Top Gun: Special Collector’s Edition

January 28, 2012 11 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

There was something that as a kid this viewer witnessed growing up in that decade known as the eighties. Any of us that were born in the latter half of the last decade were introduced to a new form of _expression called the music video. That was a fascination that was used as a great tool to promote a song, tell a story, plug a film or represent a catchy song. The audience can tell the times had grown from watching how these videos were done. One such film that had an abundance of music videos to promote the film successfully came in the mid-80s and had a tale of action competition and struggle over the wild blue yonder of the skies and the striving to be the best. This is the action done to pulse pounding anthems, these take you on the mighty wings from low groundsman to Top Gun.

On an aircraft carrier somewhere in the mediterranean, two jets fly off to investigate some MIG activity. Their contact is minor but in one such case, the smallest of close call contact results in one of the pilot’s acceleration of stress amongst the skies. His wingman under the call sign of “Maverick” (Tom Cruise) along with his RIO “Goose” (Anthony Edwards) go against appropriations to save his wingman. The bad news is that his wingman, “Cougar” (John Stockwell), represented the best of the fighter pilots. This one little close call hit so hard that he gives up flying for good. Outraged, his superior has no choice but to elect Maverick and Goose to go up against the best fighter pilots sending them off to Miramar, California to Top Gun, a fighter pilot academy where a chosen few are selected and learning and flying are combined. Although Maverick and Goose are in the ride of their lives in more ways than one once they’ve entered.

This is the second film of director Tony Scott and it’s a helluva entertaining one. For some mysterious reason, this viewer used to watch this film once a year at one of his relatives house and it seemed like every viewing was a better experience than the first and this is still the case with this film. The aerial sequences are vast, the level of dilemma is high and the result is highly entertaining and no director can shoot it better than Tony Scott.

The ground story is an ok and routine and gets into the heart of the matter later on but once it takes the skies the film takes off without a hitch and the final third of this film is non stop excitement. The cast all around went on to bigger and better things after the release of this film as you’ll note from Merlin to another RIO later in the film. Scott defined this film as “rock and rollers in the skies”. I imagined an interesting film in the past if that were taken in a literal sense and had Elvis, Chuck Berry, a few of the Beach Boys and Ricky Nelson.

This was Tom Cruise’s first megahit after mega notice and here he brings the cocky presence as Maverick doing whatever it takes to be the best even if it means breaking the rules. Cruise is given solid support from post Revenge of the Nerds Anthony Edwards as well as post Top Secret Val Kilmer. All of them combined team up for respectful competition, excellence in flight and a pulse pounding memorable anthem by Harold Faltermeyer (which always excites this viewer as it plays along the studio logo) all combine for one solid picture. Top Gun takes this viewer onto the mighty wings to the heights of solid entertainment without faltering.

Video: How does it look?

This is the second release for this film on DVD and finally the studio got the framing of this film right as Top Gun is seen for the first time in the 2.40:1 Super 35 anamorphic widescreen look and the results are amazing. Although a speck or two is evident in the first third of the film, the overall visual quality is constant, clean and sharp as the film gets a more cinematic look thanks to it’s proper ratio. The brightest of colors pop out better, the skies look bluer and the overall impact doesn’t suffer from too much color bleeding. This is the best the film has ever looked. A very solid transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

One person on the commentary noted that this film should’ve swept the Sound category and by that estimation, he was right and it’s well demonstrated on the DVD. The Dolby Digital 5.1 balances the jet effects, sweeping and the score very nicely along with the dialogue running through all channels. The grounded interior scenes are quiet with dialogue and effects while the aerial scenes test the sound system to it’s literal barriers and nothing sounds sweeter than the sweeping of a flyby on the surrounds. A very solid track. This disc also has a DTS track, an English and a French Dolby Surround as well as English and Spanish subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This edition of Top Gun is expanded widely thanks to the healthy hunk of extras starting off with Disc 1. There is a running combined commentary with director Tony Scott, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and some naval experts that served as technical advisors. Both Scott and Bruckheimer are good but the advisors steal the show with their comparison of what is possible and what is not possible combined with the overall enjoyment of the film without gushing all over it. Overall, a very good combined commentary.

There is also a Vintage Gallery complete with seven TV Spots and 4 music videos that incorporate clips from the film as well as set themselves in their own flighty environment. Seeing these brought this viewer back to the days when the only enjoyment of videos was either at an uncle’s house that had required cable out of state or on Friday Night on channel 4 after midnight. Admittedly, they are less than spectacular but a great addition because of that and the fun of the videos as some of today’s lack in consistancy or the element of amusement.

All of these are full frame

This is all fun and it only continues on Disc 2 where there is the superb anamorphic in 1.85:1 documentary “Danger Zone: The Making of Top Gun” that covers six aspects of the film in extensive length.

From The Ground Up covers the preparation in pre-production of getting the project off the ground, Playing With the Boys showed how the wheels got in motion in terms of filming and casting, The Need For Speed covers the aerial filming to achieve the visual look of the film from the high skies, Back to Basics shows a more technical sense as to how the visual effects of the film were accomplished and Combat Rock covers the music area which the film dominated in and wonderfully so. The results of all that are documented in the final part Afterburn with reactions from most players. Despite the lack of a few hoped for cast members and their two cents, all together this is a fabulous piece of work put together nicely by Charles De Lauzirika getting some great insight documented. Even though some of the info is repeated from the commentary, it’s the flow of the documentary that doesn’t ponder redundancy but keep the piece moving very nicely and all players give great information into the making of this film. (What, no Nintendo?)

All of the parts can be seen using the “Play All” function

Next there are 2 scenes that can be viewed with some multi-angle storyboards on how the scenes were visualized before and after. This is a cool piece and can be viewed with commentary from director Tony Scott.

Finally, there is another Vintage Gallery filled with a Behind The Scenes, Survival Training and Tom Cruise Interviews all from the time the film was made and they are amusing as well as entertaining.

There is also a photo gallery of the production as well.

Combined with solid extras and the best transfer of this film, Paramount has gone all out for the Top Gun: Special Collector’s Edition and have succeeded in making a very good 2 disc effort that is in good company as one of the best 2 discs of the year and worthy of being part of any good DVD collection as it comes very well recommended. Fire up the jets and hold on as you will be taken for a ride in that raging fire in the heart known as Top Gun!

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