aged decently well or at least, enough to show strong definition and good details of background information, thanks in large part to the spot-on contrast and the crisp highlights allowing for great visibility within the hottest spots. For the most part, black levels are true and accurate, providing the 1.85:1 image with appreciable depth, but a few scenes falter and flatten slightly with murky, dark gray shadows. Primaries offer the biggest win, looking very rich and vibrant throughout, especially the reds and greens. Similarly, secondary hues are quite diverse and animated, particularly the mauve and lavender of couple sequences, and facial complexions appear healthy and revealing.
Awash in a consistent fine layer of grain, the HD presentation is ultimately a win and totally not bogus although it would significantly benefit from a brand new remaster of the OCN. (Video Rating: 74/100)
The sequel crash lands to home theaters with a slightly better pair of DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. The first is a 5.1 remix that frankly sounds terrible, as the sound effects come in at a higher decibel level than the vocals and noticeably overpower some of the dialogue. Also, the midrange doesn't really have much of a high-end, so the louder segments not only feel pushed beyond their limits but also come off ear-piercingly bright and even clipped in some spots while the low-end falls flat and hollow.
The preferred option is the DTS-HD 2.0 stereo mix, which is much closer to the original sound design, exhibiting massively better clarity and distinction in the upper ranges. Overall, imaging feels broader and more engaging with a great deal of warmth and acoustical fidelity, and the background activity and music spread across the entire soundstage more efficiently and convincingly. The vocals are precise and very well-prioritized, never drowned out by the heavy rock songs while the bass provides a welcomed weightiness and presence. Also, this second lossless mix lends itself well to the receiver's DSU processing, further widening and more effectively expanding the soundfield. (Audio Rating: 78/100)
Our lovable doofuses save themselves from eternal damnation in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, a direct follow-up to the 1989 sci-fi comedy sleeper hit starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winters. Although not quite the excellent sequel fans would have hoped for, this second installment is nonetheless a righteous continuation in the future history of the Wyld Stallyns. Shout! Factory travels back to the present on Blu-ray in a collector's SteelBook package with a strong video presentation but a most excellent stereo audio mix. Featuring a pair of new commentary tracks, this near bare-bones HD edition is recommended for diehard fans.