14
Dec 04

FT TOP 100 FILMS 2: BILL AND TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY

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FT TOP 100 FILMS
2: BILL AND TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY

Originally known as Bill And Ted Go To Hell, a nicely literal title. Though hell is one of the shortest visits of the grand tour of more metaphysical realms than the previous excellent adventure.

This film is number two in the list; I suppose I should be demonstrating how Bogus Journey is superior to Excellent Adventure (which I think it is). And indeed The Seven Samurai. But considering Crocodile Dundee came in at number six, this list has never been about quality. Which is a pity as I think the Bill & Ted films are mini masterpieces. The lions share of the credit in Bogus Journey goes to Peter Hewitt, British director who seems awfully good at this kind of thing (this kind of thing including The Borrowers and Thunderpants: kid friendly filmography). He has a knack with inventive designs, very good at pacing his material for sci-fi jokes and action. The designs for heaven and hell are his: by no means hugely original but no-one near as hackneyed as other cinematic visions. Sending the ultimate blank canvases of Bill & Ted through these vistas is a great trip for the viewer: Reeves and Winter appear to have learnt nothing from their previous journey, which is the point.

Viewed as big budget science fiction, the plot of Bogus Journey pretty much trashes all that is wrong with many popular takes on sci-fi. Clones, robot duplicates, time travel are all used up and spat out with gay abandon. In particular the time-travel ending which takes the logical conclusion to illogical states of farce. (Joss Ackland will spend much of the next ten years playing baddies like this, but never in such a good film).

In the end though, for all the design, and script jokes, this is a film that makes something of Bergman’s Death. I often wondered if Ingmar had seen it, or at least the battleships/twister sequence. Wrapped up in the one character we have arthouse parody, Death Takes A Holiday, Arnie lampoons and a remarkably sympathetic character: Death. In the end the beauty of both Bill & Ted films is they take whatever comes their way culturally and sees what works. Bogus Journey is better due to net for its influences being so much bigger.

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