Back around the time I was born, and Tom Cruise had an ounce of sanity, a little movie called Top Gun swept across the globe raking in over $350,000,000 worldwide, as well as sparking an interest in the US Navy and everything Tomcat, Skyhawk, and MiG related. Ever since its original release Top Gun has kept a hold on its audience, being played almost weekly, and now it makes its way into the world of high definition with its release on HD DVD.
For the few of you out there who don’t know, Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible) plays Pete Mitchell better known to the rest of us as Maverick. He’s young, cocky, and he pilots an F-14 Tomcat. His wingman Goose (Anthony Edwards, Zodiac) keeps him in check with a cool head, and is the more cautious of the two. After another pilot turns in his wings the two are given the opportunity to join the Top Gun fighter pilot school in which only the top 1% of fighter pilots are invited. Upon getting into the school Maverick believes himself to be the best there and borders on the line of being reckless, creating an enemy of fellow pilot Iceman (Val Kilmer, Heat). As the movie plays out Maverick falls in love, contemplates his lifestyle, looses people close to him, and faces death well trying to make it through the training. The movie pretty much wraps up in typical Hollywood style with a bow on it, but still manages to be a good watch.
Back when Top Gun was released there is no doubt that it was a state of the art look into jets and provided some realistic special effects with a decent story. Since then there’s been a million and one movies that have looked nicer, but there’s something about Top Gun that keeps it at the top of the aircraft genre. It could be the great cast, or its originality but at any rate this film is a good watch if you want to see a movie about fighter pilots. At the same time it’s not a masterpiece that’s going to captivate anyone and everyone, but if you think this type of story is going to appeal to you, you’re going to love its results on HD DVD.
Presented in 1080p 2.35:1 aspect ratio and encoded in MPEG4, Top Gun is how older catalogue movies should look on HD DVD. Right from the start you can tell Top Gun was not rushed out the gate. Flesh tones look realistic and blacks look crisp. The image it self can look 3D at times, providing a surprising amount of depth in some shots. As good as Top Gun does look, it is not without its share of problems. The print although in fairly good shape does contain speckling and grain. Softness does occur throughout the movie, but compared to other releases from this era the frequency is quite low.
The good definitely outweigh the bad and if you are a fan of Top Gun in any way then you must check this one out, as it will likely not look any better than this for awhile.
Top Gun is equipped with a 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus, a 6.1 DTS ES and a 5.1 TrueHD, all of which sound great. The fact that Paramount is starting to include HD tracks with their releases gets me excited. Fortunately the TrueHD track does improve on what the 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus and even the 6.1 DTS tracks provides. The roaring sound effects sound terrific, providing terrific bass and rear channel atmosphere. Had I been blindfolded and sat down in front of this movie there would be no way I could tell that this movie is over 20 years old.
Back in the 80’s this soundtrack was the talk of the town, luckily Danger Zone is still as catchy and sounds great on this track. Sound balancing between the dialogue, effects and soundtrack was near perfect, with only a few minor adjustments throughout.
Some may disagree with the high audio score I’m giving this, but when taken into consideration its age and large improvement over its prior track I think it’s well deserved.
Not a single feature included in this package a big disappointment from Paramount.
The movie itself isn’t going to knock your socks off, but at the time it came out, it probably would have. It still holds a lot of its momentum and that alone gets a favorable rating from me. The inclusion of a handful of great actors in smaller roles including Tim Robbins, Meg Ryan, Michael Ironside, and John Stockwell only adds to the movies credibility. In the end Top Gun hits HD DVD with some impressive results, looking and sounding like anything but an 80’s movie. Despite the lack of features, fans of the film should still check this one out as it provides a tremendous upgrade in the audio/video department.