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Bill & Ted Face the Music

Nearly thirty years since the last instalment, the ‘Bill & Ted’ franchise roars back to life. ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ and ‘Bogus Journey’ were hardly high art. They had a sense of dumb fun appealing to audiences who enjoyed the increasingly silly humour. ‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ is more of the same, albeit with an older looking cast and young at heart antics.

Both now middle aged and dealing with life, Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) wonder how things have turned out. They don’t have long to ponder such issues when Kelly (Kristen Schaal), a visitor from the future, tells them they must write a song so earth and the universe can be saved. Working with their daughters and old friends such as the Grim Reaper (William Sadler), the bodacious duo race against the clock while creating the sweet music they crave.

There’s not much of a plot with ‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ which is part of its charm. Whilst it has few slow spots despite its brisk runtime, it conjures a healthy mix of nonsensical nostalgia. Bill and Ted discovering various versions of themselves is vaguely akin to ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens, although it’s doubtful Mr. Dickens would have written a film script such as this.

The fun from ‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ derives from the lead’s chemistry. Reeves and Winter energetically revive their roles as does William Sadler who clearly relishes his deathly persona. They are joined by a new cast who mostly succeed in settling into the familiar comedic rhythm of the older stars. The humour generally succeeds with the misses as minisucle as the intelligence level of a smattering of the film’s characters.

‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ is exactly as you’d expect. It’s an enjoyable enough trip for fans who have grown along with the series. It won’t rock your world as Bill and Ted would like but the ridiculous spectacle they offer is a welcome ray of light in darker times.

RATING OUT OF 10: 7

CURRENTLY SHOWING IN CINEMAS.

The New Mutants

Twenty years after the first ‘X-Men’ movie burst onto screens, comes the last instalment in the franchise ‘The New Mutants’. Based on a popular Marvel comic beginning in the early 1980’s, ‘The New Mutants’ gained its own followers as it successfully charted its unique course in the series. The long delayed film version, while not great, gives it a good go in offering a coda in a film series reaching its temporary conclusion.

Five young mutants, including Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams), Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Cannonball (Charlie Heaton), are held captive in a secret facility. Although mentored by the facility’s Doctor Reyes (Alice Braga), the group are desperate to flee. Fighting to escape past mistakes and forge new futures, the team learn to use their special abilities to become the heroes they were born to be.

Directed by Josh Boone, ‘The New Mutants’ is a darker and more personal entry in the ‘X-Men’ franchise. There’s less saving the world and more saving themselves as the group try to overcome their fears. It’s like a teenage-angst story with the young mutant’s developing powers reflecting their growing maturity. This makes for an interesting instalment, free of the overblown excess of other films.

The cast do a fair job with their sketchily written characters. Williams succeeds the best with Wolfsbane exactly as seen from the comics. The mix of horror, drama and action is competently handled without being amazing. The excitement levels come in occasional spurts with the low key atmosphere and small ensemble working despite this lack of consistent incident.

‘The New Mutants’ is decent which is about the highest compliment one could give. It’s engaging without being too boring. As the grand finale to the 20th Century Fox ‘X-Men’ series, it may surprise fans expecting a huge blow-out. It provides a way forward for the new film owners, Disney, to create their own mutant-led tales with what comes next full of intriguing possibilities.

Rating out of 10: 6

CURRENTLY SHOWING IN CINEMAS.