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Paramount Home Video presents
Top Gun HD-DVD (1986)

"Right now you're more dangerous than the enemy."
- Iceman (Val Kilmer)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: October 01, 2007

Stars: Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, val Kilmer
Other Stars: Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerrit, Michael Ironside, Tim Robbins, Meg Ryan
Director: Tony Scott

MPAA Rating: PG for (language, sensuality, thematic material)
Run Time: 01h:49m:32s
Release Date: October 02, 2007
UPC: 097361305547
Genre: action

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

DVD Review

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 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: This disc marks the first really serious disappointment from Paramount. While there's plenty of detail and vivid color, as well as nice shadow detail, there's a dismaying amount of edge enhancement slapped onto the transfer, resulting in heavy ringing throughout much of the movie (it's very distracting at 39m:44s, for instance, on Cruise's face). The photography, especially at night, is quite grainy, but it comes across filmlike and not particularly ridden with sparkles, so in that respect it looks pretty good. There was no need for so much EE, which makes one wonder what Paramount was thinking. One does, however, get a good look at Cruise's unibrow.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, French, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The listener can take the pick of a TrueHD, 6.1 DTS, or a 5.1 DD+ English track, but they're all knockouts, starting from the soundtrack, with plenty of classics. The LFE is constantly engaged in the flight sequences, and it's a loud, impressive track from beginning to end. There's no particular hiss or extraneous noise audible. There may not be a lot to recommend this disc, but if you're after an audio showpiece, you've come to the right place.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Animated menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
Packaging: Elite
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Other than scene selection (with too few scenes) and subtitles, there are no extras.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

As action romances go, they don't come much bigger and dumber. The HD transfer is fairly disappointing in its reliance on edge enhancement, but the audio is a knockout. Not an extra to be seen.


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