I am not that much of a movie person, and when there is a movie I want to see I want to see it in a theater. If I don’t watch it when it’s in the theater there’s a good chance I will never watch it save for the times my husband forces me to. Obviously I’ve watched a lot more movies at home in the last couple of years because of the pandemic because I had no choice for the films I really did want to see, but I’d still rather go to the actual movie theater to watch them.
I have been waiting to watch Top Gun: Maverick for literally almost three years. I looked it up and on July 18, 2019 along with the first trailer they released I posted, “I kind of hate myself for succumbing to the nostalgia bait of this, but I really do feel the need for speed next summer.” I do hate that Hollywood is all sequels and reboots now, and I know that I’m just contributing to the problem by watching them. If no one watched them they would stop making them. Also, like many people I think Tom Cruise is kind of problematic. However, everything about the trailer for this movie made me immediately want to see it.
I love Top Gun. I saw it in the theater as a little kid only because my parents went away for the weekend and left us with some babysitter, who I’m guessing was in college or maybe her early 20s. I don’t recall that I ever saw her before or after this weekend. At any rate, it was the weekend that the original Top Gun was released and she took my sister and I and met up with a friend to see it. I don’t think my parents ever would have taken us to it. I was only 8 when it came out, so I’m not sure why I would have liked it that much, but I did. We also had a copy of it on VHS eventually, so I watched it a bunch more times that way plus you know whenever it would show up on TV. So let’s just say I’ve seen that movie A LOT.
Thus, my extreme excitement to see this sequel despite myself. I was annoyed that they kept pushing back the release date so that COVID would hopefully be more under control and people would go see it in the theater. Now I’m glad they did. I drew a line in the sand at some point and told my husband that this was going to be my first movie back in a theater. I also said that thinking delusionally that we would get a bit of a reprieve from COVID this summer like we did last summer. Instead I literally went to see the movie on the day the CDC announced that Baltimore was back in their high risk category according to their new rating system, so you know that pretty much means everyone has COVID. If you know me or have been reading this blog you know that I am still super cautious and don’t do much indoors, so this was a big step for me. I took the day off work so I could go to the first showing of the day. I also went to the Senator Theater, which is a big old historic movie house that was originally one screen, though they’ve added additional screens in the past decade. It seats something like 675 people. It’s a huge space with really tall ceilings. There were maybe 25 people in the theater. I sat near no one, and I had an N95 mask on the whole time. I feel like I was pretty safe. If I can’t do that without catching COVID there’s literally no hope I can ever do anything.
One last thing before I get to my thoughts on the actual movie. While we were happily in the theater watching the movie there was apparently a tornado warning in Baltimore City which we were oblivious to. Luckily no tornados killed us. The strong storms blowing through did manage to make the power blip enough to shut down all the equipment in the theater and it took them 10-15 minutes to figure out how to get everything working again. Then when they started it back we got to rewatch about 10 minutes of the movie. I’m just happy they got it working again and I didn’t have to figure out how to come back and see the rest of it another time cause I have had that happen to me before.
Now for my actual review of the movie. It will be pretty spoiler free other than tipping you off that there are a lot of callbacks to the original. If you don’t want to know what those are then stop reading now, but honestly they’re what you would expect. First of all I will say that I am 100% glad that I saw this movie in a theater. They were right to hold it. It was apparently shot in IMAX and if you have a chance to see it in IMAX I would do that. It would never have been the same watching it on my couch. You needed the big screen and the sound system that made your body vibrate with the jet engines to get the full experience.
This has been talked about a lot in relation to this film, but it is was really great to see a movie that is not just all CGI. The practical effects were incredible. It’s just a really gorgeous movie to watch with a lot of good action. They showed a little clip of Tom Cruise before the film thanking us for coming to actually see the movie in a theater and talking about how this is good old school movie (not his words) that relies on practical effects and not CGI. Tom Cruise wants to bring you back to the glory days of cinema y’all. Anyway, my big takeaway from that little bit was that Tom Cruise has in fact actually aged. He looked old in that. But then the movie started and he still only looked 30 in it.
The movie hits nostalgia in all the right ways, but it’s also something that is not relying on it. You could definitely go into this movie having never seen the original Top Gun and be totally entertained and not feel like the only reason it exists was for people looking for a nostalgia hit. Obviously if you do know and love Top Gun then all the things it’s calling back to will make it mean more to you. They really played into it at the get go with literally the same opening statement about what Top Gun is that starts the original movie. Like for a second I almost thought they accidentally played the wrong thing. The music at the beginning was the same. That kind of gong sound that opens it just gave me chills. And then we get a bunch of jet and aircraft carrier footage set to “Highway to the Danger Zone”. I’m not going to lie I teared up a little. Obviously that was not completely about the movie itself and more about well everything, but this movie is going to dig into your nostalgia feels right away. There was obviously the obligatory “volleyball” scene because they understood the assignment. They even had someone who was not in the original film but had the same voice timbre who was the character who gave all the missiony sort of information and talked about what Top Gun is and announced. It was perfect.
I know they never even asked Kelly McGillis to reprise her role as Charlie. I don’t know what’s up with that, and I feel like nothing good, but Jennifer Connelly was a decent stand in for Maverick’s love interest. It did feel a little weird to me that instead of a new love interest she was someone from his past that he rekindled a relationship with just like he would have done if they did invite Kelly McGillis back, but whatever.
Obviously it was the perfect storyline to have Goose’s son be one of the new pilots. It gave some weight to the story, and it all felt true to where these characters would be in their lives at this point. I’m also really happy they found a way to bring Val Kilmer back as Iceman despite everything that’s happened to him.
All in all it was a great old school summer blockbuster movie. If it’s something you’re ever inclined to see I definitely encourage you to throw on a mask and see it while it’s in theaters. It definitely won’t be the same experience from your couch.