Published on October 3rd, 2011 | by Chris1
Top Gun (1986, Blu Ray)
If, like me, you were alive in 1986, and of movie-going age, you’ve seen Top Gun. Probably several times. You probably used a few of the one-liners at some point, whether you realized it or not. It was a pivotal blockbuster of the day, and I’d even say it has become a part of our culture….
Long story short. Loose-cannon F-14 pilot Lt. Pete Mitchell, aka Maverick (Tom Cruise) and his RIO Goose (Anthony Edwards) get tapped to go to the Navy’s Fighter Weapons School at Miramar NAS, aka “Top Gun.” It no longer exists as it did then, its been combined into the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center at Fallon. Its purpose is to train fighter pilots in the finer points of air-to-air combat. Aka, “the dogfight.”
Anyway. Maverick and Goose arrive at Top Gun, and Maverick falls for one of his instructors (unknown to him at the time), “Charlie” (Kelly McGillis) in a romance guaranteed to secure the female audience. Various airborne (and ground-based, if you take my meaning, wink wink) episodes ensue. Goose is killed in an unfortunate accident, Maverick is called to real-life combat versus some Russian MIG’s in the Indian Ocean, and in the end Maverick and Charlie ride off into the sunset.
War Movie(tm)? Probably not in a strictly defined sense of the word. Watching this, though, it did remind me a lot of those WWII and Korea classics where there was a significant female love-interest role. Since there was no shooting-war to base such a classic story line in, the Cold War would have to suffice, and it does quite well. Not only that, but there’s a lot here to recall the same feelings as those old classics. The rebel-without-a-cause fighter pilot, plenty of classic cars, the smoky ready rooms and dogfight scenes…. It had been a long, long time since I’d seen this, and in this light it was almost like watching a new film. I was prepared to pan the story as just another love-story wrapped in a war movie, but I think there’s more to it than that.
It’s also curious that this movie only gained a PG rating. Given the, um, “bedroom scene” which I didn’t recall being quite so racy for a PG film, I would have expected a PG-13. Especially since it had just been adopted two years prior. But since the impetus behind that was based on violence and not other content, I guess it makes sense. Just one of those “hmmm” moments. There are, shall we say, certain other overtones that were present, that one could read into, also. Not sure if intentional or not, but definitely “pushing the envelope” for 1986 if so.
But the real stars of the movie are, of course, the aircraft. Most notably the F-14 Tomcat. Now retired from service, the Tomcat was the Navy’s workhorse until completely replaced by the F-18 only recently. If I recall, this movie did wonders for Navy recruitment at the time. (Who didn’t want to be Maverick? Even *I* had a Top Gun oak-leaf cap!!) You’ll also see quite a few A-4 Skyhawks, as well as some F-5′s dolled up to represent MIG’s. A forgivable incident, given that real MIG’s were, well, difficult to come by, and computerized special effects didn’t exist.
On to the Blu Ray release itself. Picture wise, I was really surprised to not see the grain I was expecting. Whether or not it had been “denoised” I really couldn’t tell, but the picture was crystal clear at all times. I did notice some artifacting during some “over water”, fast moving scenes, but I was looking for it. There was no “black noise” or other digital strange-ness going on at all. Surprisingly, there were still a lot of dust-and-dirt white-specks present. The specks almost lend a certain “at the movies” feel to it, though. Sure beats VHS or old NTSC cable anyway, which was probably the last time I’d seen this movie. You’ll read a lot of complaints about it being cropped, but further reading suggests that this widescreen picture is actually what would have been on the big screen, and that subsequent full-screen releases were a product of the native 35mm filming.
The audio, however, was a totally different matter. Holy crap! From the beginning, this movie has never sounded so good. Harold Faltermeyer and Kenny Loggin’s soundtrack really took on a whole new life here in 6.1. And the sounds of the aircraft and the carriers… Amazing. Just turn it up and listen to the flyby’s and afterburners….
I have to capitulate to my favorable memories of this movie, the excellent new presentation, and a healthy dose of “I love airplane flicks” and give this a 8/10. I just may pick this release up for my own shelf.
I also read that this is being prepped for a 2012 re-release, in (you guessed it) 3-D. Um, think I’ll pass on that one. Unless you can give me 1986 Kelly McGillis in 3-D, then I’ll consider it.
Top Gun [Blu-ray]
Jingoism, beefcake, military hardware, and a Giorgio Moroder rock score reign supreme over taste and logic in this Tony Scott film about a maverick trainee pilot (Tom Cruise) who can’t follow the rules at a Navy aviation training facility…
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Original Release Date:
- Tom Cruise
- Tim Robbins
- Kelly McGillis
- Val Kilmer
- Anthony Edwards
Summary: It's no Platoon or Saving Private Ryan, but Top Gun is definitely a classic, love it or hate it, and this Blu Ray release does it justice.