I’m going to start this off by saying…SHOUT! FACTORY – YOU ARE GODS.  You are amazing.  You put out amazing products and really do it for the love of preserving amazing works.

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure had come out by itself on Blu-Ray but I couldn’t update my DVDs.  How could I buy just Excellent Adventure and NOT buy Bogus Journey?  How do you release one and not release the other?  It was mind boggling.  So I refused to buy it.

I loved Bill and Ted from the start.  From the very first commercials on TV (and the theatrical trailer) I knew I had to see the film.  My friends and I went opening night (we missed the first few minutes which pissed me off) – and then I went again….and then again.  When you are that young it is pretty hard to convince your parents to take you to the movies just to see the same film over and over again.  I entered a contest with the local paper The Trenton Times and actually won a Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure t-shirt that I wore ALL THE TIME.  My buddy Mark and I would listen to the soundtrack over and over, especially the Extreme song Play With Me.  It was just a great flick.

When the sequel came out a couple years later my mother decided to go with me.  She enjoyed watching the first film with me when I watched it (over and over) at home.  I remember her face walking out of the theater and saying, “What the heck was that?”  The sequel was just so weird, so different, and so awesome.  Once again I played the soundtrack to death (especially the Kiss song) and, as I watched the movies back to back, I came to the conclusion that the much weirder sequel featuring a martian named Station and the Grim Reaper was the surperior film.

I never stopped loving Bill and Ted.  I bought the DVDs when they came out that came with a decent bonus disc that had a few making of’s that included interviews with the directors, writers, and Alex Winter plus one of the episodes of the inferior cartoon (which actually looks like genius when compared to the awful TV series).  The DVDs themselves were pretty lacking.  Both had the trailers and one had a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Shout! Factory comes to the rescue once again.  I look on the back cover and it says Blu-Ray Producer is Brian Ward.  Brian I don’t know what or how you produced this collection but I certainly hope you get a big, fat raise.  Or a Ferrari.  Or both.

The set is broken up into three discs: Excellent Adventure, Bogus Journey, and the bonus disc.  Both discs have audio commentary with Alex Winter and producer Scott Kroopf.  It also has audio commentary with writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon.  Plus the original trailers – which is still decent.

So what’s missing?  Obviously the commentary tracks are missing both directors of the films (Stephen Herek and  Peter Hewitt respectively) and, most glaringly, Keanu Reeves.  Look – there’s nothing against Scott Kroopf.  I’m sure he has tons to say about the producing process on both of these amazing films.  Would I have rather have had him with the directors or Ed and Chris?  Absolutely.  What I have rather have had Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter both talking about the films.  ABSO-FRIGGIN-LUTETLY.  I’m not sure why Keanu isn’t on the commentaries because he’s on the new documentaries (which I’ll get to in a moment) but maybe he was too busy filming John Wick 2 to sit around and comment on Joan of Arc pushing an aerobics instructor around.

Deleted scenes?  You won’t find any.  There are many scenes and sequences that were shot or partially shot for Bogus Journey alone that have never been seen.  The documentaries show just a taste of what I’m looking for but ANY deleted scenes would have been amazing to see for either film.  Still shots of sequences or storyboards would have been grand to show what they were planning to do.  Want to see what I’m talking about?  Go find the Bogus Journey Marvel Comic book by Evan Dorkin and you can see what was going on in the original script.  NOW I understand that many of these sequences were not just cut but either (A) not filmed or (B) partially filmed and abandoned.

But if you were able to reconstruct a scene using footage that was filmed AND storyboards for what wasn’t filmed?  HOT DAMN I WOULD HAVE BEEN A HAPPY MAN.

I’m not going to get into the films.  If you are actually reading this and haven’t seen either…go watch them.  They are both completely excellent, fun films.  Watching both films I am happy to say that the transfers are pristine.  Both pictures look completely outstanding and have never, ever look better.  They make the DVDs look like VHS tapes taped off HBO.

The meat and bones of this collection are the packaging and the two new documentaries.  I’ll start with the docs first.  They are broken up between the two films.  Keanu and Alex are both here to talk about the films. So is Kroopf.  So is Chris Matheson.  Why is co-writer Ed Solomon not here?  Why are both directors not here either?  I’m not sure.  It’s puzzling.  Maybe in past documentaries and behind-the-scenes (which seem to be rehashed from the older bonus disc from the DVD release) they felt they had said everything they want to say.  It is what it is.

The Excellent Adventure doc talks briefly about the original screenplay “Bill and Ted’s Time Van” where they go around collecting historical figures in their hooptie van.  As noted previously they changed this because of Back to the Future.  I apologize to the actors who acted in this but I’m not going to mention you by name just by role…but showing up and interviewed for this doc are Missy, Ted’s Dad, Beethoven, Sigmund Freud, Napoleon, and Billy the Kid.  Jane Weidlin is here too but I’ll mention her by name because she’s Jane and if you don’t know who Jane is you never listened to 80’s music and your life sucks.  I was really aggravated that they did not get Al Leong for the documentary.  I love Leong (I plan to do a whole retrospective on him in the future) and was shocked they didn’t bring him back to talk about Genghis Khan.  FINALLY he shows up – so I became very happy.  It was great to hear from these “historical figures” talk about the great times they had on set and the fond memories that Alex and Keanu have for them.  They talk about the score and the cheapness of the film (it didn’t have a huge budget).  They talk about how the finished product sat on the shelf, how it was never going to be released, and how – when it was almost released – it was just going to go to HBO.  No one expected a hit and it is great to see the actor’s amazement at how well it did.  I was quite sad that actress Diane Franklin wasn’t interviewed.  She played one of the princesses and was just a queen of 80’s movies.  Who doesn’t love Better Off Dead!?!??!?!

The Bogus Journey doc goes a lot into the special effects, how they were limited by a limited (but bigger) budget with a very ambitious screenplay.  William Sadler is here talking about his experiences playing the Grim Reaper including the clothing, the makeup, and his amazing accent.  They do touch on the third act and how it was constantly changing – they do tease some of the car chase scene that was supposed to happen (and some that actually was filmed) but do not touch on the ending where the evil robots continued to kill Bill and Ted.  Still it was excellent to have Alex and Keanu talk about the sequel, why they were there, and what they really liked about a film so different than the first.  I learned that Tony Cox played one of the Stations (and quit!) and that Howard the Duck’s Ed Gale played the other Station!

Obviously missing are George Carlin and Joss Ackland.  I really wish they were alive so they could have added their two cents.

Both documentaries are quite long so they alone are worth the price of buying this collection if you are Bill and Ted fanatics.  They are quite well made and these are really the docs I’ve been waiting for.

There is only a brief mention of a third film.  Obviously it has been gestating for years but at this point I doubt it is going to happen.  Who knows – I’ve been wrong before.  But I believe these two films may be it.  Sadler at one point says in the doc, “Rock and roll will save the world!”  It doesn’t.  Anyone listening to music today knows that rock and roll is near dead – replaced with absolute crap.  The world needs Bill and Ted to save it more than ever.

So two new amazing documentaries.  A bunch of great other supplemental material.  AND some pristine transfers of the actual films.

The packaging is top-notch.  There’s a new cover by Paul Shipper which does a great job combining characters from both films into one amazing look.

There are two stickers – each one the logo from each film.  I have no clue where I am going to stick them but they are totally going to get stuck somewhere.

This comes with a Wyld Stallyns guitar pick.  How sweet is that?  I mean HOW SWEET IS THAT!?!??!  The only way it would have been sweeter is if it had fake signatures on it from Bill or Ted.

Lastly you can flip the cover art to reveal the original posters for both films (or lift up the gate holding the discs and take out one of the discs to view).  When I lifted up the bonus disc and saw the poster for Bogus Journey I thought, ‘What a great idea.”  Looked on the other side and there was Excellent Adventure.

Shout! Factory has done it again and this Most Excellent Collection is a must own for Bill and Ted fans.  It even has an excellent slipcover.  I usually just toss them – but not this one.  This one is too friggin sweet.

I will have to acquire the Buckaroo Banzai Shout! Factory Blu-Ray after this…it has to be my next pick up.  My old Buckaroo DVD just won’t cut it.

RANK: A+