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Bill and Ted Face the Music is a Joyous Finale

Bill and Ted Face the Music

When Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson first pitched their script for Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure in 1987, they had difficulty finding a studio that would take a chance on such a silly, over-the-top idea. With 31 years of hindsight, those studios might have jumped at the opportunity. Bill S. Preston Esquire (Alex Winter) and “Ted” Theodore Logan (Keanu Reeves) quickly became icons and have only grown in popularity due to nostalgia for the 80’s and 90’s. After living through the meat grinder of America in 2020, Bill and Ted’s positive attitude about any situation they find themselves in is refreshing. Whether they are trying to pass high school history, stopping evil robots, or saving reality, no obstacle can keep them down. The franchise has produced two T.V. shows, comics, video games, a musical, and everyone’s favorite… Bill and Ted’s Most Atypical Movie Cards and now Bill and Ted Face the Music. Bill and Ted is a franchise, dudes.

How many of us have quoted these movies with our bros? How many have triumphantly played air guitar in tribute to them? How many have been waiting expectantly for the finale to be released? I was so eager to see how the saga came to a close ever since the movie started production. After all this anticipation, I am happy to report that Bill and Ted Face the Music is a most bodacious sequel that lives up to the legacy of its excellent prequels.

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter have effortless chemistry as Ted and Bill (it feels kind of weird writing it like that…) whenever they are on-screen, but also bring a gruff edge to their performance when they play progressively more jaded versions of themselves. The script gives both of them some hilarious lines as they misunderstand their wives, themselves, and their mission. Both bring so much physical comedy to their scenes while never feeling too jarring. They also model a relationship that is not often seen in film, a supportive, loving friendship between men. Their work together is joyous to watch and cements them in my mind as one of the great cinematic duos. 

One issue the film faces head on is how to retcon the ending of the previous movie, where Bill and Ted seemingly wrote the song to save humanity. Rather than ignoring that, the opening scenes focus on how far Bill and Ted have gone to embrace their destiny. As Bill and Ted fumble around with bizarre instruments and begin throat singing at a wedding reception, we are shown all the years of dead ends they’ve faced and what brought them to this moment rather than it being limited to exposition. 

Of course, Bill and Ted have also been raising their two daughters to be versions of themselves from their prime. Once they begin their mission to make the best band of all time, their true strengths are revealed. Their years of listening to music and creating their own inspire a passion in every historical figure they meet, even Death himself! Samara Weaving and Bridgette Lundy-Paine are clearly having a great time with their roles and I was too as I watched them go further into the past while their fathers traveled to the future.

The two main stories complement each other as refined and trimmed down versions of the previous films in the series. While Billie and Thea’s adventure recalls the quest to find historical figures in the first movie, Bill and Ted’s journey more closely resembles the second film where they faced evil versions of themselves. The writers enjoyed building on the legacy they created while not relying on nostalgic references like other big franchise movies. These cinematic parallels also emphasize the theme of passing the torch, as Bill and Ted realize their destiny was fulfilled by their daughters, the true main characters. These two plotlines converge as all of time begins to converge as well, with a final scene of truly epic proportions.

While many smaller roles get terrific comedic bits to chew on (the marriage counselor fleeing her office, Louis Armstrong being transfixed by a smartphone), some feel under-utilized or mishandled. Dennis, the Bill and Ted Universe’s Terminator, started to grate on my nerves in the final act. His addition felt unnecessary in a group filled with great comedic roles and few straight men. Kid Cudi, while hilarious in parts, only seemed to have one joke and the reveal that he knew about Station, the extremely smart aliens from the second film, was confusing in a way none of the other references were. My issues with Dennis and Kid Cudi are relatively minor compared to one missed opportunity I noticed. During the first act of the movie, I was excited to see the story of the princesses after their bizarre double date/couples therapy appointment, but instead they are mostly ignored. The intriguing setup left me a bit disappointed. Their family members all have strong character arcs while they are mostly absent. 

Overall, the stories of Bill and Ted, and Billie and Thea were so strong that my minor issues with the film didn’t detract from my enjoyment. Bill and Ted Face the Music is a joyous finale to one of my favorite comedy series of all time and one I hope to revisit soon.

Score: 8.5

Comics Deserve Better Episode 8: Fearscape by Ryan O’Sullivan, Andrea Mutti, Vladmir Popov, and Andworld Design

Brian, Darci, and Logan court controversy yet again by discussing the news about the Keanu Reeves/BOOM! Studios KickStarter BRZKR as well as the announcement of the 4 Kids Walk Into the Bank film and the 2020 Ignatz Awards. But the main event of the episode is a discussion of Ryan O’Sullivan and Andrea Mutti‘s Vault Comics fantasy series Fearscape. Two of our hosts liked this book, but one was definitely drinking the haterade. You’ll have to listen to the episode to find out who’s who. Finally, other comics mentioned in this episode include Tartarus, Akagami no Shirayukihime, Grendel Kentucky, Ice Cream Man Presents: Quarantine Comix, Seance Tea Party, and Powers: The Best Ever. (Episode art by Andrea Mutti)

BOOM! Kicks Keanu Reeves, Matt Kindt, and Ron Garney’s BRZRKR to Kickstarter

As part of a campaign to bring new readers to comics BOOM! Studios has announced that BRZRKR, the new series from the iconic Keanu Reeves alongside New York Times bestselling co-writer Matt Kindt, superstar artist Ron Garney, colorist Bill Crabtree, and letterer Clem Robins, will be offered in complete graphic novel sets through Kickstarter. The full campaign can be found here at Kickstarter.

Fans will have an opportunity to pre-order all three graphic novel collections of the new series in regular, limited edition and ultra-rare, premium formats through October 1 at 12:00 pm PDT. BRZRKRgraphic novel collections offered through Kickstarter will begin shipping alongside the book market release of BRZRKR Vol.1 in September 2021, with subsequent volumes shipping at the same time as their book market counterparts (unless otherwise noted for later delivery).

The move by BOOM! signals Kickstarter’s continued shift from a crowdfunding platform to a distribution platform. This shifts the site to another socially driven distribution channel. In the announcement, it’s clear that the publisher is working directly with Kickstarter’s Head of Publishing and Comics, Margot Atwell. Kickstarter has been criticized over the years that their platform is no longer for “new projects in need of funding” and instead has shifted to be a pre-order system for product already being released. Kickstarter has in the past pushed back at this claim but with this project, all pretenses are gone.

In this brutally violent new series, the man known only as Berzerker is half-mortal and half-God, cursed and compelled to violence…even at the sacrifice of his sanity.  But after wandering the world for centuries, Berzerker may have finally found a refuge – working for the U.S. government to fight the battles too violent and too dangerous for anyone else. In exchange, Berzerker will be granted the one thing he desires – the truth about his endless blood-soaked existence…and how to end it.

Ron Garney Joins Keanu Reeves and Matt Kindt on BRZRKR

BOOM! Studios has announced that superstar artist Ron Garney is the new series artist for BRZRKR, the upcoming twelve-issue limited series from the iconic Keanu Reeves in his Must Read comic book writing debut alongside New York Times bestselling co-writer Matt Kindt, colorist Bill Crabtree, and letterer Clem Robins.

The man known only as B is half-mortal and half-God, cursed and compelled to violence…even at the sacrifice of his sanity.  But after wandering the world for centuries, B may have finally found a refuge – working for the U.S. government to fight the battles too violent and too dangerous for anyone else. In exchange, B will be granted the one thing he desires – the truth about his endless blood-soaked existence…and how to end it.

BRZRKR #1 features main cover art by superstar illustrator Rafael Grampá, as well as a variant cover art by superstar artist Mark Brooks.

BRZRKR #1

Keanu Reeves, Matt Kindt, Alessandro Vitti, Bill Crabtree, and Clem Robins Debut BRZRKR in October

BOOM! Studios has announced BRZRKR, a twelve-issue limited series from the iconic Keanu Reeves in his comic book writing debut alongside New York Times bestselling co-writer Matt Kindt and acclaimed artist Alessandro Vitti, colorist Bill Crabtree, and letterer Clem Robins in a brutally violent new series about one immortal warrior’s fight through the ages. BRZRKR #1 will debut in comic shops October 2020.

The man known only as Berzerker is half-mortal and half-God, cursed and compelled to violence…even at the sacrifice of his sanity.  But after wandering the world for centuries, Berzerker may have finally found a refuge – working for the U.S. government to fight the battles too violent and too dangerous for anyone else. In exchange, Berzerker will be granted the one thing he desires – the truth about his endless blood-soaked existence…and how to end it.

BRZRKR #1 features main cover art by superstar illustrator Rafael Grampá as well as variant cover art by Vitti and artist Mark Brooks.

BRZRKR #1

Keanu Reeves Gets Shrunk for Cyberpunk 2077 Toys from McFarlane Toys

Entering into the new year, McFarlane Toys has announced that it has begun a licensing agreement with CD Projekt Red to create action figures for Cyberpunk 2077! For the next 3 years, McFarlane Toys will be bringing fans the newest figures from the role-playing video game Cyberpunk 2077. Today, you can pre-order the latest figures online at GameStop.

The first wave of the McFarlane Toys Cyberpunk 2077 range will feature two sizes of the Johnny Silverhand action figure, including a 7-inch and 12-inch version. It will also include a 7-inch (Male) V figure as well. The 7-inch figures will have 22 points of articulation and replicate the likeness of the character, for the price of $24.99. The 12-inch Johnny Silverhand has an MSRP of $39.99. All figures will be available to purchase at major retailers in Spring 2020!

Cyberpunk 2077 will be released April 16, 2020 for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, with the version for Google Stadia set to launch the same year. The game has won more than 200 awards, including the Golden Joystick Award for Most Anticipated Game. Recently, Cyberpunk 2077 has also received media and fan attention for its star-studded soundtrack. 

Advance Book Review: For Your Consideration: Keanu Reeves

For Your Consideration: Keanu Reeves

Larissa Zageris and Kitty Curran’s new illustrated book of essays/biography/fan fiction For Your Consideration: Keanu Reeves doesn’t come out until October, but my reading of it timed perfectly with the announcement of the fourth Matrix film and the end of filming Bill and Ted Face the Music. Keanu Reeves is the Internet’s boyfriend, has three film franchises (Matrix, Bill and Ted, John Wick), and resisted Disney/Marvel’s siren call. So, it’s the perfect time to look back at his career, see why he was loved and derided, and maybe even why he is more aspirational than any self-help guru.

Zageris and Curran structure For Your Consideration: Keanu Reeves like a series of essays looking at different aspects of Keanu Reeves’ career with fun extras like trivia and a quiz about which character named “John” played by Reeves you are (I was John Constantine.). There’s also a spaghetti Western-style fan fiction about what he was up to in the two year gap between Devil’s Advocate (1997) and The Matrix (1999), and best of all, a pitch for a romantic comedy/musical spinoff of John Wick set in Paris and co-starring Charlize Theron and Winona Ryder.

The five essays cover a range of topics from how Reeves’ vulnerable approach to acting clashed with some critics and endeared fans, his identity as Asian-American/Canadian man, his hard-working approach to his acting craft, his collaborations with both actors and business partners, and finally, one about his roles that fall on the “evil” side of the spectrum. A repeated theme is how Reeves’ main goal as an actor is to create a pocket reality for audiences to project themselves on them. He does this by working tirelessly at different skills his characters have (The eight months of kung fu training for The Matrix, surfing dangerous areas in Kauai for Point Break.) and also actively listening to his scene partners and not having his performance overwhelm theirs. Zageris and Curran state that this quality is why actresses like Sandra Bullock and Winona Ryder want to work with him multiple times, and Bullock saying his kindness to her and rapport in Speed helped ease her into the world of show business.

However, what makes For Your Consideration go beyond just a blow by blow recap/analysis of Keanu Reeves’ 30+ year career is Larissa Zageris and Kitty Curran using him as a vehicle to explore American society’s changing ideals of masculinity, the role of the Internet and celebrity, and how Reeves may have even paved the way for Asian-American representation in pop culture though he mainly plays white-passing roles. They discuss about how Reeves’ body is filmed like a female actor in some of his movies, and the similarities of how critics talk about his acting like assuming just because he played an airhead slacker in the Bill and Ted films that he was one and focusing on his looks and not his ability. As far as action movies, Zageris and Curran write about how Reeves’ earnest approach and emotional openness in films like Point Break and Speed set him apart from the machismo and smartassery of actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis.

At times, For Your Consideration: Keanu Reeves veers from being a work of cultural and film criticism with jokes to being almost a straight-up, self-help book with Keanu Reeves being held up as an example of how we should be. This goes beyond his characters’ mantras of “Be excellent” and Internet memes of calling people breathtaking and warm, vulnerable stories about how he uses Shakespeare monologues to stay calm and would rather read a book than be a celebrity.

Some of the self-help bits pop up in the chapter about collaboration that discusses how Reeves acts as if he’s in a supporting role even he is a leading man and praises his co-stars in interviews instead of talking about himself. The chapter also shows that he isn’t afraid to pursue his passions like bookmaking and motorcycle design and that his approach to these businesses mirrors his work with Chad Stahelski, who went from being his stunt double on The Matrix to directing him in all three John Wick films. There is a quote about Reeves’ dedication to learning fight choreography, gunplay, etc so that Stahelski has a full range of creative choices instead of cutting around him. (Basically, he was throwing shade on the Taken movies.)

Even if there isn’t enough space to go into detail of each and every Keanu Reeves role, Larissa Zageris and Kitty Curran perform an excellent close reading of Keanu Reeves the actor and human being with funny spot illustrations like a “human evolution” chart from Theodore Logan to John Wick, bearded badass. It isn’t a total hagiography with some critiques of Reeves’ accent work and deadpan descriptions of some of his “weirder” film choices like Bad Batch and Knock Knock, which I want to track down. However, it’s an appreciation of actor, who wants to take audiences on heroic (or anti-heroic) journeys into the world with him not just as a guide, but as someone they can identify with and walk out of the theater playing air guitar, doing kung fu, killing a man with a pencil, or maybe just hugging one’s beloved pooch a little tighter.

Overall Rating: 8.0

Quirk Books provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Bill & Ted Face the Music as Ted “Theodore” Logan and Bill S. Preston Esq. Reunite for a Third Film

BLOOM announced today that Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter will officially be reuniting on screen after 27 years as the legendary Ted “Theodore” Logan (Reeves) and Bill S. Preston Esq. (Winter) in the highly anticipated third installment of the Bill & Ted comedy, Bill & Ted Face the Music. Following Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, original creators Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon have penned the script, with Dean Parisot confirmed to direct. Scott Kroopf will produce together with Alex Lebovici and Steve Ponce of Hammerstone Studios, with Steven Soderbergh serving as an executive producer alongside Scott Fischer, John Ryan Jr., and John Santilli.

MGM owns the rights to the film and will release in the U.S. under their Orion Pictures banner. BLOOM is handling international sales, which commenced in Cannes this week. Endeavor Content negotiated the deal.

When we last met Bill and Ted they were time-traveling teenagers trying to pass history class and win the battle of the bands. Once prophesized to save the universe with their rock and roll, middle age and the responsibilities of family have caught up with these two best friends who have not yet fulfilled their destiny. They’ve written thousands of tunes, but they have yet to write a good one, much less the greatest song ever written. With the fabric of time and space tearing around them, a visitor from the future warns our heroes that only their song can save life as we know it. Out of luck and fresh out of inspiration, Bill and Ted set out on a time travel adventure to seek the song that will set their world right and bring harmony in the universe as we know it. Together with the aid of their daughters, a new crop of historical figures, and some sympathetic music legends, Bill and Ted find much, much more than just a song. The film is currently in pre-production.

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