The reappearance of high-spirited Navy pilot Capt. Pete Mitchell in theaters sent blockbuster shockwaves around the world.
His latest adventure is translated to ultra high definition disc format, offering the icing on the cake for home theater audiences to relive the immersive cinematic experience Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, rated R, aspect ratio 1.90:1 and 2.39:1, 131 minutes, $37.99).
The mighty Tom Cruise is back as “Maverick” Mitchell, three decades in the Navy and still a Captain, embracing a story of friendship, family, loss, forgiveness and the determination to overcome incredible odds.
After destroying a test aircraft by exceeding the Mach 10 speed limit and using his G-forces, Maverick is sent back to that well-known and elite naval aviation training school in San Diego, nicknamed the Top Gun.
His punishment is to now train pilots to attack a US enemy’s illegal uranium enrichment facility, which is well-defended and takes nearly a million-in-a-rocket shot to destroy.
The caveat is that he only has three weeks to prepare the pilots as they face an impossible mission that Luke Skywalker probably couldn’t survive.
Adding to the drama is that one of the pilots in line for the mission is Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s best friend and former radar intercept co-pilot, Goose.
Throwback to the 1986 film, Goose died in a tragic training accident that has haunted Maverick ever since, even leading to him holding Rooster back early in the pilot’s career out of fear.
Suffice it to say, director Joseph Kosinski packs the film’s story with drama, memories and some unimaginable and practical aviation action.
Maverick not only sparks a romance with Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly), the former flame and current owner of the Hard Dock bar, but pays a visit to the man who has protected him throughout his career, former rival and now Admiral, Tom ” Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer), a scene that will bring tears to any fan of the original film.
Without a doubt, Top Gun: Maverick is a rare film these days, filled with a heartwarming story, the shock and awe of practical effects showcased by some amazing military aircraft, and a dose of American patriotism.
4K in use: The film’s exquisite mastering for home theaters jumps between widescreen scenes for the human drama and a full-screen IMAX presentation for all the snappy and magical aerial acrobatics.
Action cinema lovers will consistently experience a roller coaster ride of visual explosions, always focused on capturing the exploits of the F-18 fighter jets and their pilots in the cockpits and in action.
I would argue that every IMAX shot with 6K digital cameras and airplanes and even a high-speed motorbike ride is so clear and perfectly color-balanced that it’s almost three-dimensional and lifelike for anyone watching the action on a big screen.
Other moments that demand appreciation include a choppy waters cruise with Penny and Maverick, with a panoramic view of the choppy waters, and a ride in a vintage P51 Mustang as it flies into the sunset.
A Dolby Atmos soundtrack cements the action-packed deal, acoustically exploding the jets across the screen and through a home theater viewer’s entertainment space.
Best Extras: Four featurettes clearly explain why this is a unique film that could only come about with the kind of insane dedication that Mr. Cruise put into the project. Put simply, they don’t make movies like this anymore and maybe never again.
Preparing to execute and shoot a film with this level of practical aviation effects required extensive training for the actors, who had to withstand G-Force pressure while flying at Mach 8 in the F-18 fighters, and the use of purpose-built cameras to cover the shots aboard the jets.
The filmmakers even commissioned Lockheed Martin’s testing department to build a prototype jet called the Darkstar, which is shown at the beginning of the film.
Next, a 50-minute tribute to Mr. Cruise at the Cannes Film Festival has him sit down and talk about his life in the industry and his thoughts on his future and that of cinema. He’s one of the last big movie stars out there, and it’s fun to hear him happily discuss and embrace his craft.