Tom Cruise comes home in the 4K treatment from Paramount this week with three remastered titles, a double Tiny Scott feature, Days of Thunder and Top Gun, and the Steven Spielberg 21st century take on the classic tale of War of the Worlds.
Of the three films I was most eager to dig into Top Gun as it had been years since I’d seen it. And I’d held back on purchasing it, as I wanted to make sure I got the best bang for my buck, and without jumping too far ahead, it’s totally worth it.
Of the three films, Days of Thunder comes off the weakest of the collection. Both War of the Worlds comes with a blu-ray copy, but Thunder only comes with the 4k (and digital versions, just like the other two). Released as Scott and Cruise’s follow-up to Top Gun, it basically repurposes the earlier film’s plot and throws it into the world of NASCAR racing. All well and good, but the story is a little uneven, and no matter how good it looks, and it does, the film is sadly lacking any real extras, though I totally dug on the isolated music track. It’s got a fantastic cast including Robert Duvall, Cary Elwes, Nicole Kidman and John C. Reilly and has Scott’s signature visual style.
War features an older Cruise in his second collaboration with Spielberg (the first being the fantastic Minority Report) and brings H.G. Wells classic invasion tale into the 21st century, even honouring the books original ending much to the consternation of film goers and the nitpickers. I was okay with it, it just goes to show how the lowest thing get lay a civilisation low (looks around nervously).
The extras on Worlds are all fantastically compiled from the earlier DVD and blu-ray releases, and there were a couple I hadn’t seen before, and I jam on behind the scenes features, which of course paid off brilliantly as I threw in the disc of Top Gun.
If you hadn’t read my review of Top Gun back when I was working my way through 101 Action Movies, then I’ll give you the broad strokes. Short of seeing Top Gun in an airplane hanger, I saw it in the next best place, a theatre on a Naval Air Base. I was growing up in Bermuda, and there were two American stations there, one was close to us, and the theatre there screened Top Gun was released.
I kid you not, the theatre was standing room only. There were people sitting and standing everywhere. Naval aviators, navy crew were everywhere. Me and a few of my friends were the youngest people there, and the testosterone, the sheer enthusiasm and excitement that permeated that screening has never been equalled for me anywhere.
I was sat on the iron grate stairs that led to the projection booth, my feet dangling over the side, my arms crossed and resting on one of the cross bars as cheers, and enthusiastic calls filled the theatre from the very opening of the film.
Moments in, someone jeered the screen when Maverick (Cruise) and his RIO Goose (Anthony Edwards) tangle with a MiG – “That’s not a MiG, that’s an F-5!” But that didn’t stop their foot-stomping, flag-waving joy for the F-14 Tomcats throwing themselves into the air.
We marvelled (and I still do) at the stunning aerial photography, the sheer beauty of the Scott’s saturated colours and film gradients, that layer out the film. The audience was loud, raucous, and cheered as the climax of the film gave us an intensely paced, fantastically shot dogfight sequence.
Honestly, if they hadn’t already signed up for service I’m sure the entire theatre would have marched into a recruiting office and joined up then and there.
It was an amazing watch, and consequently the film has become incredibly important, and nostalgic for me… and of course, that soundtrack… That cassette got played so much as I raced around the island on my moped.
So when I was going to add the film to my collection (finally) it had to be the right time, it had to have all the extras I didn’t know I wanted, and those I did.
The Top Gun 4K delivers. The picture, the sound, and those extras. There’s an all new half hour feature that looks back on the legacy of the film, has numerous moments with Cruise who shares reflections and stories from the set, and talking head interviews with members of the cast of the upcoming sequel Top Gun: Maverick, which seems to boast as much stunning aerial photography as the first film.
There are music videos, storyboards, original promotional material, and the previously released 2004 extra (but I hadn’t seen it, cause I hadn’t bought a copy yet) of a feature length (two and a half hours) documentary about every aspect of the making of the film… Umm, yes please!
These three movies are still incredibly entertaining, and capture Cruise at different points in his career, but of the three, Top Gun is the one you need to make sure you add to your collection.
Days of Thunder, War of the Worlds, and Top Gun in 4k are available today from Paramount Canada. Check them out!!