Top Gun: Maverick: I rewatched Top Gun last week in preparation for this weekend’s premier of Top Gun Maverick. I had made a conscious effort to not watch the trailers, knowing very well that this was ready for release in the summer of 2020. Then Covid-19 had other ideas. So this has been in the can for two years waiting for the week before US Memorial Day. My thought process before going was “I hope that this doesn’t suck”. At the same time, any movie which has modern military jet aircraft (F-18s, F-22s etc) and blowing up things “real good” is a movie that will be potentially a lot of fun.
The lights dim, and after the previews finish (notably Tom has been busy and the latest Mission Impossible is coming in July 2023), I am ready. On becomes the music of Harold Faltemeyer once again with the opening paragraphs about the Navy beginning which started the original Top Gun, and seeing some aircraft moving around the deck of an aircraft carrier and being launched and then Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone”. I am engaged. My foot starts tapping to the music as the images flash across the screen.
Cutting to the chase, this movie is fun! It is energizing, the visuals are stunning and the story is compelling. We care about the people involved. This is a movie to be seen in the biggest theatre that you can find. For me, it was IMAX. There are ties to the original film, both with characters, but also in carrying on the plot. Some of these are expected and others are not. This is a good thing.
In short, Maverick is still a Captain. Those in power (the generals and admirals) tell him quite plainly that he should be at their level by now. They don’t understand what motivates him, but they recognize his talent as an aviator. It seems that there is a very dangerous mission in which the Navy needs the best of the best pilots from Top Gun to train. Maverick is asked to step in and work to teach these young pilots. There is an additional wrinkle with one of these pilots. This becomes one of the main plot lines. Then there is the mission and the aftermath. Things happen. Are they all believable? Ah, hell no! But the audience needs to set this aside. But that’s the point. Will the ending come as a surprise to anyone? I doubt it. There were moments when I thought I knew where the plot was going, and I wasn’t always right. The writing was good and takes into account some of the challenges that the original film encountered. They wisely stayed away from a competition amongst the Top Gun class for a fictional trophy. They also kept the focus on the mission as opposed to who was romantically connected to another member of the team. The visuals in many cases are unreal. I like that you can see pilots in the seats and hear their breathing as they try to keep from passing out through pulling too many G forces. Being a pilot in a jet that fast with those manoevers requires incredible body control and athleticism. You can see the pilots being moved roughly around that cockpit. It is intense, and provides a glimpse into the stresses in the marvels of technology.
This is the first movie of the year that has grossed $100M in its opening weekend. The word of mouth has been generally positive, even amongst those who weren’t even born when the first movie was released. And thank goodness we have a big screen movie that has nothing to do with superheroes! Add my name to those who are recommending this film.
Even though the movie started with the same musical opening sequence, the music thereafter wasn’t very noticeable. Even though Lady Gaga and Hans Zimmer are involved it wasn’t noticeable nor would I rush out and expect to purchase the soundtrack (unlike Top Gun that was very popular). It is not an extended rock video with oiled up, shirtless male bodies.
I will comment on my theatre experience. This was a Friday night at 7:40PM. It was almost completely full. And beyond the standard people showing up late, munching their popcorn far too loudly, crinkling their candy plastic bags and interrupting those who managed to get to the theatre on time, which is in an of itself are rude and ridiculous, but we also had someone have the brainstorm that a group of 10 or 11 year old boys should be brought on opening night. These are kids who have been cooped up with home schooling and being quarantined for the better part of their conscious life. Here in a dark theatre, they talk amongst themselves, eat loudly, get up and endlessly go to the bathroom in small sub-groups as if sitting in their own basement. All this before the adult who came up with the splendid idea for an outing of these brats. It was outrageous. If you can’t control your kid and their friends, then perhaps consider a matinee with other young monsters with A-D-D. And in case you are thinking “they have every right to be going to a theatre and pay the same ticket fees as I do”, I can simply state that my viewing doesn’t disturb another audience member. They are disturbing people ten rows away, both before and behind them.
Our Father: This Netflix documentary discusses the news story of an Indianapolis fertility doctor who for many years had decided, unilaterally, to use his own sperm to inseminate his female patients, rather than that of their spouses or third party donors that were selected by the parents. Remarkably, this isn’t illegal in a criminal sense. The patients did actually consent to have a procedure performed on them to try and produce a child. In many cases, this was successful. Many of these half-siblings are finding out about this deception through online sites like 23 and Me and Ancestry.com. They are shocked to find that rather than a handful of connections, that they have thousands. The doctor was tracked down and the number of half-siblings rose. The doctor initially denied any use of his own sample, he later called it “sparingly” but the show reveals 55+ half-siblings. It’s sick and surprising. You learn about the history of this doctor and his contention that this doesn’t need to be broadcast. He fears for his marriage, his church and his profession. With good reason. It is interesting and creepy. I think that a number of the complainants make more of the issue than is necessary. It is possible that had this not been done that they wouldn’t exist. I also belive that there is much to be said for nature vs nurture and that your parents are who raise you, not who donated a sample of sperm. I wouldn’t pretend to impart my sensibilities on others, as I haven’t walked a mile in their shoes. Still, I don’t believe this is the worst thing that has ever happened to these people. Worth seeing for a story that shows that knowing your doctor and their reputation may be something to be keenly aware.