Top Gun: Maverick (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

After thirty years, Maverick is still pushing the envelope as a top naval aviator, but must confront ghosts of his past when he leads TOP GUN's elite graduates on a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those chosen to fly it.

November 4, 2022 10 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

“I feel the need, the need for spe- – -…”

Wait. Wrong movie. That was, like, 35+ years ago. Yes, it’s taken nearly four decades for one of the most popular movies of all-time to have a sequel. And it’s one that put someone by the name of Tom Cruise on the map. Let’s hope you like him, because he’s been a fixture of cinema since the 80’s and since he doesn’t appear to age, it’s likely he won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Top Gun, obviously, remains one of the best examples of cinema from both a home theater perspective as well as pure entertainment value. Let’s face it – it’s amazing! I never really could figure out why Kelly McGillis was cast and after seeing this film, I don’t know why Jennifer Connelly wasn’t cast in the first one (despite the whole “we don’t know who you are” stigma). But if there’s a female equivalent to Tom Cruise, I’d have to give it to her – she’s only 8 years younger but still looks pretty good for a woman over 50. Say what you want about the franchise, Tom Cruise didn’t need it but it was due to his insistence that the film be made. And it was the right call. I mean, there are movies and then there are M-O-V-I-E-S! This, in case you were wondering, is the latter. If you thought that a film that was nearly 40 years old needed a sequel starring an actor that’s (as of this writing) pushing 60 wouldn’t fly (sorry, couldn’t resist) then think again. And never underestimate the power of Tom Cruise. Ladies and gentlemen – Top Gun: Maverick.

We’ll go on the assumption that anyone reading this has seen Top Gun. If not, it’s not totally necessary but I do have to wonder the location of the cave you’ve been hiding in since 1986. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is called back into action by Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer) for a special mission. An rouge nation is ramping up production at a uranium facility nestled between two mountains. To blow it up would be dangerous and, let’s face it, virtually impossible. Maverick’s job is to train a new school of recruits to pull it off, much like himself in the predecessor. One of them is Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller) who just so happens to be the son of his former wingman. There’s a bit of tension between Rooster and Maverick as the former blames the latter for his father’s death. And then we’ve got Penny (Jennifer Connelly), a bar owner who’s an on-again/off-again lover to Maverick (if only we could all be so lucky). She provides some stability in his life if he’s willing to accept it.

This is a great movie. Oh, sorry – M-O-V-I-E! The hero from the first film becomes the mentor to a new school of recruits. And there’s a few wrenches thrown in the works, namely with Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson (Jon Hamm) who believes Maverick to be too irresponsible to complete the mission. But that’s just filler. The main draw of the film, as with the first one, are the visuals. This is made to be seen on a screen as big as you can envision. It’s grand. It’s epic. And it’s satisfying. Unfortunately we lost director Tony Scott several years ago, but his “replacement” Joe Kosinski, does a fine job of taking the reigns. Everything here is done to perfection. And it gives all of those “movies that had sequels way past their prime” something to shoot for. Simply put, there’s nothing here to dislike. Nearly every aspect of the first film is present here and it makes for a very satisfying movie-watching experience. To see a leading man approaching his “elder years” and look the part of someone half his age is just part of the fun, but most of it is the camerawork and the ultimately satisfying nature of what we all love about movies. It’s fitting that Wings was the first Best Picture winner – this is the modern day equivalent. And it’s oh-so-fun to watch.

P.S. – The iconic beach volleyball scene has been supplanted by a beach football scene. Sorry for the spoiler.

Video: How’s it look?

If you’re one of those that doesn’t like movies with shifting aspect ratios, then this might not be for you. Oh, who am I kidding – of course this is for you! Who the hell cares what the aspect ratio(s) are! The majority of the film is in a wider 2.20:1 HEVC 4K aspect ratio that really opens up the screen and maximizes the viewing area. This is great. Anyone who’s seen the original knows that the camera work with the jets/fighting, etc. is the hallmark of the movie. Bear in mind that the filmmaking was done INSIDE these jets. You can feel it. It’s so much more intimate than a CGI view of a cockpit. These guys and gals were up in the planes and it shows. And in the decades since the original, this one delivers as well. We’ve got a few new “techniques” utilized here as well, though the film does manage to make a dynamic visual impact that simply screams – 4K. Flesh tones are spot on, and are there two more beautiful representations of the human species than Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connelly? I think not. Azure blue skies abound, detail is off the charts and I found my head bobbing and weaving as if I was in the cockpit along with the crew (I wasn’t, I’d pass out if I were in their shoes). See this on the biggest screen possible. You’ll be better for it.

Audio: How’s it sound?

Considering that the original film’s audio is still highly-regarded, it comes as no surprise that the included Dolby Atmos track is second to none. Let me repeat that – this is second to none. It rocks. It rolls. It provides a dizzying experience that puts you in the cockpit and never really lets go. This is what Dolby Atmos was made for. “Whooshes” and “whirls” abound. If the visuals had your head bobbing and turning, then the audio will catapult that into the stratosphere. LFE are heavily involved. I’ve never heard a plane take off of an aircraft carrier, but after having seen this – I can safely say that it’s the next best thing (minus the probable hearing loss). Everything works. It fires on all cylinders (er…jets?) and makes for one of the most satisfying movie-watching experiences I’ve ever witnessed. Vocals, of course, are right on target. This is a pristine example of an audio track done right.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Cleared for Take Off – Essentially we see all the work that went into the training and preparation to make this one of the most, if not the most, realistic movie experience out there.
  • Breaking New Ground – We get a new perspective on the look, feel and filming of the movie. We’re introduced to new filming techniques and everything in between.
  • A Love Letter to Aviation – A love letter from Tom Cruise and his personal love for the work and dedication as to what made this what it is.
  • Forging the Darkstar – A look at the aircraft from the movie, what went into it and filming at China Lake.
  • Masterclass with Tom Cruise – Cruise and selected cast members discuss the project as well as Cruise’s filmography.
  • Music Video – “Hold My Hand” by Lady Gaga.
  • Music Video – “I Ain’t Worried” by Onerepublic.

The Bottom Line

Don’t let the fact that it’s been a few decades since we saw Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in action deter you. Don’t let the fact that this movie was delayed for a couple of years do the same. It was worth the wait. It’s quite rare, very rare in fact, that we get a sequel that supersedes the original. This is one of the rare exceptions. The audio, the video and, yes, the story are all in sync and it creates a movie-watching experience that’s literally second to none.

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