When it comes to sequels, Science Fiction films seem to know what they’re doing better than most genres. Not only are films like Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Aliens regarded as some of the best sequels ever made but, in my opinion, they are some of the best films ever made. So it might seem a little odd that Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey hardly ever seems to get a single mention, to the extent that I wasn’t aware it existed until several years after falling in love with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. If I remember correctly, I came upon it purely by chance whilst sifting through the television channels at the house of an older relative. I only ever came across it twice and, for a while, I wasn’t sure if I had discovered a continuation of one of my favourite stories, or if it was all some kind of fever dream. Here we are many years later, and I am delighted to tell you that Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey does indeed exist, having been released in 1991- 2 years after the original.
We follow Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan, III as they are murdered by evil robotic versions of themselves from the future, and must traverse the afterlife in an attempt to return home, while once again saving the world. A small caveat about these names- it’s never explained why Bill’s family uses the title of “esquire” and, although “Ted” is a nickname, the film’s subtitles put quotations around “Theodore” which I think is brilliant. Our plot actually begins in the distant future of 2691, where the Earth is clean and the clothes are neon. It’s definitely an interesting take on a possible future, and makes the wise decision of being so far into the future that it is still a possibility. I’m not saying that setting a film closer to the present is a bad decision, it’s often necessary for the plot, but here it allows for a suspension of disbelief. An example would be Back to the Future Part II, which was set in 2015, and as reality caught up (and surpassed) that year, it was almost impossible to escape comparing how differently things had turned out. Presumably, nobody reading this will be alive in 2961, so we can just sit back and accept it as a future, despite how fantastical it may seem.
This time around, instead of battling against the passage of time itself, we are given a genuine villain in the form of De Nomolos, whose creations Evil Robot Bill & Ted, are set to take over the lives of the actual Bill & Ted so that De Nomolos can shape reality to his will. It’s certainly a little odd to jump from not having a villain to having one, but it’s clear that he exists to set the plot into motion, plus it gives Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves a chance to portray different versions of their iconic characters. They’re clearly having a lot of fun flexing their acting muscles because that joy comes across on screen, and as evil as they are, I can’t help liking Evil Robot Bill & Ted. However the greatest addition to the cast, in my opinion is the Duke of Spook, the Doc of Shock, The Man with No Tan, Death himself – the Grim Reaper. Actor William Sattler has been dressed has an homage to Death’s appearance in the 1957 film The Seventh Seal, as well as having his introduction parody the plot of that film. In it, a knight plays a game of chess with Death in the hopes of prolonging his demise by prolonging the game which translates in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey to a game of Battleship. Not only is it a brilliant way of modernising the idea but it is also a fantastic way of humanising Death, by demonstrating what a sore loser he is which, in turn, allows for a repeat of the joke with several different games. I won’t dare spoil the joke here, so you’ll just have to see for yourself.
Another unique concept brought to this sequel is the portrayal of Hell which, as Bill remarks, is different from the artwork of many album covers. We’ve seen the portrayal of A Fiery Pit over and over again, but here it is portrayed as a never-ending corridor of rooms. Inside each of these rooms lie some form of personal punishment, and it is up to the deceased which torment they are are going to suffer for all eternity. It allows for some wacky set design and some truly terrifying costume design. Good luck not seeing Granny S. Preston Esquire or The Easter Bunny in your nightmares tonight. On the other side of the spectrum is Heaven, which is seen here as a vast, open space with Greek architecture. It also has a slightly purple hue to it which gives it a little more character than just being plain white. It also allows us to see some of those historical figures that you probably thought were going to be absent in this film (and were wisely absent from Hell) namely Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Ghandi. They don’t attempt to portray God here either, which is a nice touch, instead giving us an infinite stairway which ascends into a glowing abyss. Yes, it’s a Stairway to Heaven, and yes, I thought this was funnier than I maybe should have. It is that attention to details in the gags and dialogue of this film that provides me with such admiration though, because it shows how much the development team cared about this project.
There is less CGI in this instalment, and the music isn’t as timeless as it was in the original, but I don’t really think that it matters. It certainly doesn’t matter enough to make me notice these things during my viewing of the film itself, as these only dawned on me while I was looking back at it. The characters, story, and finale are so engaging that I genuinely failed to pay attention to the finer details of the differences in the films’ inner workings until after the fact. I honestly think that there should be differences when a making a sequel, because it helps to keep things fresh and interesting. This, in turn, allows for an element of surprise that wouldn’t be present if your film was considered a “re-hash” of the original. Here’s hoping that Bill and Ted Face the Music continues the trend of being genuinely new.
Party On Dudes!