Friday, August 15, 2008


Top Gun

Year: 1986
Director: Tony Scott
Starring: Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerritt
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG

Top Gun is one of the most popular films ever made. It came out during the late 80's and really launched Tom Cruise's career to stardom. The film became a box office hit grossing an estimated $353 million worldwide on a small budget of only $15 million. It also broke more records when the film was first released on VHS. I've really never had the chance to see this film simply because I haven't thought about it. I mean I knew about it, but just never had the time to look it up. It was only recently that one of my friends were talking about it that caught my interest.

Plot Outline:
Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) and his best friend Goose (Anthony Edwards) are two cocky, talented pilots working in the US Navy. After they succeed in rescuing a fellow pilot who nearly died in mid-air combat, their commanding officer Stinger (James Tolkan) decides to send them to Top Gun, a top flying school that trains the best of the best of the US Navy's fighter pilots. Maverick falls for a lovely astrophysics instructor named Charlotte (Kelly McGillis) and strives to prove himself the best pilot in this demanding course. He faces both stiff competition from a fellow pilot named Iceman (Val Kilmer) as well as personal conflict dealing with the mysterious death of his father.

The story for the film is a mixed bag. The plot isn't very interesting and doesn't give you enough to know everything. The film tries to focus on its romance between the characters Maverick and Charlotte. This doesn't pay off well because theirs hardly any chemistry between them. The film is also pretty predictable and straight forward. The story doesn't do anything to help you root for any of the characters. It makes it difficult to cheer for Maverick when someone like Iceman ends up being just as good even though Maverick is the main character of the film. All of this results in you mostly not caring about the story. I couldn't care if Iceman was winning by more points or when some certain person died. All I cared about was the awesome flight scenes and If their is one thing that Top Gun does right, its this. Director Tony Scott knows how to pull off some great action scenes and he doesn't disappoint here. We get many aerial dog fights that are nicely choreographed and highly entertaining. They are so much fun to watch and some of the best I have seen even to this day.

Tom Cruise plays as Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell and he does a pretty good job here. This obviously isn't his best performance that he has given, but I kind of enjoyed him as Maverick. I thought he showed good charisma and it was fun watching him in those dog fights. Kelly McGillis plays as Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood and I wasn't impressed with her performance. She doesn't have good chemistry with Cruise and her character can be one dimensional at times. Val Kilmer plays as Lt. Tom "Iceman" Kazansky and I fairly enjoyed his work here. Like Cruise, Kilmer doesn't deliver a performance that I found to be great, but I still somewhat enjoyed his character. He makes a decent opponent opposite Cruise. We also have Anthony Edwards playing as Lt. JG Nick "Goose" Bradshaw. I enjoyed the energy he gave to his character and he was mildly entertaining.

The visual look for Top Gun is pretty good. The film was released almost 4 years ago as part of a 2 disc special collectors edition courtesy of Paramount Pictures. The films source is in pretty good shape so film grain isn't too much of a hassle. I did notice a few scratches here and their, but I think that's because of the films age rather than the disc. Colors are wonderfully vivid. They are vibrant and pretty eye popping. Black levels are nice and inky. Everything just feels natural and the way it should look. Detail is surprisingly good for a film of its age. Top Gun is about 24 years old, but the level of detail here is somewhat startling. Close up shots reveal a good amount of clarity and detail. Props to the guys at Paramount for a nicely done transfer.

The soundtrack for Top Gun is easily the most loved aspect of this film. Harold Faltermeyer composes a wonderful score that really gives this film some extra legs. Not only does it go so well with the films atmosphere, but it is also pretty exciting to hear. I will never get tired of listening to "Danger Zone" over again and again. The film also has many other music from the 80's and these too go well with the film. Top Gun also features some stunning bass work. For a 24 year old film like this, the bass is damn impressive. Dynamics are loud and the audio sequences easily hold up to some of today's films. The impact the bass makes when an F-14 Tomcat takes off is simply mind blowing. Paramount deserves another applaud for doing a fantastic job with the films soundtrack.

Top Gun isn't a great film nor is it really any good, but its so much fun. The story isn't very interesting and doesn't do a good job of explaining certain elements from its plot. The cast is pretty good with most of them putting on a show that you will somewhat enjoy. The visual look of the film features bright and vibrant colors with some good amount of detail. The soundtrack is simply great and consists of a wonderful score with a smashing bass. Its really hard not to like Top Gun simply because its very entertaining. Sure their are problems with it, but the awesomely well made flight sequences somewhat makes up for it. I think Top Gun is worth checking out if your looking for some fun. Just don't go in with high expectations because you will probably end up disappointed.

Grade: C-


The Mad Hatter said...

This was my favorite movie for a long time growing up, and still ranks as one of my top guilty pleasures.

I constantly gripe to my fiancee that a lot of the 80's favorites she tries to get me to watch (eg, WEIRD SCIENCE)don't do much for me because I didn't see them back in the day...and now they just aren't good enough to hold up.

After reading your piece, I'm thinking that TOP GUN is one of those flicks.

Great piece!

micky said...

a classic movie that i will always remember. good review farzan, you were spot on with its problems