From the Archives: First ‘Top Gun’ movie premiered in San Diego 36 years ago

Top Gun: Maverick premiered in San Diego this week, almost 36 years after the premiere of “Top Gun” at Mann’s Cinema 21 in Mission Valley.

From The Tribune, Friday, May 16, 1986:


The action of the film is equivalent to its hype

By Bill Hagen, Tribune Film / Theater Critic

When a movie is pushed as hard before the general release as “Top Gun”, two possibilities come to mind: Is it a movie in trouble or is it a movie with monstrous success.

Well, the only predictable problem for “Top Gun” involves accountants and accountants, who are likely to run out of some calculators that keep up with the cash flow. And that does not even count the sale of Tom Cruise posters. This is going to be a big, big movie, as it’s right.

“Top Gun”, most of which was shot at Miramar Naval Air Station, is an action movie that explodes on the screen at about 2 Mach, relaxing on the throttle to work in a slightly romantic way. raises the spirits again for a thrilling showdown with the best aerial sequences on this side of the battle shots.

“Top Gun” is what Navy pilots call it, with a trace of awe from a team that does not easily awe, the famous Miramar Fighters’ School, a school that accepts only the top 1 percent of these pilots, better than the best. And it is at this school that Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise) and his radar interception officer, Lieutenant Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) are appointed after a painful, heroic but foolish encounter with a Soviet fighter. . in the Indian Ocean, an encounter that tests the wills but stops before the battle.

Producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer stand in front of the movie poster at the premiere of the West Coast premiere of “Top Gun” at Mann’s Cinema 21 in Mission Valley on May 15, 1986.

(Archive photo of Bob Redding / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The screenplay by Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr. fits a formula, but a very successful formula, like an airborne “Rocky” in the speed of sound. Much of the film is devoted to Top Gun training, and much of that training is summed up in a top-notch competition between Maverick and an equally hot pilot named Iceman (Val Kilmer), a competition that includes even more exciting, choreographed aerial shots. . for which director Tony Scott impressively puts the audience in the cockpit.

These pilots are young men who constantly live on the edge, attacking life. They play as hard as they work, with the same determination, the same tough competitiveness, the same arrogance. They are so confident, even their hair seems to be shaking.

And no one works or plays harder than Maverick, a pilot with great instincts but a little discipline, who, upon arriving at Miramar, which he considers a “goal-rich environment”, nullifies a very attractive woman who looks at a bar. But the woman, who is an astrophysicist named Charlotte (Kelly McGillis) and trainer in Top Gun, breaks down Maverick’s unusual but vulgar pass. For a while.

Romance is an integral part of the story, and it is handled with fire and fun by Cruise and McGillis, but even in its hottest part it still seems almost like a diversion. This is the exciting rhythm that director Scott has established for his film, right from the wonderful opening scene.

There are other diversions, some of which are almost inseparable, such as Maverick’s mysterious past involving a father fighter pilot who went missing in Southeast Asia 20 years earlier under suspicious circumstances. The writers and the director try to push the story a little too much, often just to express unnecessary sympathy for the bold, daring central character. It’s fine as it is. There is also the required confidence crisis, which does not exactly fit the character.

And then there is the music of Harold Faltermayer, very effective in creating action scenes, but which, unfortunately, breaks the barrier of sound as regularly and often as the pilots.

But these are just conversations. “Top Gun” is one of the best and most exciting action movies of all time, with special faith in Jeffrey Kimball, director of photography, and Gary Gutierrez, supervisor of special effects.

“Top Gun” is the movie that is going to make Cruz a really big star, not to mention a global sex object. Fits Maverick perfectly, handsome and daring to inspire fumes from women, brave and tough enough to inspire awe in men. It’s an unbeatable combination, and as if that weren’t enough, Cruz also has plenty of boyish charm, which makes him likeable to both sexes. And, he is a very talented actor with an excellent presence on screen. Poor guy. What a sad future.

McGillis, as wonderful as Amish’s mother in “Witness,” changes pace very well as the all-modern Charlotte, a woman on the way up, who can well describe McGillis as an actress.

Kilmer is very effective as Cruz’s opponent, at least in the skies, and Edwards is just as good as Cruz’s fun but more equal friend who at least knows when to be scared.

Tom Skerritt contributes another solid job as commander of Top Gun, perhaps the best he has proven in school. Michael Iron’s sides add silent power as Scherit’s executive officer, and cigar-dropping James Tolkan is credited as the squad leader.

The technical contributions are uniformly excellent.

“Top Gun” starts with a roar and never relaxes for long. It’s a dynamite film.

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