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Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (25th Anniversary Special Edition Steelbook) [UK] Blu-ray Review

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The Film

[Rating:3/5]

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For years Keanu Reeves was saddled with the air-headed rock star wannabe character Ted he played in this little comedy that helped close out the 1980s. A quick-paced and amusing piece of pop culture silliness that was simultaneously a rallying cry for youths and a condemnation of the American educational system, the film followed its two titular characters on wild ride through history.

Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Reeves) desperately in need of a passing grade lest they flunk high school before graduation are granted one last chance at redemption by their demanding teacher (Bernie Casey). They have to put on an oral presentation about a historical figure and how he would be affected by the present day. Unlikely aid comes in the form of Rufus (George Carlin), a traveler from the future where the entire society is built around the music of Bill and Ted. Rufus’ mission is help them finish their report on time and garner a passing grade, so he sets them off on a journey in a time capsule phone booth à la Doctor Who’s TARDIS. The two gather up the historical figures Socrates, Billy the Kid, Joan of Arc, Sigmund Freud, Genghis Kahn, Napoleon , Beethoven, and even manage to hit on a couple of cute medieval princesses along the way before heading back to California in the present. A minor hiccup sets the lot of time travelers loose on San Dimas, which makes for some funny gags.

Surprisingly enough, George Carlin’s appearances throughout the film offer the least comedic appeal. It’s the silly banter between Bill and Ted that offers the most laughs. The film would spawn an unfortunate sequel in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Adventure and even a short-lived animated TV series. Mostly, however, the Ted character (or is that “caricature”) would hang around Keanu Reeves’ neck like a noose until he was finally able to break free with his role as Neo in The Matrix a decade later.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

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Given that MGM’s own 2012 Blu-ray release of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was just middling at best, with a bit of a rough looking grain structure, issues with source damage, and reddish flesh tones, just about anything would be an improvement. Thankfully, StudioCanal get it right, with a little bit more attention to this film. Bringing it to Blu-ray in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement, it does tend to have that typically processed look of StudioCanal releases, but in this case it’s not quite as smooth and texture-less as usual. Given how the film previously appeared in the U.S. Release on Blu-ray, this is a big improvement. Here, the shadows are more consistent, flesh tones look much more natural, and grain is finer.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3/5]

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The audio continues to disappoint on this latest release of Bill & Ted from StudioCanal. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) soundtrack still sounds dreadfully harsh and tizzy in the high end and rather reprocessed to my ears. StudioCanal also provide an English LPCM 2.0 Stereo (48kHz/16-bit) soundtrack that is a bit more tolerable given it doesn’t sound as artificial.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

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There is some crossover here between this latest StudioCanal SteelBook Bluray release in the UK and the MGM release from 2012. The supplements marked with an asterisk all appear on the US release from MGM as well. Nothing here is new, however, and is all in standard definition and ported over.

The supplements:

  • The Original Bill & Ted: In Conversation with Chris & Ed (1.33:1; SD; 00:20:13)*
  • Score! An Interview with Guitarist Steve Vai (1.33:1; SD; 00:12:44)
  • Air Guitar Tutorial with Bjorn Turoque & The Rockness Monster (1.78:1; SD; 00:13:13)*
  • The Hysterical Personages of Bill & Ted (1.33:1; SD; 00:15:26)
  • One Sweet and Sour Chinese Adventure To-Go (1.33:1; SD; 00:23:05)* – an episode from the original Bill & Ted animated series
  • The Linguistic Stylings of Bill & Ted (1.33:1; SD; 00:03:42)
  • Radio Spots (1.33:1; SD; 00:02:56)*
  • Stills Gallery (1.33:1; SD; 00:06:38)
  • From Scribble to Script (1.33:1; SD; 00:11:49)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

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Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure remains 90-minutes worth of mindless popcorn entertainment all done in good fun. StudioCanal have put together a reasonably good effort to bring this comedy to Blu-ray given the genre and the film’s age.

Additional Screen Captures

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[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00GDEZLGA[/amazon-product]

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