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Top Gun: Special Edition

It's probably safe to say that no one's ever accused Jerry Bruckheimer of making a movie that was too subtle or complicated. The king of the popcorn flicks (he's produced everything from Flashdance and Bad Boys to Con Air and Coyote Ugly) has, by all evidence, never met an explosion, jet, or tight skirt he didn't like — so is it any wonder he wanted to do Top Gun (1986)? Based on a magazine article by Ehud Yonay about the Navy's elite, real-life fighter pilot school in Miramar, Calif., the tale of hotshot flyboy Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is pure cinematic fluff, a cheesy music video crossed with a jingoistic military recruitment film. And it's also a whole lot of fun. Whenever Maverick and his fellow naval aviators — chief among them Goose (Anthony Edwards), Iceman (Val Kilmer), and Viper (Tom Skerritt) — are zipping through the sky in their F-14s, dodging Darth Vader-like bad guys and tossing off one-liners, it's impossible not to get caught up in the action. Sure, their land-based interactions may be a bit clunky and predictable — Iceman and Maverick are rivals! Maverick's recklessness puts his best friend Goose in jeopardy! Maverick falls for pretty instructor Charlie (Kelly McGillis)! — but when you're munching on popcorn, you have to be prepared to choke down a few kernels. Plus, these days there's the whole nostalgia angle to wallow in (remember when Cruise had chipmunk cheeks? And Edwards had hair? And supporting player Meg Ryan was still cute?) Good, solid comfort movies are hard to come by; why begrudge Bruckheimer and director Tony Scott for making the one that helped audiences everywhere learn to appreciate the need for speed? Paramount feeds that need with a two-disc collector's edition DVD, their second release of this title. Disc One showcases the film in a solid anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with both DTS 6.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (English 2.0 Surround sound is also available, as are a French 2.0 track and English and Spanish subtitles). Features on the first platter include seven TV spots, four music videos (a word to the wise: if you don't like Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone," be sure to mute the TV while you're navigating the menu screens), and an edited-together commentary track that includes observations by Bruckheimer, Scott, co-writer Jack Epps, Jr., and a trio of naval experts). Pop in Disc Two (which boasts English, Spanish, and French subtitles) for the rest of the extras: an extensive photo gallery, "vintage" interviews and featurettes, two multi-angle storyboard sequences (with optional commentary from Scott), and the meat and potatoes of the disc, "Danger Zone: The Making of Top Gun," a thorough and engaging feature-length behind-the-scenes documentary. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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