Let’s Get Reel: Top Gun: Maverick

30-plus years in the making, and delayed a couple more for a pandemic, Top Gun: Maverick finally hit the theatres last week. The early reviews have been very good. A 97 on Rotten Tomatoes (with a 99% audience score). A 78 on Metacritic, which is as good as a pop movie is going to get on that site.

And it also gets the Official Weezel Seal of Approval. High praise indeed.

Now then. This was admittedly more fun than great. I am Mr. “Nostalgia Doesn’t Make It Great”, typically. But man was this nostalgia fun. Yes, Maverick was basically a shot-for-plot remake of the original. Line callbacks, story structure, etc.

But, Maverick actually reminded me of a book I read a few years back on music. In it, they examined music from a scientific method and why we like the music we do. Largely, they hypothesized that pop music is, well, pop music because it largely plays the notes you expect the song to play. It fits our expectations of what should come next. Meeting expectations decreases anxiety, and pop music is the audible version of that chemical reaction. It’s the reason avante-garde jazz isn’t bigger.

Top Gun: Maverick is the movie version of pop music. It hits all the notes you expect it to hit, when you expect them. If they tasked a random person to plot a basic story structure for a reboot, it would look a lot like this movie. But, it hits the notes right when we expect them too, and it makes the movie infinitely enjoyable for those of us who have seen Top Gun dozens and dozens of times, even those who acknowledge its limitations.

Tidbits

I appreciated the inclusion of Don Simpson in the opening Bruckheimer/Simpson credits. Don Simpson passed away in 1996 and it was a subtle nod to one-half of a powerhouse duo.

Miles Teller pulls off the Goose’s kid thing really well, actually.

Yes, there is a shirtless beach sport scene. Yes, shirtless Tom Cruise still looks like he belongs on that beach. Jerk.

There has been some backlash for not including Kelly McGinnis, and going with the time-honored tradition in Hollywood of casting a woman younger than the leading man. Jennifer Connelly is eight years younger than Cruise. I actually thought she was younger until looking it up just now. I get the backlash, but I also appreciated building a plot line around a throw-away line from the first movie. That was one of those subtle notes.

“Talk to me dad.” Both corny and perfect. And an apt microcosm for the movie.

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