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TOP GUN
Blu-ray Edition

Film review by Gordon Justesen
Technical specs by Michael Jacobson

Stars: Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerritt
Director: Tony Scott
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 109 Minutes
Release Date: July 29
, 2008

"I feel the need…THE NEED FOR SPEED!"

Film ***

When I first saw Top Gun, I thought it was one of the greatest movies I had ever seen. Granted, I was seven years old at the time, and looking back now it would seem mighty silly to place this movie in the same league with Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Ghostbusters. Nevertheless, the movie is still enjoyable fun, as it continues to be one of the most popular movies of the 80s.

It's also the movie that made a breakout star of then-24 year old by the name of Tom Cruise. His charisma and energy paid off hugely in the role of cocky Navy air pilot Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. Had it not been for this movie, Cruise may never have become the leading man he is today, and the dynamite performances in Born on the Fourth of July, A Few Good Men, Jerry Maguire, The Last Samurai and Collateral may never have existed.

The movie's title refers to the elite training academy designed for only the best of fighter pilots. After a huge daredevil stunt in the film's opening, Maverick (Cruise) receives news that he is being sent there, along with his co-pilot Nick "Goose" Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards), in order to become THE BEST.

Once Maverick begins his elite training, he is faced with two potential distractions. The first is a rival in the form Iceman (Val Kilmer), who feels that Maverick is as irresponsible as they come. The second is that of Charlie Blackwood (Kelly McGillis), the super-attractive woman whom Maverick hits on at a club the night before he discovers she is in fact one of the instructors.

Now the love story portion of the movie is not one its stronger areas. Cruise and McGillis, if given more scenes together, might have struck some sort of memorable chemistry. One thing's for sure, they do enjoy a lengthy make out session in the shadows, with the song "Take My Breath Away" lurking on the soundtrack.

What makes Top Gun soar are the aerial sequences. I can't think of any other film before and around that time which made aerial flight so authentic that you felt like you were right there with the pilots. The nominations it got for the special effects work were well deserved. It was nominated against two equally superior movies; Aliens and Star Trek IV, and although James Cameron's film took home the prize, each of those movies included some major technical brilliance.   Luckily when you take a flight, the pilots don't fly like their Navy counterparts.  Business class flights can be exciting, but you will hopefully not experience the G-forces associated with a fighter jet.

The movie marked the first collaboration between director Tony Scott and producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. So it's fair to say that had this film never been made, Mr. Scott may never have been able to make stronger pictures for Bruckheimer such as Enemy of the State and Crimson Tide.

Top Gun, while not a masterpiece by any means, is still a technical marvel, and an important stepping stone for Cruise, Tony Scott, and most of everyone involved.

BONUS TRIVIA I: Look for pop up appearances from both Meg Ryan as Goose's wife and Tim Robbins as a fellow fighter pilot.

BONUS TRIVIA II: Cruise, Scott and producers Simpson and Bruckheimer all reunited four years later for, Days of Thunder, which could very much be considered Top Gun in a stockcar.

Video ***1/2

Top Gun flies high on Blu-ray.  The constant action and dogfight scenes ring out with an impressive clarity.  There are some murkier details on the ground here and there in darker scenes, but overall, a more than exemplary offering for an 80s film remastered for high definition.

Audio ****

I've been in the home video business most of my life, and it seems like at every juncture from BetaMax to DVD, Top Gun is the one videophiles turn to in order to demonstrate their audio system.  Let it be known that a proud tradition continues on Blu-ray.  With the aerial battles sounding swift, furious and thunderous, this TrueHD or DTS track locks you right in the middle of the action and never lets up...well, okay, except for some love scenes, but he DOES get back in the plane.  The terrific soundtrack filled with 80s classics also gets red carpet treatment with uncompressed audio.  In other words, get ready to rock!

Features ****

The disc includes a commentary track with Jerry Bruckheimer, Tony Scott & Naval Experts. A six part documentary chronicles the making of the film.  There is a look at the real pilots of the Navy and multi-angle storyboard comparisons with optional commentar.

Also featured are interviews with Tom Cruise, featurettes for survival training and behind-the-scenes, and four Music Videos: Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone", Berlin's "Take My Breath Away", Loverboy's "Heaven In Your Eyes", and "The Top Gun Anthem" performed by Harold Faltermeyer and Steve Stevens. Lastly, there are several TV Spots.

Summary:

Top Gun remains a pivotal piece of high powered moviemaking from the 1980s. It showcases the charisma of a young Tom Cruise and the visual power of director Tony Scott in one of his earliest directing gigs. The result is a movie that is formulaic as can be, but nevertheless engaging and very enjoyable.

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