Top Gun is one of my favorite movies from the 1980s, with its likable characters, outstanding action, and killer soundtrack. That doesn't mean it’s a deep, philosophical masterpieceit isn't. It's a bunch of corny dialog interspersed with intense action involving fighter jets flying at the speed of sound. In addition, the relatively unknown cast (at that time) includes some actors who would go on to distinguished Hollywood careers. Tom Cruise was already a star by this point, but Top Gun made him a superstar at the tender age of 24.
I've never thought this title has looked as good as it could on any home-video release, although the HD DVD version from last year was a marked improvement over the DVD. The Blu-ray takes it up a notch, but it is still flawed. Grain is inconsistent throughout, varying from obvious to nonexistentwithout the grain, the image looks soft and heavily filtered. Contrast and brightness are inconsistent as well, but this has plagued every home-video release I have seen, so I tend to blame the original photography.
In what I believe is a first on Blu-ray, the disc includes a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 soundtrack. Comparing the two should deliver a similar audio experience, but for some reason, that isn't the case. The DTS track has a richer sound, especially in the mid and low frequencies. It is possible that two different audio masters were used, one for 5.1 and the other for 6.1 with different EQ settings, which would explain the differences.
Both soundtracks are outstanding, with active discrete effects, wide imaging across the front, and powerful dynamicswith a slight edge to the DTS mix. Dialog intelligibility is never an issue, and it's hard to believe that a film this old can sound this good!
Unlike the HD DVD release, Paramount has included an assortment of supplements befitting an '80s classic. First up is an audio commentary with director Tony Scott, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, co-screenwriter Jack Epps, Jr., and three technical advisors from the production. Next is a nearly two-and-a-half-hour "Making of" featurette that includes interviews with Cruise, Bruckheimer, and many others. Rounding out the extras are some storyboards, four music videos from one my favorite movie soundtracks of all time, and "Inside the Real Top Gun," a 30-minute look at the Top Gun school.
Almost everyone who came of age in the 1980s recalls this film, and many remember it fondly. Recently, I have discovered that films I found entertaining in my youth have lost their appeal, but Top Gun has stood the test of time. Highly recommended!
Release Date: July 29, 2008
Film: 9 out of 10
Picture: 7 out of 10
Sound: 9 out of 10
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)
Onkyo PR-SC885 pre/pro
Wyred 4 Sound IceCube 250 x 5 Multi-channel Amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector