As students at the United States Navy's elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom. Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray debut of Top Gun from Paramount Home Entertainment.


The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:
Extras:
Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

93

Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount - 1986
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 109 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, French/Portuguese/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Portuguese, Spanish, French
Starring: Tom Cruise , Anthony Edwards , Val Kilmer , Kelly McGillis, Tom Skerritt, Michael Ironside, John Stockwell, Meg Ryan Rick Rossovich, Whip Hubley, Adrian Pasdar
Directed by: Tony Scott
Music by: Harold Faltermeyer
Written by: Jim Cash & Jack Epps Jr.
Region Code: A

Release Date: May 19, 2020
"I Feel the Need, The Need for Speed!"
Synopsis:

“As students at the United States Navy's elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.” – Paramount Home Entertainment

My Take:

I reviewed Top Gun when it released on Blu-ray in 2011 and have included comments from that review here. The rating for the film is the same. New ratings for the Ultra HD video (and remastered high definition video on the included Blu-ray), Dolby Atmos mix and bonus features are below.

I can’t help but find it hard to believe that Top Gun was released over 30 years ago. I saw it in the theater and remember the hype that surrounded it. Watching it now it seems derivative and passé but, back then it was slick, fresh and eclectic. Its blockbuster status was evident and the action was and, still is engaging. The production elements hold up very well thanks to Jeffrey Kimball’s superb cinematography, lots of spectacular aerial work and the use of very few special effects.

The script is a little narrow with varying levels of cheesy dialog but, the nostalgia factor runs high with plenty of memorable/quotable lines. The music soundtrack is one of the decade’s best and, really helps to drive the storyline. Like him or not there is no denying Tom Cruise’s star power and this film helped propel him to superstar status. He headed a cast of young talent, some of whom would go onto to impressive careers of their own. This includes Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Tim Robbins, and Meg Ryan. Tom Skeritt and Michael Ironside are spot on as the gruff naval veterans seeking to tame the testosterone fueled proceedings.

I have never thought that Kelly McGillis’ star was all that bright. After doing “Witness” with Harrison Ford her appearance in this film tossed her into the national spotlight. Other than “The Accused” with Jodie Foster she really didn’t make any follow ups worthy of note (although I like “The Winter People” with Kurt Russell). The chemistry between she and Cruise is mediocre at best which leaves the romantic elements in Top Gun adding very little. It’s the comradery between Maverick and Goose (Cruise and Edwards make a great pair), the over the top design of the young pilot core, and the high-flying adrenaline that make this film fun to watch. Watching it today, I found it nearly as entertaining as it was first when I first saw it. There is indeed something to be said for that.

Replay Value: 4 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for language, brief sensuality and thematic content.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 
 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 98
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 
 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 
 

Top Gun comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

Top Gun recently underwent a 4K restoration from the original film elements, and its presentation in Ultra HD is derived from the resulting 4K Digital Intermediate.

It's important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like Top Gun has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of cinematography that won't result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of many newer films shot today. This isn't a problem and shouldn't be seen as such.

Top Gun is a visually compelling film that successfully illustrates the look and feel of director Tony Scott’s vision. The video restoration featured on this Ultra HD rendering is something to behold. This has always been an engaging film, both in narrative, and scope. The film’s gorgeous cinematography benefits from the enhanced resolution and emboldened contrast.

Copious amounts of detail can be seen, both in wide-angle and close-up perspectives, imparting a discernible increase in depth/dimension. The rendering of the finest minutia in the film’s variety of textures are reproduced with stark realism. Captured on film, grain and minor innate softening are present. Neither are compromising.

The benefits of high dynamic range and wide color gamut are on display as earth toned colors have an added dimension that enlivens shots where they would normally have blended in, being seen as a less provocative background element that would generally go unnoticed. The film’s color base and variants of sepia are beautifully rendered, offering eye catching depth, that compliments the thematic tone.

Whites are emboldened, detailed and bright, especially during low level transitions viewed in a darkened environment. Contrast abounds, lending an authenticity that underscores the subject matter, bringing it to a visually rewarding level. Fleshtones are reproduced beautifully throughout the course of the presentation. I was pleased with the new 1080p rendering but found the Ultra HD presentation took it to the next level, allowing its attributes to be fully realized in a way that it hadn’t been before. Hands down this is the best that this film has looked since coming to home video. Kudos to Paramount..

Note: The Digital and disc releases will include a brand-new featurette that explores the film’s legacy and enduring popularity through new interviews with Tom Cruise, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and members of the cast of Top Gun: Maverick, including John Hamm, Miles Teller, Glen Powell, and more. Fans can also enjoy a retrospective segment from 2016 looking back at 30 years of Top Gun. Additional previously released bonus content on the disc includes commentary by producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Tony Scott, co-screenwriter Jack Epps, Jr. and naval experts; Danger Zone: The Making of Top Gun; a look inside the real Top Gun; original theatrical promotional material; music videos, and more.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

In comparing the DV and HDR10 renderings I ran the same scenes using my reference UHD player. The film’s elements looked outstanding on both formats with respect to the reproduction of HDR. I did feel that the DV presentation offered slightly richer color rendition and the handling of the finest details in brightly lit scenes. The latter wasn’t enough to warrant a rating difference but, I felt the former was. As I said, you can’t go wrong with either.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos soundtracks, I was pleased with how the mix was handled. When applied, the use of overhead sound objects elevated proportional correlation. When compared to the original 5.1 channel mix, the immersive sound offers a noticeable improvement by opening up the soundstage, elevating the perception of low-level detail. During the various encounters/action/interior/exterior venues featured in the film, the tracks brim with atmospherics and discrete sound objects which adds an enriching layer to the film’s soundtrack. This is noticeable right from the beginning, with examples being found throughout.

Top Gun doesn’t have the solidity and dynamism of newer genre films, which leaves it feeling a bit dated but, I would prefer to have it retain the original recording’s overall essence rather than sounding forced and bloated. When called for the Dolby Atmos mixes took a subtle or more active approach, and conveyed the spirit and overall feel of the original soundtrack while adding a complimentary element. I had a good time revisiting it.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 
 

Audio: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA
 

Top Gun comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

Paramount remastered Top Gun from the original 35mm film elements, and that 4K restoration was used for this 1080p rendering.

Comparing it to the 2011 release the image does appear sharper, with improved color rendering, and overall definition. If I had to summarize it I would say that this is a pleasing video presentation that seems a perfect match for the source material. Colors are deeply saturated with eye pleasing vitality and delineated depth. Images are resolute, with stable sharpness, crisp detail and appreciable subtle refinement. Certain scenes appear better resolved than others although I suspect this is related to the photography. Contrast is dynamic without being overpowering and blacks are respectable in depth with discernible detail visible in low lighting and shadows. I didn’t see any signs of video related artifacts and thought that in general video quality was excellent.

The lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (Atmos core) soundtrack bests the original 5.1 channel mix, offering solid dynamics, detail rich clarity, and noteworthy use of the entire surround platform to drive the film’s elements. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is notable. The low frequency effects channel is active as the subwoofer works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the bass response associated with the action-based sequences. Dialog is firmly planted in the center channel and renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction. I am so pleased that Paramount opted to include the Dolby Atmos/7.1TrueHD soundtrack on the Blu-ray.

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Top Gun Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Top Gun Blu-ray
    • NEW! The Legacy of Top Gun
    • NEW! On Your Six - Thirty Years of Top Gun: Five-Part Production Feature.
    o Looking Back
    o
    o America's Best
    o
    o Into the Danger Zone
    o
    o Going Ballistic
    o
    o Narrow Targets and the Future
  • Legacy Bonus Material
  • Digital Code
Final Thoughts:

Looking at Top Gun now I find it to be an entertaining slice of 80’s nostalgia that manages to retain much of what made it special back in the day. It comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray in this Combo Pack, from Paramount Home Entertainment, featuring newly restored video quality that befits its status, a terrific Dolby Atmos immersive listening experience that enhances its already renowned soundtrack, and new/ legacy supplements. Top Gun, in this Ultra HD Blu-ray/Blu-ray release is simply a must have for fans that are set up for Ultra HD Blu-ray and or Dolby Atmos immersive sound. Enjoy!
 
Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from  Portrait.com )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems