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Top Gun

Top Gun
A Paramount Home Video Release
1986, 109 Minutes, Color, Rated PG

Starring:  Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerrit, Michael Ironside
List Price:  $29.99 USD, released 10/20/99
Packaging:  Keepcase, Region 1 NTSC
Disc Format:  Single Sided, Dual Layered (DVD-9)
Aspect Ratio:  1.33:1 Fullscreen, 2.1:1 Widescreen
Audio Formats:  English 5.1, English 2.0 Surround, French 2.0 Surround
Subtitles:  Spanish
Closed Captioning:  English
Features:  Interactive Menus, Scene Selection

Top Gun is a true high-flying classic, featuring a great cast and exciting subject matter similar in concept to the racing movie Days of Thunder. Tom Cruise plays Maverick Mitchell, a young flier who’s out to become the best there is. Despite his top-notch flying abilities, his carefree and sometimes insolent personality makes him a tough sell to his immediate superiors. But when it comes time to send the best of the best off to the Navy’s most prestigious fighter school for training, Maverick and his flight partner are at the front of the line. Fantastic aerial photography during dogfights make this a visually exciting film.

The video transfer is yards better than any previous version. The unusual 2.1:1 ratio widescreen transfer is sharp and crisp with minimal lint and aliasing. Colors are very vibrant – at times too vibrant – but make for spectacular outdoors scenery. Black levels are well calibrated and noise is almost non-existent. Detail levels are good, but overall if the color saturation had been turned down a notch it would have resulted in more realistic skin tones. The dual-layered disc also includes a fullscreen pan-and-scanned version, each with 30 chapter stops. Both transfers combined, the disc holds 8 gigabytes of data.

Paramount created a brand new 5.1 soundtrack mix for this release of Top Gun, but it’s not as impressive as one would expect. The forward stage is immense with fantastic bass and roaring engines, easy to understand dialogue and clear (though somewhat repetitive) music. Some viewers have commented that they though the rear channels were completely missing, however that isn’t the case. Compared to the (included) ProLogic track, the split surround channels on the 5.1 mix are used very sparingly at only key places. The most active sequence in the entire film is contained in chapter 20, during a dogfight, where the rear channels finally make their presence known. Also available are English captions and Spanish subtitles.

As is typical of early Paramount releases, Top Gun has no extra features; only static scene selection screens are included. Though the video track is good, the eccentric 5.1 track and lack of extra features make it difficult to recommend on technical merits, though fans of the movie will still want to check it out.

- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on August 16, 1999.

Video Quality:
Audio Quality:
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
System Equipment
Sony DVP-S500D DVD Player
Sony STR-GA8ES 5.1 Receiver
Sony KV-27V65 27" Television using S-Video
Nuance Spatial & Star Series Speakers

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