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Paramount Studios presents
Top Gun: SE (1986)

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

Review By: Kevin Clemons  
Published: December 13, 2004

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

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, language, violence
Run Time: 01h:49m:17s
Release Date: December 14, 2004
UPC: 097360563849
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A C+AB+ B+

DVD Review

Of all of the films I loved as a child, only a handful have passed the test of time. Top Gun is surely among them, a film about fighter pilots and their personal lives. The story is wooden in its construction of an unnecessary love story, but thrilling when we are shown dizzying dogfight scenes that may rank as some of the best of their kind ever put on film.

Top Gun focuses on the life of Lt. Pete (Maverick) Mitchell, an up-and-coming fighter pilot in the United States Navy, and follows him through his time at the Navy's elite flying school. It is made clear that the best of the best attend the school with only one being named the Top Gun, the single best pilot in the class. At flight school, Maverick meets his competition in Iceman (Kilmer), a cocky and brash pilot who may in fact be better than our hero. He also meets Charlie (McGillis), an instructor who wants to hear more about Maverick's recent encounters with a MIG and with whom Maverick becomes romantically involved.

To be honest, there is really no central story here; one may suggest the central love story and Maverick's dealing with the loss of his father as possible options. But to me, the film serves as a showcase for the aerial sequences. By employing multiple cameras and placing the viewer as close to the cockpit of a moving plane as they ever will likely be, director Tony Scott delivers a thrilling recreation of tense and fast aerial combat.

Since the film obviously cannot be in the air the entire time, we are saddled with the relationship between Maverick and Charlie. It is a stale, lifeless on-screen romance that never offers any type of passion, possibly because the closest the two ever get is when Maverick stops by to shower. In some ways, as was referenced in the film Sleep with Me, the film may actually be more about Maverick's relationship with the guys than with Charlie. This is a movie romance that is possibly the worst of the worst.

The lack of overall quality in any area of Top Gun is irrelevant because this is the type of film that will stand the test of time. Most of its fans are those who were children or young adults at the time of its release (including this reviewer) and it is a film for the kid in all of us. I surely wanted to be a fighter pilot after seeing the film, along with all of my friends, and there is still something thrilling about it to this day.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in a new and amazing 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, this DVD release is likely to be the best it has ever looked. Sharpness and detail are right on, making the aerial scenes look positively stunning. The film shows no damage on the print and there is no excessive grain evident. Colors and fleshtones are crisp and defined with no bleeding and with just the right amount of depth. This gets my vote as one of the top ten transfers of 2004.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: As if a stunning audio track were not enough the disc also boasts two excellent audio mixes. A Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 6.1 discrete mix are offered and while the Dolby Digital mix is worthy of praise, the DTS tracks booms across the room. The split surround speakers are put to extensive use with some sharp and well-defined effects and ambience. The .1 LFE channel hits some rich and tight bass in the scenes featuring the fighter planes. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout making the DTS track a rich and enveloping experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
7 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Tony Scott, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, writer Jack Epps, and advisers Mike Galpin, Pete Petteigrew, and Mike McCade
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. 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
Extras Review: Though the film has been released in a two-disc edition, the number of extra features is far from overwhelming for a blockbuster release, but what is here certainly of quality. The first disc features a commentary by director Tony Scott, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, writer Jack Epps, and advisers Mike Galpin, Pete Petteigrew, and Mike McCade. The track bounces between the production of the film to the thoughts of the advisers and the films authenticity. Scott and Bruckheimer do the lion's share of the speaking as they talk about the different cuts of the film, Scott's repeated firings before production began, and the filming of the now famous flight scenes.

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 are also included on the first platter, as well as seven TV spots.

The main extra feature on the second disc is a two-and-a-half-hour documentary chronicling the production and the film's lasting appeal. The documentary covers every aspect of the film from script, casting, shooting, cooperationof the military, as well as the release and impact of the film. Interviews with nearly everyone in the cast and crew are included here as is vintage footage from the production. The opening moments of the documentary are its best as Bruckheimer, Scoot, and writer Jack Epps chronicle the numerous studios that passed on the film as well as the casting that stalled several times. The moments with the advisers are also worthy of note as it is reveals that Bruckheimer, Simpson, and Scott repeatedly had to dial down the aerial sequences so they could be captured on film. Finally, two storyboard sequences are included for viewing.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

I am glad that Top Gun has finally garnered a special edition that offers some truly decent extra material. The original bare-bones release can now be replaced by two incredibly improved audio tracks as well as a new video transfer that has to be seen to be believed. Highly recommended.


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