Top Gun: Special Collector's Edition DVD Review
PictureEvery fan of this movie will be wondering - and no doubt hoping - that the picture quality has had some attention since the previous release. Sadly this isn't the case, as the movie looks every bit as old as it is. Right from the opening credits, problems are immediately apparent. Grain riddles the opening shots of the aircraft carrier crew (it really is bad), and along with frequent scratches on the print, you just know this has simply been pulled out of the archive.
The grain and scratch issues persist throughout the movie, and though certain scenes aren't as bad as others, it's an annoying problem that Paramount should really have sorted by now. Saying that however, it's not all bad news. Colour saturation is generally good, with little blooming apparent, and blacks and a general good level of detail help things along. Some of the sky shots during the dogfights look reasonably crisp, and if you can forgive the odd compression artefact in skies, then it's passable. But it could have been so much better...
SoundIf there's one reason to own this movie, then it's the soundtrack. Presented here for the first time in DTS-ES 6.1 discrete (768kbps), and of course the usual Dolby Digital 5.1 (448kbps), this is one soundtrack will which will give any surround system a good workout.
Thanks to some excellent remastering, Top Gun manages to sound much newer than both the movie itself and the video transfer would suggest. Of particular note is the LFE channel, where every fly-by of screaming jets is accompanied by a throaty deep bass rumble. It's low, it's loud, and a lot of fun. Ok, so it's probably not up there with the best of recent movies, but a good effort nonetheless.
The front soundstage is clear and detailed, with good separation where vocals are always audible, even amongst the mayhem of afterburners and “missile lock” alarms. Surrounds, too are used effectively, with frequent use to reinforce a 3-dimensional soundstage.
The DTS is a slight improvement over the Dolby Digital, sounding a little fuller and offering a slightly bigger dynamic kick to proceedings, though it's not quite as marked as I was perhaps expecting. To be honest, those without DTS aren't truly missing out on much.
Though good, overall Top Gun doesn't rank up there with the best in terms of soundtrack, but it certainly puts in a respectable performance for a movie which is nearly 20 years old.
ExtrasI usually detest commentaries (anyone else ever get the sense of the same old stuff regurgitated every time?), but I have to say the commentary by Bruckheimer, Scott and some Naval Advisors/Experts really is worth listening to. It's quite natural, with lots of interesting insights, and the fact that they readily acknowledge of the implausibility of a number of things makes it all the more palatable.
Also included on disc 1 are a selection of very dated music videos (worth it just to laugh at what some people used to think was cool), and some rather uninteresting TV spots.
Things pick up on Disc 2 with an extensive documentary split into 6 parts - “Danger Zone: The Making of Top Gun”. Running at almost an hour and half, this is excellent viewing, with comprehensive background info on how the movie came about, from the writing, the advice of the air force and all the elements behind the production and shooting. There's not a whiff of promotional guff, which makes it even more appealing.
Following the documentary are 2 multi-angle storyboard comparisons (of the usual sort), and a small selection of “vintage extras”, that features a short 5 minute “Behind the Scenes Featurette” with terrible audio, Survival Training featurette, Tom Cruise interviews (nice jumper!) and some production photography.
Overall it's not a hugely extensive list, but aside from the passable “vintage” extras, what's here is solid and interesting, and refreshingly free of promotional puff.
VerdictAn average but fun movie, with a rather poor video transfer, excellent sound and good package of extras. If you own the original release of this it may not be worth buying it again, but otherwise, what's stopping you? Enjoy a slice of 80's cheese.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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