A few days ago, 18 Cinema Lane received its 450th follower! With that achievement comes a Blog Follower Dedication Review! A few of my recent movie reviews were for films released in the 2020s. I recently saw Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel to Top Gun. Therefore, I will continue this momentum by writing about the 2022 blockbuster! While I’ve only seen pieces of Top Gun, I am familiar with its general premise. I’m also aware of how Top Gun: Maverick is the second film about the United States Navy I’ve reviewed this month. About a week ago, I wrote about the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Christmas film, USS Christmas. In that review, I said the 2020 title was a nice, pleasant film. Even though USS Christmas was fine, it wasn’t an instant classic for me or a new favorite movie. How will Top Gun: Maverick compare to the aforementioned Hallmark project? Keep reading this review if you have a need, a need to find out the answer!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Jennifer Connelly portrayed Penny, a character who was not in Top Gun. Despite being a sequel exclusive character, it felt like Penny was always meant to be in the story. The on-screen chemistry between Jennifer and Tom Cruise is an example of this statement. When Maverick visits Penny’s bar for the first time in years, he reconnects with Penny. Their interactions are friendly, a camaraderie that appears natural between them. This on-screen chemistry was consistent, which allowed Maverick and Penny’s interactions to be pleasant to watch! Speaking of Maverick, let’s talk about Tom’s performance! Since the story of Top Gun: Maverick takes place over thirty years after its predecessor, Maverick’s personality has matured in that time. However, it still contained that “prove ‘em wrong” spirit that makes him such a beloved character. In a scene where Maverick is seeking advice from Iceman, he reflects on the loss of his friend, Goose. As the past collides with the present, Maverick becomes emotional, tears quickly filling his eyes and his bottom lip quivering. This scene shows how, even though Maverick carries himself with a sense of professionalism, emotion still shines through, thanks to Tom’s strong acting abilities!
I’m not familiar with Miles Teller’s filmography or acting talents. However, I really liked his performance in Top Gun: Maverick! Miles portrayed Rooster, Goose’s son. Rooster’s involvement with the Top Gun program causes tension between Rooster and Maverick. During a disagreement between these two characters, Rooster has a lot to get off his chest. He starts yelling at Maverick, the anger felt, seen, and heard in Rooster’s voice and face. Even though Rooster’s anger is explosive in this scene, Miles displays control over his character’s emotions. He also has potential to be the lead actor in a future film!
The cinematography: Sometimes, action films can be plagued with “shaky cam”. This causes the events on screen to be indistinguishable, which can impact an audience member’s enjoyment of a movie. Fortunately, this is not the case for Top Gun: Maverick! During the scenes where characters are flying, there are many shots of them within their respective planes. There are also shots of the planes in various positions, directions, and angles. These shots are captured with a steady camera, delivered with crisp precision and clarity. One of my favorite scenes was when Maverick is racing his motorcycle alongside a plane. Showcased in a medium shot, this race contains the spirit Maverick has exuded since the first film. With a steady camera, the shot is presented from Maverick’s right side, with Maverick in the fore-ground and the plane in the background.
Including a mission: From the pieces of Top Gun I’ve seen, I recall the story heavily revolving around the training within the Top Gun program. While there is training in Top Gun: Maverick, the story prioritized an overarching mission instead. Each step of the mission is presented with the use of modern technology, such as computerized images on a television monitor. The inclusion of this mission gave the characters something to work towards. It also gave them a conflict to resolve. From an audience perspective, the mission keeps them invested in the story as it unfolds.
What I didn’t like about the film:
No inclusion of the quote, “I have a need, a need for speed”: One of the most iconic parts of Top Gun is the quote; “I have a need, a need for speed”. That quote is not only the most recognizable one from the 1986 movie, it’s one of the most famous quotes of all time. With the amount of respect given toward the predecessor in Top Gun: Maverick, I expected the aforementioned quote to be included somewhere in the 2022 film. Unfortunately, this quote was never spoken or referenced. I know this seems like a trivial flaw. But I think not including the quote is a missed opportunity.
Iceman’s fate: For this part of my review, I will spoil Top Gun: Maverick. If you have not seen this movie and plan on watching it, skip this portion and go straight to where it says “A limited distribution of character development”.
Iceman makes an appearance in Top Gun: Maverick. Even though he has become an Admiral and the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Iceman is dealing with medical related issues. These issues lead to his death around the film’s half-way point. I am aware the story needed a conflict. But having one of the “legacy” characters die felt, to me, like the film was giving mixed messages. As I already mentioned, Top Gun: Maverick was respectful toward its predecessor, emphasizing the idea of honoring the past and respecting what came before you. If this sentiment is true, then why would the movie’s creative team allow Iceman to be written out the way he was? Couldn’t Iceman be allowed to live his life as peacefully as possible? I know the Top Gun story wasn’t intended to become a franchise. However, I don’t believe Iceman should have died, especially since Goose already died in the first film.
A limited distribution of character development: When a story involves a group of people, it can, sometimes, be difficult to evenly distribute character development to every character in that group. In Top Gun: Maverick’s case, this flaw wasn’t avoided. Among the group of young lieutenants, the two that receive the most character development are Hangman and Rooster. Some of the lieutenants get a little bit of character development, while the rest don’t receive any. Besides Rooster and Hangman, I felt like I truly didn’t get to know the lieutenants, just simply became familiar with them. Like I’ve mentioned before in this review, I have only seen pieces of Top Gun. Therefore, I don’t know if this flaw was in that film. But since a part of Top Gun: Maverick’s story focuses on a team working together, I wish I had gotten to know more than just two lieutenants.
My overall impression:
During the overarching mission in Top Gun: Maverick, there are two miracles that are discussed. While I won’t be revealing these miracles, as I don’t want to spoil the film, I will be talking about the two miracles this movie produced. The first miracle is the amount of reverence and respect Top Gun: Maverick displayed for its predecessor. Creating a sequel to a beloved movie, especially after a thirty plus year time frame, is a challenging feat. I can only speak for myself, but I think Top Gun: Maverick’s creative team pulled off this feat better than expected! The second miracle is how successful Top Gun: Maverick has become since its release. In a post-pandemic cinematic landscape, having a film garner over a billion dollars has become rarer than it was a decade ago. Even if a movie does acquire that much money, it may not receive critical praise. Top Gun: Maverick not only acquired a large profit, but also achieved critical acclaim. With all that said, this movie truly pulled off the impossible. Before I end this review, I’d like to point out how this review represents a miracle. That miracle is the success of 18 Cinema Lane, which would not be possible without my blog’s followers. Therefore, I would like to thank each and every one of them!
Overall score: 8.3 out of 10
Have you seen Top Gun and/or Top Gun: Maverick? Which movie do you think deserves a sequel? Please tell me in the comment section below!
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