Top Gun is the quintessential 80s film, full of adrenalin action and Reagan-era rah rah. It’s Yankee Doodle filmmaking at its finest… as strangely only an Englishman could make.
Maverick and Goose are two hotshot fighter pilots that end up at the Navy’s elite training school, where Maverick meets a girl, faces tragedy and gets said girl, all while riding a rocket through some of the greatest aerial photography ever seen in a film and rockin’ to one of the most memorable soundtracks of the last 30 years. Its young cast would, more often than not, go on to wildly successful film and television careers. The film is still a video best seller today, which is why we’ve now been presented with Top Gun converted into 3D from a brand-new 4K master.
Let’s not mince words: Top Gun has something for everyone. There’s action, romance, cute girls, hot guys and volleyball, of course, but the only thing that really matters to the 3D enthusiast here are the parts of this film that hit Mach 2. Literally from the first minute, the deck of the carrier is alive like you’ve never seen it – the deck crew, the blowing steam, wind and waves all have a punch. Once we get airborne, the 3D experience is so good as to be giggle-inducing, and I don’t mean that lightly. Particularly impressive are the cockpit shots and the full-screens of Cougar’s F-14, which literally ends up with its nose sitting in your lap. Most impressive from a technical standpoint is how the heat waves on deck look very natural in the 3D space, something which had to have been a royal pain in the butt to keep them from looking like a forcefield. Flat out, this is one of the best 2D to 3D conversions I’ve ever seen, and the attention to detail is marvelous. Interiors, specifically the carrier’s CIC, exhibit an impressive sense of space. I’ve been saying for a long time (and it’s perfectly demonstrated by the recent Dredd) that the most important thing constantly forgotten about in 3D conversions are what I call “depth markers” – essentially everyday objects in the frame that we use to judge 3D space and distance. Thankfully, Top Gun 3D is luckily full of them. Nitpicks include some of the building exteriors feeling a little too “poppy” at times and some minor ghosting during Maverick’s takeoff for the climax on the tail rudders and landing gear, but nothing that’s going to make you blink twice. For Top Gun, 3D is not a gimmick – it’s the cherry on top of an already delicious cake and it’s a real natural fit with the film, so much so that I’m actually re-assessing how good future conversions like Jurassic Park might be.
The audio tracks are the same as the 2D Blu-ray, including the original theatrical 6-track mix in Dolby TrueHD and the near-field home theater mix in DTS-HD Master Audio. My personal preference goes to the latter, not because it’s DTS, but because it’s designed for viewing in a space smaller than an airplane hangar.
It’s a shame there’s no documentary on the 3D conversion here, but the disc ships with the original 2-disc 2D Blu-ray and its extras included (sorry, this is the same disc as before, encoded from the old master) so that’s not a tragedy. We’ve already talked about Charlie de Lauzirika’s great documentary in the past, and if that isn’t the final word on the film I don’t know what is. Also included is an UltraViolet digital copy for those who find them useful.
It’s strange to me that Top Gun was Tony Scott’s first big movie… and also his last. He finished supervising Top Gun 3D shortly before his death last fall, so this is his last work to reach the big screen. Thankfully, this 3D conversion embodies and enhances his work and everything that made Tony Scott one of our most dynamic filmmakers. It’s a fully worthwhile upgrade for any fan of the film. I’d never seen Top Gun on the big screen before an IMAX screening last week, and to see the movie he’ll probably be most remembered for shining like a brand new penny on the biggest screen in the industry is a fitting tribute to a man who never settled for small.
– Jeff Kleist