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Returning in a New Era, Top Gun Sequel Garners High Marks

Tom Cruise takes to the skies once more in this long-awaited sequel to the much-loved '80s blockbuster.
Returning in a New Era, Top Gun Sequel Garners High Marks

Earning a 97% "Certified Fresh" rating from critics on the recommendation site Rotten Tomatoes and with the likes of Deadline Hollywood's Pete Hammond saying that the film "tops the original in every way imaginable", Top Gun: Maverick is being hailed as an old-school blockbuster in a new age of filmmaking.

As A.O. Scott writes in his review for the New York Times, Maverick's first meeting with Rear Adm. Chester Cain seems to be telling Pete Mitchell that the game is over. And thanks to new technology, flyboys like him are all but obsolete.

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Review: Will This Stuff Still Fly? (New York Times)

Excerpt from New York Times: Based on this scene, you might think that the movie is setting out to be a meditation on American air power in the age of drone warfare, but that will have to wait for the next sequel. The conversation with Cain is not so much a red herring as a meta-commentary. Pete is the avatar of Tom Cruise, and the central question posed by this movie has less to do with the necessity of combat pilots than with the relevance of movie stars. With all this cool new technology at hand — you can binge 37 episodes of Silicon Valley grifting without leaving your couch — do we really need guys, or movies, like this?
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The senior entertainment editor for Polygon, Matt Patches tweeted 12 years ago that "If Top Gun 2 happens, I will eat a shoe." According to Vanity Fair, as Top Gun: Maverick blasts into theaters this weekend, Patches has been forced to make good on his promise and reflects on how one should never underestimate Tom Cruise, and why he’s—somehow—willing to risk everything all over again.

Top Gun: Maverick Made a Man Eat His Own Shoe, as Well as His Words (Vanity Fair)

Excerpt from Vanity Fair: Shortly after completing the deed, Patches is triumphant, if tired. "I’ve gone to great heights. I’ve flown the jet, I’ve landed the jet, I’ve come back. I’ve gone full Maverick. It seemed impossible, but why would I doubt Tom Cruise? This was the biggest mistake, because Tom Cruise became more committed to doing stunts. I would totally underestimate him, because the incarnation of him where it’s like, "I’m gonna attach myself to a plane and fly in the sky"—that didn’t exist yet.
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As for the U.S. Navy's real training program that inspired the 1986 film, the genesis of the Fighter Weapons School was based on a report of the Navy's air-to-air missile performance over the skies of Vietnam in 1968. According to Smithsonian, the Navy’s assessment of the preparedness of its own flight crews was brutal, and one of its many recommendations was that the Navy establish an advanced training school for fighter pilots.

‘Top Gun’ Is Back. But Is the Elite Navy Fighter Pilot School Really Like the Movies? (Smithsonian)

Excerpt from Smithsonian: "That's where TOPGUN began," Hill Goodspeed, a historian at the National Naval Aviation Museum, says. "The resulting Navy Fighter Weapons School literally changed the face of the air war over North Vietnam as seen in the improved kill ratios against enemy fighters." Based at Naval Air Station Miramar in San Diego, the program that emerged was rigorous and demanding. Its instructors were subject-matter experts who used real-world intelligence to help trainees grow as fighter pilots. The program involved both lectures and training flights followed by relentless debriefs.

With a younger roster of cocky pilots, the F-18 Hornet replacing the F-14 Tomcat, and a new, present-day mission, Top Gun: Maverick's engagement with audiences will be measured by its box office results. And just like Maverick's opening scene as a test pilot, predictions are currently in the stratosphere.  

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