Hey, guys... it looks like the original Top Gun
got top treatment from the sound of Bill Hunt's
4K disc review on thedigitalbits.com
was shot photochemically on 35 mm film (in Super 35 format) using Panavision Panaflex cameras and lenses, and was finished on film in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. For its Ultra HD release, the original camera negative was scanned in 4K, digitally remastered, and graded for high dynamic range (this disc includes both Dolby Vision and HDR10 options)
. I’m not going to beat around the bush; the image quality improvement here is significant. Going back to the original 2008 Blu-ray release for comparison was actually a shocking experience—that presentation was rife with edge enhancement, compression artifacting, even encoding errors. (And keep in mind, at the time, we all thought it was pretty good—I reviewed it here. It’s amazing to me, looking back, to consider just how far the state of the art in home theater image quality has come.) The whole Blu-ray presentation had an unfortunate “digital” appearance. Well, no more.
The 4K scan offers a dramatic increase in both fine detail and texturing, all of it much tighter and refined looking (save for the odd shot that’s optically soft). Given the film’s use of the Super 35 process, you’d expect to see grain and it’s definitely here, but it’s natural looking, moderate, and never distracting. (And by film grain, I don’t mean a DNR scrubbed image with static digital grain added back in—this is the real deal). Colors are now more naturally saturated and vibrant, but with added nuance and subtlety. Blacks are inky-dark but never look crushed. The brightest areas of the frame are just eye-reactive without appearing too hot or blown out (max luminance is 4,000 nits per the disc’s metadata). This is a beautiful and cinematic film image. I think the best way to describe it is that the film looks its vintage without showing its age. And that’s exactly what you want from a release like this.
As good as the new 4K image is though, the new English Dolby Atmos mix is even better.
Paramount has been responsible for some fantastic surround sound mixes over the years, and this one is no exception. The soundstage is big, wide, and constantly immersive. It’s vertically large now too, with the addition of the height channels. Top Gun
has always had an unapologetically aggressive surround mix, but it's smoother and more fluid here. Over the opening credits, the sound of jet engines, music, and radio coms filters in from every direction. Afterburners have real muscular punch and plenty of rumbling bass. You can almost feel the Faltermeyer score pulsing in your chest.
Even the quiet moments have pleasing atmospherics, which get much more aggressive in action scenes. During air combat in particular, when you’re looking at in-the-cockpit shots you can hear the hiss of airflow and targeting instrumentation as kind of a close-in bubble of sound from all around, even above. This opens up dramatically when you’re outside the cockpit—the whole sound space swirls around you as the fighters roll and dive. Jets engines pan in from behind and above as enemy aircraft fly into view on screen, then move around the soundstage with the imagery, and pan away again. Clarity is impressive as hell. This is straight-up great Dolby Atmos.