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Paramount Home Video presents
Top Gun (Blu-ray) (1986)

"You don't have time to think up there. If you think, you're dead."
- Maverick (Tom Cruise)

Review By: David Krauss   
Published: October 10, 2008

Stars: Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis
Other Stars: Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerritt, Meg Ryan, Rick Rossovich, Tim Robbins
Director: Tony Scott

MPAA Rating: PG for (some sexual references)
Run Time: 01h:49m:35s
Release Date: July 29, 2008
UPC: 097361305646
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C D+A-A+ A

DVD Review

The DVD Review is by Mark Zimmer and the Extras Review is by Kevin Clemons and David Krauss

Paramount seems to be celebrating the crummy films of the 1980s lately, with special edition releases of such classics as Flashdance. Where that picture featured female eye candy, Top Gun tries to do the same for beefcake, combining, if possible, an even more ridiculous storyline with some well executed action sequences.

Pete Mitchell (Tom Cruise), appropriately call-signed Maverick, is a problematically rash Navy fighter pilot who gets into all sorts of hot water, even though he has undeniable talent. After an encounter with some Soviet MiGs, Maverick and his companion Goose (Anthony Edwards), are among a select few summoned for advanced training at the Fighter Weapons School at Miramar, California, popularly known as Top Gun. Once there, he again gets into trouble by not following orders, but the trainers, Jester (Michael Ironside) and Viper (Tom Skerritt), have a grudging respect for his skills. At the same time, Maverick finds himself falling for the female civilian intelligence liaison, Charlotte Blackwood (Kelly McGillis). But a fatal mishap on a training flight leads Maverick to doubt his abilities just when he needs them most.

It's hard to imagine a movie more packed with clichés than Top Gun, from Maverick's need to fulfill the dream of his father (who mysteriously went missing on a 1965 mission), to Maverick's cheekiness buzzing the tower when he knows that he shouldn't. And, of course, there's the obligatory 1980s chick-flick singalong session. Later, in order to prove Maverick's skills, he's conveniently provided with an incident that would, if it really happened, trigger World War III. In the paranoia of the Reagan years, however, it seemed like a good idea at the time. The one saving grace is that on a couple of occasions Maverick does manage to seriously screw things up, and even earns the disgruntlement of Goose. But like a lovers' quarrel, it can't be too serious.

Plenty has been written about the homoerotic subtext of Top Gun, and it's hard to deny its presence, from the gratuitous beefcake to the emotional ties between the fliers and their flying phallic symbols that dance sensuously alongside one another. The casting of boyish Kelly McGillis helps underscore the fact these guys really aren't all that interested in women, except as ego boosts. The action sequences, on the other hand, are often outstanding, with plenty of suspense, even on the practice runs, as well as the climactic battle sequence. Director Tony Scott imparts a solid rhythm to the cutting that helps keep it exciting without being hyperkinetic.

Tom Cruise is all boyish grins as Maverick, and when he's called upon to be emotional, the most he can manage is sullen. Of course, his character isn't all that deep, so it's not too big a detraction. Val Kilmer is equally one-note as rival pilot Iceman. Tom Skerritt comes off best as the parental figure who knew Maverick's father and the secret behind his disappearance. A young Meg Ryan also is in the cast as Goose's annoyingly bubbly wife, Carole. The glorification of brainless arrogance in the military and the enormous waste of taxpayer dollars for the gratification of screwoff flyboys, however, keeps this saga in the thoroughly annoying category from start to finish.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: D+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Although my colleague, Mark Zimmer, criticized Paramount's HD-DVD transfer of Top Gun, their Blu-ray effort looks mighty good to me. Colors are extraordinarily vibrant, from Kelly McGillis' red lipstick to the crystal blue sky where so much of the action transpires. Fleshtones look natural, too, and close-ups pop with razor sharp clarity. Pumped up contrast adds wonderful depth while enhancing shadow detail, and solid black levels provide a silky richness. A few speckles crop up now and then (after all, the film is 22 years old), and some of the aerial sequences sport noticeably more grain than the dramatic scenes, but for the most part, this is a smooth, lush presentation that's a pleasure to watch.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Top Gun requires a dynamic audio transfer and Paramount delivers in spades with two kick-ass options that catapult this '80s blockbuster into the 21st century. Without question, the best choice is the 6.1 DTS Master Audio track, which puts the viewer in the thick of the action with perfectly modulated sound. (The HD-DVD did not include a DTS track, so you'll have to buy the Blu-ray to experience this superior aural option.) From the fighter jets' daredevil maneuvers to Cruise and McGillis' corny come-ons, the audio is always crisp and full-bodied. The mix leans a bit toward the front channels, but there's still plenty of surround activity, and bass frequencies shine during the flight sequences. The all-important pop tunes sound superb when cranked up, but are also masterfully mixed when used as underscoring, so they never drown out the dialogue, and Harold Faltermeyer's pulsating score surrounds with ease.

The other terrific option is the noticeably softer, but equally detailed, Dolby 5.1 TrueHD track, which certainly gets the job done, but lacks the immediacy and punch of DTS.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
7 TV Spots/Teasers
2 Multiple Angles with remote access
2 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Tony Scott, writer Jack Epps, Jr., and various naval experts
Packaging: standard Blu-ray packaging
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Tom Cruise interviews
Extras Review: The Blu-ray disc imports all the extras from the 2004 special edition DVD (except for the comprehensive photo galleries), which is great news, given Paramount's misguided decision to forego any supplements on the Top Gun HD-DVD release. There's also a "new" extra (produced in 2004, but left off the SE DVD due to lack of disc space), Best of the Best: Inside the Real Top Gun, a 29-minute documentary that pays tribute to the respected insititution that trains and educates America's elite military pilots.

An audio commentary by director Tony Scott, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, writer Jack Epps, and Naval experts Mike Galpin, Pete Petteigrew, and Mike McCade bounces between chronicling the film's production and the advisors' take on the film's authenticity. Scott and Bruckheimer do the lion's share of the gabbing as they discuss the different cuts of the film, Scott's repeated firings before production began, and the filming of the now famous flight scenes.

The centerpiece of the supplements, however, is a two-and-a-half-hour (yes, I said two-and-a-half-hour) documentary detailing the picture's production and lasting appeal. Danger Zone: The Making of Top Gun covers every aspect of the film, from script and casting to shooting, the cooperation of the military, as well as the movie's release and impact. Interviews with nearly everyone in the cast and crew are included, as well as vintage on-set footage from the production. The documentary's opening moments are its best, as Bruckheimer, Scott, and writer Epps list the numerous studios that passed on Top Gun, and reminisce about their repeated efforts at casting. We also learn how Bruckheimer, Simpson, and Scott repeatedly had to dial down the aerial sequences so they could be captured on film.

Two multi-angle storyboard sequences (with optional commentray by Scott) are included for viewing, as well as music videos (for Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins, Take My Breath Away by Berlin, Heaven in Your Eyes by Loverboy, and Top Gun Anthem by Faltermeyer and Stevens) and seven TV spots. There's also a vintage Behind-the-Scenes Featurette, which runs five-and-a-half minutes and mixes film clips with 1986 interviews with Bruckheimer, Simpson, and Scott; a seven-and-a-half-minute Survival Training Featurette, which depicts the various (and often grueling) underwater and aerial training the actors had to endure; and six-and-a-half minutes of Tom Cruise interviews, in which the actor discusses his interest in flying, how he was approached to star in Top Gun, his experiences in the cockpit of an F-14, and what it was like to spend time on an aircraft carrier.

All the supplements are presented—unfortunately—in standard definition.

Extras Grade: A


Final Comments

I've never been much of a Top Gun fan, but the superior image and audio transfers on this Blu-ray disc might just make me one. Never has this iconic '80s blockbuster looked or sounded better, and with (practically) all the extras carted over from the previous special edition DVD, upgrading is a no-brainer for the film's aficionados. And if you're one of the few people on the planet who haven't yet seen this salute to pilots, testosterone, and unbridled ego, either count your blessings or head to the rental store and watch it in all its 1080p glory.


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