'Top Gun' Blu-ray Review: Reagan-Era Blockbuster Backs Up Bluster

'Top Gun' Blu-ray Review: Reagan-Era Blockbuster Backs Up Bluster

Is it any wonder Tom Cruise became a superstar by playing a cocky fighter pilot at the peak of the Reagan ’80s? The Blu-ray release of Top Gun reminds us of why Cruise ascended to A-list status and that the era’s muscular brand of moviemaking still matters.

Can anyone imagine a film like Top Gun emerging from today’s Hollywood? Heck, Cruise looks remarkably youthful for 50, but re-casting him in such a role is besides the point. Top Gun embraced a pro-military, cocksure pose that electrified audiences at the time.

Today, we’d have to make sure Cruise’s character considers the ramification of his pro-military maneuvers and understand why those Russian planes were acting so with so much hostility. Heck, a remake might squeeze in some clunky Occupy Wall Street rhetoric about the haves and have nots.

Back in 1986 none of that mattered, something the new Blu-ray release announces with every high-def sequence (or 3D moment, for those ponying up for the 3D edition).

Cruise stars as Maverick, a brash pilot enrolled in the Navy’s Top Gun elite competition. His biggest threats to air supremacy are Iceman (Val Kilmer, needing nothing more than a killer smile) and Maverick’s feelings for a beautiful instructor named Charlie (Kelly McGillis) who resists his charms – at first.

Before you can cry, “cue up the sappy power ballads,” Maverick and Charlie are canoodling in MTV-friendly montages while while we wait for Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone to reboot.

Top Gun offers electric flying sequences from an era which couldn’t rely on computer trickery and a story that demands all the star power Cruise can muster. The third act’s drama feels underwhelming now is it did then, but the plight of poor Goose (Anthony Edwards) remains similarly unaffected by time.

The Blu-ray extras include an exhaustive six-part Danger Zone: The Making of Top Gun documentary series along with a loaded commentary track featuring key behind-the-scenes players – sans Cruise.

The documentary portion tells us producer Jerry Bruckheimer first learned about the Top Gun program from a magazine article, and the film’s first screening was an unmitigated disaster. Some furious editing followed, and a box office sensation eventually emerged.

The film’s impact on the stars’ careers was obvious, but the film also caused Navy recruitment desks to pop up outside movie theaters.

Other features include a look at the film’s popular soundtrack, multi-angle storyboards and Best of the Best: Inside the Real Top Gun feature.