Friday, 25 April 2014

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)

I do believe I saw this film at the cinema having no clue what it was about, I merely loved the visuals the trailer threw at you. Much like the original film I again watched this over and over during my youth and loved the adventure. You can clearly see from the first scene this film has totally gone down the colourful comicbook visual route but at the same time has opted for a slightly darker approach. The first film was fun for all ages but this time the bogus journey is aimed more for teens methinks.

This film is truly manic and a full on rollercoaster of thrills and spills. I do love the design and style of many aspects we see, the futuristic neon outfits at the start are a nice look. And despite the cliched idea I did like how the bad guys are all in black when everyone else is in heavenly white, the black costumes against the neon and white looks quite striking actually.

Its gotta be the imagination that earns the kudos mainly, even though much of the film is messy and too convoluted for its own good the variety of creations is a joy to watch. I really enjoyed the hijinx the pair get up to once they are killed by the evil robots, the evil robots themselves are seemingly a cheap get out of jail free card for less work by using Reeves and Winter in duo roles, but the small special effects we see when they remove their skin is fudging awesome. I really dug those transparent robotic exoskeletons we briefly see, they were really well done and always reminded me of those old transparent Competition Pro joysticks.

I think the epitome of this film and franchise is the sequence where the dead duo possess Ted's policeman dad and his Sgt. The whole effect is a seriously cheesy and now dated CGI visual trick that back in the day looked really sweet. From there on we get a fantastic little performance from Hal Landon and Roy Brocksmith as they take on the stoned surfer personalities of Bill and Ted.

From this point on the film becomes a surreal voyage into the afterlife with some neat visual tricks and nicely crafted ideas. Of course we all know the highlight of all this is William Sadler as Death, or the Grim Reaper. Best bit in the entire film has to be when Bill and Ted challenge him for the sake of their lives and they all end up playing board games like Twister and Cluedo. I think we all can agree seeing Death get upset and trying to cheat is fan-fudging-tastic!. It doesn't really get much better than this in all honesty, Death seems to go a bit camp as we progress and takes a back seat to the mayhem.

I must say I still don't quite get what the point of the devil scene was. The duo land on this boulder suspended in mid air by a chain, there are also many others in similar situations around them. The Devil seems to be in control of the winch that drags these boulders in towards this giant fire breathing dragon head with jaws that crush the boulders. But what's the point of all this? why is the Devil just standing there doing this? are these unfortunate souls suppose to be burnt up when dragged into this gaping fire breathing maw? and why did the Devil let the duo escape this fate by climbing off the boulder at the last minute?. The other thing that made me think was the way the duo escape their own personal hell's. Does this mean that Death is more powerful than the Devil? because he just bails them out easy peasy. Must say I did like the rubber suit and makeup used for the Devil, pretty intimidating for a young persons film.

As we near the big finale which is again another stage show setup, things get even more wacky as ideas bustle for screen time. Bill and ted make good robots of themselves helped by 'Station' who is a pair of identical genius aliens they brought back with them from the afterlife in heaven, Death also tags along. Again the hands on suit effects for these robots are really nicely done, deliberately tacky looking but well performed by whoever underneath with those robotic movements we've all seen. Station the alien fares less favourably as he looks kinda evil to me, he's pretty ugly and when he speaks his mouth doesn't really sync up at all, its a bit basic really. And why we needed that morphing of the two I don't know, very odd inclusion.

End of the day I prefer the original film over this bright hyper dream-like comicbook offering. Back in the day I would have said the opposite as I preferred this sequel back then. I guess it was all the big bold effects that won me over back then, the wow factor and being very young. Now I'm older and much much wiser (ahem) I can see that the first film has much more charm, a way better beat tapping soundtrack, its funnier with better performances and its just more enjoyable overall. This film is visually more impressive and has more action as such, but its just not as funny or as clever with its casting. Winter clearly gets better here whilst Reeves clearly gets worse...all he can do is bob his head around like a lunatic and pout from behind his curtain style locks. That selection of amusing cast members for the original really boosts that film even though its a little bit more childish.

'Bogus Journey' is bigger and bolder for sure and to that extent it gives the viewer what they paid for. In my mind they kinda sacrifice funny performances and charm for in your face effects. The effects and imagination are excellent for the time don't get me wrong, but if it wasn't for Sadler as Death this film would be sorely lacking in the character department. Its definitely a film of its time and I don't know what kids today would think of it (probably think its a Turtles rip off), but in my opinion bigger with more money doesn't always mean better.


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