Saturday, March 6, 2010

Top Gun Liveblog

To get in some practice for tomorrow night, I'm liveblogging the ION airing of "Top Gun." Despite being a child of the 80s, I've never seen it. Spoilers ahoy.

7:01 - Oooh. Widescreen.

7:02 - Tony Scott Directed this? Tony Scott? No wonder he's been so bitter at Ridley over the past two decades. His popularity peaked in 1986!

7:06 - Composer Harold Faltermeyer has been in the news recently for scoring "Cop Out," apparently as one of the only highlights of that movie. I will always love him for writing the "Axel F" theme from "Beverley Hills Cop."

7:10 - Saw this bit sampled in an Macross Plus AMV once.

7:15 - Anthony Edwards filled in nicely since "Revenge of the Nerds" in '84.

7:16 - "Your ego's writing checks your body can't cash" and "You're just lucky to be here" - did they come from this movie? It's hard to tell since the lines are so generic.

7:21 Michael Ironside! Kilmer with frosted tips!

7:24 - Cue the obligatory 80s bar scene. Tom Cruise is *tiny* compared to the other guys here.

7:25 - There is way too much material for a "Brokeback Mountain" parody with this scene and the earlier meaningful exchanging of glances between Maverick and Iceman.

7:26 - Bad karaoke singing trumps good karaoke singing any day for an endearing quality.

7:30 - Kelly McGillis's character would never be allowed to get away with that much clothing or that many good lines today. I like her - it's too bad IMDB says her career went nowhere after this and "Witness."

7:35 - Tom Cruise only gets away with the banter because he's just that pretty and McGillis is egging him on. I expect him to be curbstomped at any moment now.

7:37 - Is there a phone ringing in that scene?

7:38 - The dogfights aren't doing much for me, even though the cinematography is impressive and I know I'm looking at real hardware instead of CGI stand-ins. I think the problem may be that we're not with them long enough to get a real sense of what the planes are doing. It could just be the TV edit, but I doubt it.

7:42 - Oh dear. Spoke too soon. More Brokeback fodder.

7:43 - And more ringing phones. So far the beats have been very predictable and I'm not getting much out of this movie aside from nice shots of the photogenic leads. Maverick is such a typical hotshot lead with so little depth.

7:49 - "Take My Breath Away"? The soundtrack is definitely rivaling "Dirty Dancing" as far as the nostalgia factor.

7:52 - Fuzzy character moment. And here's the out-of-the-blue exposition and angsty hero motivation. Kelly McGillis is the best part of the movie so far, as she's the only character who doesn't come off as a complete action film cliche.

7:54 - A very young and squeaky Meg Ryan!

7:55 - And there's the curbstomp. Ouch.

7:57 - Cruise is being so immature it's almost adorable - they're almost swapping gender roles here. And McGillis follows him, because she's just that cool. Arrgh, I miss good female characters. Where were they all banished to?

7:58 - Of course they cut the love scene. Oh well. Hopefully when we get back from commercial the power chords will stop following us around.

8:03 - The sound design and editing is excellent here. Best dogfight scene so far.

8:07 - And we're back to Kenny Loggins. No, we didn't forget about you and the need for power to the Danger Zone.

8:10 - The crash scene's almost surreal. Did they not have the money to film the plane going down or was it cut on purpose to focus our attention on what was happening to the pilots? I'm not even sure what happened - was it a mechanical failure or was it Maverick's fault?

8:16 - Goose is dead?! Okay, I'm not alone with the confusion. Cruise doesn't know what happened either.

8:19 - This would be touching if it weren't for the overbearing Spanish guitar. I didn't know it was possible to be overbearing with a Spanish guitar!

8:21 - The electronica score's getting really intrusive now. It roots this movie so firmly in the 80s, there's no way to divorce it from the time period.

8:23 - Sundown's helmet appears to owe allegiance to the Empire of Japan.

8:24 - Maverick quits? I know something must have been cut there, because that was *way* too fast. And does the locker room have some mysterious ability to give everyone sinus trouble?

8:34 - The film has completely flatlined with the speechifying. I know they have to do it to set up the comeback, but the five-second flight strip scene pretty much did that without a word being spoken. More than anything, watching this film feels like watching "Avatar," where the formula is so obvious, you're just waiting for the film to go through the motions to get to the next effects scene. With "Top Gun," the flight sequences that are the film's big draw don't look all that great anymore - you can tell the actors aren't ever anywhere near the real planes. And of course they just sidelined the romance subplot - which is actually very decent in this film - to make way for the climax.

8:41 - Here come the fireworks.

8:45 - I was right. They never show the plane debris making impact after the hits.

8:46 - Machine-gun bullets with animated trailing streaks. Wow, the effects are dodgy. The editing is doing most of the work.

8:52 - I couldn't tell what was going on during most of that sequence. The shots are so choppy, you don't know where the planes are in relationship to each other except by following what the actors are shouting at each other. As an action sequence, it doesn't work very well at all. I don't think we saw any shots of the Migs, except through the targeting systems or when they were exploding.

8:57 - Hero's welcome. I can see why people call this an Air Force recruitment film. No complicated real-world fallout here.

"You can be my wingman anytime." Oh lord. Get a room boys!

8:59 - And now it's safe for Kelly McGillis to come back into the picture. I have to admit, this part's nicely done. I wonder if Tony Scott ever considered trying a romantic comedy or two. The genre could use him these days.

9:00 - And we're done. I feel like I've seen the film before, since it was such a big smash in the 80s and has been referenced so many times and influenced so many other pictures. Out of context, though, it's difficult to figure what was so special about this film in 1986 that made it stand out. Tom Cruise's charisma? The fighter jet action scenes? We've seen better examples of both since then, so there's not much impact left today. It is a decent action film, very slick, very easy to look at, and the performances are about as good as they can be given the material. But there's a lot less here than I was expecting, given the film's history.

And the soundtrack - I get why it was massively popular, but today the songs are so well known they actually take away from the viewing experience because they're so aggressively overplayed in the film itself. It's impossible not to roll your eyes by the fourth or fifth reprise of "Danger Zone."

This was worth a watch for the nostalgia value, for Kelly McGillis' sexiness and seeing Tom Cruise in his most iconic 80s form. But as far as entertainment value, it doesn't hold up - if it ever did at all.

1 comment:

  1. I love Top Gun!
    It might seem a little cheesy nowadays but it was the prototype for a lot of the action movies that followed and it helped to launch the career of Meg Ryan!!