Tag Archives: William Sadler

Die Hard 2 (1990) Review

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Die Hard 2

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Bruce Willis as John McClane
Bonnie Bedelia as Holly Gennero McClane
William Atherton as Dick Thornburg
Reginald VelJohnson as Sergeant Al Powell
Franco Nero as General Ramon Esperanza
William Sadler as Colonel William Stuart
John Amos as Major Grant
Director: Renny Harlin

When a team of terrorists threaten to destroy an airport and demand the release of the drug lord Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero), detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) tries to stop them.

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Die Hard was such a big hit upon its release in 1988, and for very good reason. It’s a great action movie that manages to get pretty much everything right, and over 3 decades later it still holds up. A sequel was inevitable and released 2 years after its release as Die Hard 2 (also known as Die Harder). It isn’t anywhere near the quality of the first movie by any means, it is more of the same of the original but just not executed as well. With that said, it was still very enjoyable for what it was.

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The writing is really the key problem with the movie, its not terrible but generally lukewarm at best. It does copy a lot from its predecessor, even the part where it takes place at Christmas. However it skimps on the character moments, themes, and iconic villain. Also while I wouldn’t say that Die Hard is one of the more realistic action movies out there, Die Hard 2 requires a lot more suspension of disbelief. The premise is farfetched, and the movie can get over the top. Not that it’s a bad thing mind you, it’s just that it feels very much like an 90s action movie, whereas the first movie was an 80s action film while still feeling timeless. There is also a lot of convenience when it comes to scenarios that occur, and especially with how John McClane manages to do certain things. Some situations felt totally implausible, even for an action movie. Those are generally its weaker points but on the whole its not bad. In all fairness it does some things quite well. The movie is also well paced and intense, wasting no time to get to the action. Also, there’s the setting at an airport. It certainly is not as claustrophobic as the first movie’s contained setting in the hotel. However it still allows for opportunities for good action.

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The acting all around is good. First of all is of course Bruce Willis reprising his action star making role of John McClane. He definitely helps the movie, his sense of humour, charisma and relatability makes him fun to watch. To a degree he does have plot armour and feels less vulnerable despite often being put through the wringer. However there’s nothing movie breaking, and you still feel it’s the same character who ended the first movie. Unfortunately, the characters other than McClane fall a little flat. The rest of the cast with the likes of Bonnie Bedelia, William Atherton, Dennis Franz and more do play their parts well enough but stand out less than the supporting cast in the first movie. The villains in particular are quite forgettable. The first movie had a strong dynamic between Willis and Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber, an this movie doesn’t really have that. However the main villains here aren’t terrible, they just pale in comparison to what came before.

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Taking on the Die Hard sequel is director Renny Harlin. There isn’t anything inherently bad about the direction, it’s mostly good. However it isn’t as well tuned as John McTiernan’s work on the first movie, despite them having similar directing styles. On a technical level, it certainly has aged worse than the first movie. There are more special effects used this time and it ends up dating the movie further. That aside, it is technically well made. The snowy atmosphere is perfect, and it really gives the movie a nice Christmas aesthetic that the first movie lacked despite it being known as a Christmas movie. There’s a lot of entertaining action sequences, from chases, to gunfights and fight scenes. The action is certainly larger scale, and give the way for much more carnage and mayhem.

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Die Hard 2 is probably the least talked about movie in the series. It definitely doesn’t work as well as the previous movie, however it is still pretty good, and worth watching if you liked the first movie. The action is fun to watch, its well-paced, and Bruce Willis carries much of the film. As an over-the-top 90s action movie, it succeeds.

Bill and Ted Face the Music (2020) Review

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Bill & Ted Face the Music

Time: 91 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]  Violence & coarse language
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Theodore “Ted” Logan
Alex Winter as William S. “Bill” Preston, Esq.
Kristen Schaal as Kelly
Samara Weaving as Theadora “Thea” Preston
Brigette Lundy-Paine as Wilhelmina “Billie” Logan
William Sadler as the Grim Reaper
Anthony Carrigan as Dennis Caleb McCoy
Erinn Hayes as Princess Elizabeth Logan
Jayma Mays as Princess Joanna Preston
Hal Landon Jr. as Captain Jonathan Logan
Beck Bennett as Officer Deacon Logan
Kid Cudi as himself
Amy Stoch as Missy
Holland Taylor as The Great Leader
Jillian Bell as Dr. Taylor Wood
Director: Dean Parisot

The ruler of the future tells best friends Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) they must compose a new song to save life as we know it. But instead of writing it, they decide to travel through time to steal it from their older selves. Meanwhile, their young daughters devise their own musical scheme to help their fathers bring harmony to the universe.

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I watched the first two Bill and Ted movies (and rewatched in the case of Excellent Adventure) recently, they were quite enjoyable if flawed movies from the 80s and 90s. With the third instalment released in 2020, I was wondering about how it would be. With an almost 30 year gap since the previous movie, I had no idea how it would turn out, especially as those movies felt like they were very much of their time. Bill & Ted Face of the Music actually turned out to be pretty good, and better than I was expecting.

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There is a worry about reboots (even though it’s the third instalment here), especially with franchises where the last movies came out a long time ago. You’d expect that it would just retread familiar territory and be a cash grab ultimately. However it captures the charm of Bill & Ted, while providing enough stuff to make it fresh and unique on it’s own right instead of just rehashing the first two movies. It not only delivers on the original’s heart and spirit, it also pushes the story further, more than I expected it. It keeps the DNA of the original two movies intact but have an incredibly heartfelt story to go with it. Like with the past movies, they are at the right length at 90 minutes, is very fast paced, and it just really works well. It’s also got quite a lot of good humour that works quite well.

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Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves reprise their iconic roles of Bill & Ted, and even after nearly 30 years later, they still have the charisma and chemistry which made the characters so great in the first place. They aren’t the only main characters in this movie, there’s also Samara Weaving and Bridgette Lundy-Paine who play Bill & Ted’s daughters. Their dynamic was also great and they embody that same spirit of their fathers, and it’s great when they are all together onscreen. William Sadler return as Death from Bogus Journey, once again he stole every scene he was in. The rest of the cast are good too, Anthony Carrigan was also a standout among the supporting cast.

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Bill & Ted Face the Music is directed by Dean Parisot, the direction is serviceable and is good enough for the movie to work. The visual effects in the first two movies weren’t that good, and that’s mostly because of it being the 80s and 90s so they can still be enjoyable in a cheesy sort of way. While the effects here are a little better, they are a bit average, and the colour palette overall is rather drab and boring at times. The composed music is also rather standard blockbuster music, which pales in contrast to the previous soundtracks.

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Bill & Ted Face the Music was quite enjoyable for me, capturing the charm and fun of the first two movies while feeling updated for today in all the right ways. If you didn’t like any of the other Bill & Ted movies, it’s not worth checking out. However as someone who does like the movies, I was pleasantly surprised by it, it really was a fitting conclusion to this trilogy. If you haven’t watched any of the Bill & Ted movies, I at least recommend giving Excellent Adventure a viewing, it’s a classic for a reason.

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991) Review

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Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey

Time: 93 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains coarse language
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Ted “Theodore” Logan/Evil Ted
Alex Winter as William S. “Bill” Preston/Evil Bill
William Sadler as Death
Joss Ackland as Chuck De Nomolos
George Carlin as Rufus
Director: Pete Hewitt

Two robots Evil Bill (Alex Winter) and Evil Ted (Keanu Reeves) are sent by Chuck De Nomolos (Joss Ackland) to the 20th century where they try to stop their doppelgangers Bill and Ted respectively from winning a band competition.

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Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is known as an 80s classic, I had known for a while that a sequel titled Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey existed but I didn’t really know anything about it, nor did I watch it until now. All I knew about it was that it had something to do with the Grim Reaper. This has to be one of the craziest and out there follow ups to a classic, and while the reception has been a bit mixed, I did enjoy it.

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Having watched Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, it’s pretty hard to imagine what a sequel would be aside from just a repeat of the first movie. The movie ditches the earnest cheese in favour of outright weirdness. It doesn’t go back to the time travel elements of the first movie and goes in a completely different direction. From the moment it introduces evil robots impersonating Bill & Ted, you can tell it is a completely different kind of movie from the first, and then there’s the grim reaper and hell stuff and much more. It is worth noting that the original title for Bogus Journey was Bill & Ted Go to Hell, which would’ve been a fairly honest title for the film. The movie is chaotic, bizarre at times and deals with much darker stuff compared to Excellent Journey. In fact, I kind of admire how out there the movie is. It really embraces how wacky and dumb its premise is, much like the first movie. The plot itself is okay, like with the first movie there isn’t much to it. It is predictable but entertaining. At times the film skates close to meandering territory a few times and it doesn’t make sense (again like the first movie). At a certain point some alien characters are introduced out of nowhere and become involved with the plot, and they don’t fit into the plot at all. It’s almost as if they were added to compensate for the lack of a huge cast of characters. They really didn’t need that, Bill & Ted as well as the Grim Reaper were enough. Bogus Journey is also not as iconic or streamlined as the first film, and maybe it’s because Excellent Adventure is a flat out classic, but the sequel isn’t quite as memorable, despite its weirdness. Nonetheless, maybe it’s because I went into it not knowing anything, but I found it funny, inventive, creative, and all around entertaining.

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Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves return as Bill & Ted respectively, and once play their iconic roles very well and they share some great chemistry. They also act well as the evil robotic versions of Bill & Ted. William Sadler plays Death, and he was one of the standouts in this movie, he’s hilarious. Playing as the Grim Reaper, he starts out being rather uptight but grows as a character when he meets Bill and Ted. George Carlin like in the previous movie isn’t in the movie enough, but was great in the scenes he was in. The main villain played by Joss Ackland is pretty weak and doesn’t have much of a motivation, he’s just sort of there to set the plot into motion.

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The first film was directed by Stephen Herek, this time it is Peter Hewitt who is directing. Now it’s definitely because of how crazy the movie is but the direction here impressed me more than the first movie’s. Whereas Excellent Adventure is very much an 80s movies, Bogus Journey is very much a 90s movie, and the costumes, makeup and song choices are fitting. The CGI can look pretty bad, especially the green screen moments. Some sequences work really well, especially the hell and nightmare scenes. Those hell/nightmare moments particularly looked like they were right out of a Tim Burton movie, which in this case is a compliment. The locations in the movie were a lot more creative and unique than its predecessor, and a lot of the sets were quite stylised.

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Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey is a flawed yet bizarre and entertaining movie. I like the second quite a lot because of how weird it is, but overall I think that Excellent Adventure is a more well put together, straight forward and less movie. All in all, even if I didn’t like it, I would’ve respected and appreciated it anyways for trying to do something different instead of just repeating the same notes of the predecessor. I’m interested to see what Bill & Ted Face the Music turns out to be, especially as it’s made 3 decades after Bogus Journey.