PHOTO BY Top Gun Movie

Top Gun Maverick: a 36 Year Legacy

Culture

Top Gun Maverick has officially been out for a little over a month, and it should come to streaming platforms soon. The film follows its predecessor 36 years after its release. It separates itself from its sequel peers by being a critically acclaimed, fan-favorite sequel, rather than a lackluster follow-up. Aided greatly by new technology, Top Gun Maverick is a peak example of the new way of cinematography. Filled with heart-wrenching scenes, Top Gun Maverick lives up to and perhaps surpasses the original Top Gun.

The Original Top Gun

The original film, Top Gun, came out in the late spring of 1986. It provided society with the perfect summer movie, with equal parts romance, action, comedy, and drama. A perfect film for any viewer. It follows Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) and Nick "Goose" Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) on their journey to Top Gun, the naval aviation school for the best pilots in America. They join the Top Gun class, accompanied by a formidable rival, Tom "Iceman" Kazansky (Val Kilmer). Maverick and Goose fly through exercises, usually to the iconic Kenny Loggins song, Danger Zone. Maverick also finds a new lover in Charlotte (Kelly McGillis), and also a new theme song, Take My Breath Away. A tragic event occurs, leaving Maverick in anguish, and struggling to accept his grief. Finally, Iceman and Maverick encounter a real threat that threatens their safety but makes it out alive. The film has embroidered itself into film history as one of the best action films ever. You don't exactly need to watch it before you see the new film, since it fills in the blanks for you. However, the original Top Gun is a great feature to add to your collection of action films.

Top Gun Maverick

Directed by John Kosinski, Top Gun Maverick follows its namesake, Maverick, in his task of teaching younger pilots how to win a dog fight successfully. These new pilots are called back to North Island, in order to complete a mission that seems impossible. Viewers are graced with brand new characters that add to the legacy of the films, rather than take away from them. Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (Miles Teller), Jake "Hangman" Seresin (Glen Powell), Natasha "Phoenix" Trace (Monica Barbaro), Robert "Bob" Floyd (Lewis Pullman), Rueben "Payback" Fitch (Jay Ellis), Mickey "Fanboy" Garcia (Danny Ramirez), Javy "Coyote" Machado (Greg Tarzan Davis), and Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly) just to name a few. Each character adds a diverse aspect to the film that wasn't seen in the first one.

The production of the film began in 2017, and filming began in 2018. It's now 2022, 4 years after filming began, and audiences finally get to see the second coming of the iconic 80s film. It was worth the wait. Of course, Tom Cruise did all of his stunts, setting a new standard for movie stars today. The F-18 plane scenes were actually performed by real navy aviators, who aided greatly in the making of the film. To create flying scenes with the actors, a camera was specially made in order to mount on a jet to achieve footage. Navy aviators flew the F-18, while the actors accompanied them in the back seats to act out their scenes. The filming process was extremely difficult and required perfection in order to make the film. The director and producer, John Kosinski and Jerry Bruckheimer achieved just that. But they didn't do it alone. Tom Cruise was heavily a part of the casting process, and he was able to see the talent in the many actors cast for the film. In order to prepare for their roles, Tom Cruise created a training program to be completed, inspired by the Navy. Cast members had to go through grueling water exercises, along with jet exercises that resulted in instances of motion sickness. The sacrifice the cast and crew gave for this film is immense, and it definitely pays off with the final project of the film.

When I first watched the film, it was surreal to imagine the actors going through the flight simulations, pulling real Gs, and flying at vast speeds. It only made me admire the whole production crew and everyone who contributed to this film. Top Gun Maverick is a true blockbuster, with so much energy put into it, and receiving lots of love.

Of course, reminders of the first film reside in Top Gun Maverick. The first is archive footage and pictures of Goose, along with Iceman's appearance. Miles Teller delivers an amazing performance of Great Balls of Fire inspired by the iconic scene in Top Gun. Glen Powell and Miles Teller also reflect a Maverick-Iceman-like rivalry from its predecessor. Finally, Maverick gets another chance at love with Penny Benjamin, a headstrong new character faced by the talented Jennifer Connelly.

Along with the glimpses of the parent film, the new film offers fresh factors as well. A more diverse cast is at the forefront of this. Firstly, with more ethnic diversity. The cast comes from all different backgrounds, and are able to portray characters that we didn't see in the first one. Also, in the male-dominated aviation world, we get to see more female aviators in Top Gun Maverick. Monica Barbaro gives us a capable character that differs from the first film as well.

The release date of the film was originally in 2019. However, it kept being pushed back due to the increased danger of the pandemic. Now, 3 years after the first release date, audiences are able to experience a true cinematic feature. The sounds of the planes, the visuals of the flights, and the raw emotion of the film are fully on display in the theaters.

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Go watch it!

Top Gun Maverick is most likely in a theater near you! It has been streaming for over a month, and hopefully will be until the end of September. So, seize the opportunity to watch one of the best films of the year!

Ayla Miller
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Ayla is a current high schooler with an affinity for all things expressive. You can find her reading, writing, and rewatching Top Gun.