Tag Archives: Tom Skerrit

Top Gun (1986) Review

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Top Gun

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains coarse language
Cast:
Tom Cruise as LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell
Kelly McGillis as Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood
Val Kilmer as LT Tom “Iceman” Kazansky
Anthony Edwards as LTJG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw
Tom Skerritt as CDR Mike “Viper” Metcalf
Director: Tony Scott

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.

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Classic 80s movie Top Gun is getting a sequel titled Top Gun: Maverick, released over a few decades after the original’s release. It has been a while since I had watched the first movie, so I was interested in revisiting it before the newest film’s release. I wouldn’t say that it is great but there’s a lot to like about it

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Despite this movie being about dogfighting and fighter pilots, Top Gun is less of an action movie and more of a coming-of-age film. Most of the actual flying is just done in training, real combat only happens in the third act. The writing isn’t anything special, the script is definitely formulaic, and I didn’t find the story to be all that thrilling or compelling. While I wouldn’t say that I was bored watching it, the story is a bit dull. I think the biggest criticism I have for Top Gun is that it feels more like a collection of memorable scenes more than a greatly cohesive movie; the plot didn’t have much direction or drive. The characters didn’t stand out for me but they were likable enough. When the drama appears, it really comes out of nowhere and is melodramatic but it works for the 80s vibe. Speaking of which, the 80s cheese factor helped a lot of the movie, it made some of the weaker and over the top elements work better for me.

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There are some solid performances. Tom Cruise plays the lead character of Maverick in one of his early iconic roles. I wouldn’t say its one of his all-time best performances by any means, but it is definitely one of his most recognisable characters. Cruise is charming and fun to watch, while also giving some depth and development to his character. The chemistry and bromance between Maverick and his friend Goose (Anthony Edwards) was very convincing. That’s more than I can say between the romance between him and Kelly McGillis’s character, which could be more than a little cheesy at times, but again the 80s vibe made it sort of work for me. Generally, the rest of the cast are decent enough.

TOP GUN, Kelly McGillis, Tom Cruise, 1986, (c) Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

Tony Scott’s stylish direction is one of the best parts of the film, it’s not one of Scott’s best but it is well made. The cinematography is great, and the dogfighting action sequences are beautifully shot. There aren’t as many of these action scenes as you’d initially think, but they are staggered out so they have us wanting more. The soundtrack is pure 80s and wonderfully enjoyable (even if it’s a little repetitive at points).

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If you were to make a list of the top 5 most iconic 80s movies, Top Gun would be right up there. There are definitely some issues with the writing and characters, and I wouldn’t call it great. However, there’s a real charm to it, and I can see why it became something of a cult classic. The cast led by Tom Cruise are solid, it’s well directed by Tony Scott, and the action sequences are entertaining. I do think it is worth checking out at least once.

Alien (1979)

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Alien

Time: 117 mins
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Sigourney Weaver as Ripley
Tom Skerritt as Dallas
Veronica Cartwright as Lambert
Harry Dean Stanton as Brett
John Hurt as Kane
Ian Holm as Ash
Director: Ridley Scott

A commercial crew aboard the deep space towing vessel, Nostromo is on its way home when they pick an SOS warning from a distant planet. What they don’t know is that the SOS warning is not like any other ordinary warning call. After picking up the signal, the crew realize that they are not alone on the spaceship when an alien stowaways on the cargo ship.

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The pacing of this movie is slow at first. The first half an hour or so is build up for the rest of the movie, which is absolutely perfect because it manages to create a very tense atmosphere. Alien is one of the best examples of how to create atmosphere in a movie, you take the pacing slower and let it build the atmosphere build up over time. This film also manages to give a feeling of claustrophobia and vulnerability that is present throughout the entire film.

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One reason that the alien is scary is because unless you’ve seen the other movies, you don’t know how this alien works and what it can do. The alien looks different every time we see it, and leaves us wondering what it would look like every time it’s on screen. If there is one thing that the alien represents, it’s the unknown. Like other well-made horror movies it doesn’t give all the answers to the creature that stalks the characters, all the viewer can do is watch. It’s quite a while before the alien gets seen or even mentioned. When it does, it only appears on screen every so often but that’s what made it scarier than if it was frequently popping up. The film’s scares don’t come from jump scares alone, it takes advantage of its atmosphere and uses it to help its scares. This led to one of the biggest scares I’ve ever seen in a movie. I won’t tell which scene it is or any of the other scares; in case you haven’t seen it. Like Psycho, many of the scenes are so easy to spoil it’s best to watch those moments yourself without prior knowledge. Another thing great about this movie is the fact that it doesn’t have action that could’ve ruined the amount of tension. Granted, James Cameron’s sequel manages to balance it out nicely but Alien succeeds in the type of movie it’s aiming to be: a haunted house in space.

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The actors still do a good job reacting to everything that happens despite the fact that they aren’t anything special. When you go to a horror movie you aren’t looking for great acting but fortunately the actors here to a much better job than most actors in most horror movies. While you don’t get to learn much about the characters, again, most horror movies aren’t about the people. We are with these characters for the whole movies so they needed to feel real enough, which they do.

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The alien is always a presence in this movie, even when it’s not on screen. This is due to many things, the camera work, the lighting, the sound design and the score. The score by Jerry Goldsmith in particular gives the movie an eerie vibe. The sound design should also be commended for managing to convey a feeling of emptiness. The camera’s tone is quite bleak and dark. The lighting in this movie in some parts is quite dark, leading viewers to wonder if the alien is on screen or not. All of those film techniques results in the film have a very creepy vibe.

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Although I still personally prefer Aliens over this movie, I will say is that Alien is scarier than its great sequel. Even though Aliens has a lot of action, don’t go into this movie expecting that same thing. It’s a slow, horror movie that builds atmosphere, and actually is a great example of how to create suspense, scares, atmosphere and an overall good horror film.