'Top Gun: Maverick' a worthy successor to original

This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Tom Cruise as Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in “Top Gun: Maverick.”

“Top Gun” is back, baby, and soaring to the top of the box office.

Of course, then the question on all the movie review sites was: How did they do it?

How did they seemingly take the “sequel nobody asked for” and make it a success?

After all, there’ve been plenty of ‘80s remakes that failed to honor the spirit of the originals.

We’re looking at you, 2014 “Robocop” and that Jaden Smith “Karate Kid.”

So how did “Top Gun” get it right?

Well, for one thing, they brought back Tom.

I mean, say what you will about Tom Cruise, the man.

But Tom Cruise, the actor? There’s nothing like it.

He’s the last of a dying breed: the “movie star.”

You know it’s Tom Cruise up there. After all, that’s all he plays: Tom Cruise characters.

But you buy it. and once he flashed that smile, I was in 10,000%.

Cruise returns as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, with the movie picking up 36 years after the original.

Maverick is spending his days as a Navy test pilot, an eager guinea pig for the newest, fastest planes.

But after three decades in the service, and with only the rank of captain to his name, the signs are starting to point to Mav having to hang up his wings soon.

But he’s called in for one last big job: Train a crack unit of pilots to fly a dangerous bombing run to take out a uranium plant in…well, the movie leaves the bad guy country anonymous.

No sweat for Maverick, right? Except that one of the pilots he’s training is Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, the son of Mav’s late best friend Nick “Goose” Bradshaw.

Oh boy.

I won’t give away any other throwbacks that the movie makes to the original.

But I went to see this with my Mom, who’s a big fan of the original, and she praised the movie for having just the right amount of callbacks without overdoing it.

And that gets me to the other key to the success of “Top Gun: Maverick”: It feels like an ‘80s movie.

That’s something that’s always bugged me: What is it about ‘80s movies that make them so good?

As a millennial, I don’t have the childhood nostalgia for them, but there’s just something about movies of that era that feels more…real.

And having thought way too much about this, for me it mostly comes down to this: Movies were slower back then.

There’s a scene in “Top Gun: Maverick” where a character stands outside a window, looking inside longingly.

It’s a powerful scene and they hold it there as the music plays.

No sudden close-up, no multiple angles — just that character standing in the window.

That’s not to say “Maverick” doesn’t have fast shots. I mean, duh. It’s “Top Gun.”

But it also knows when to let a scene breathe. and we don’t have enough of that in movies nowadays.

That being said: Yes, the action scenes are absolutely amazing.

It’s not even joking that you feel like you’re in the cockpit. and I definitely held my breath more than once.

So, yeah, the reason why this ‘80s remake succeeds where others have failed? It feels like an ‘80s movie.

This is the kind of movie they build movie theaters for. Go grab some popcorn and see it on the big screen while you can. You won’t regret it.

I give “Top Gun: Maverick” 5 stars out of 5.

Have you seen “Top Gun: Maverick?” What did you think? Follow Ben on Twitter at @BenRowePhoto and leave your thoughts in the discussion post there.

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