Top Gun: Maverick (12A)****
The Bob’s Burgers Movie (PG)**
Almost everything about Top Gun: Maverick is ridiculous – except for Tom Cruise’s commitment to delivering a proper big-screen action movie experience. Delayed by the pandemic for two summers, it hits the screen 36 years after the Tony Scott-directed original crystallized the idea of the high-concept blockbuster in the minds of audiences and made Cruise a mega-star – a position only he still holds: the last A-lister standing whose name can still sell a movie ticket. He knows it too. “Your species is heading towards extinction,” a gruff Ed Harris told Cruise’s Maverick near the start of the film. “Maybe,” Cruise smiles. “But not today.” Indeed, the whole film functions as a reaffirmation of the power of a movie star to transport you to another world, from the way a bewildered child in a restaurant looks at Maverick as if he had just arrived from outer space. down to the reminder he provides of how a Precision set is nothing without a close-up of Cruise and an intercut shot of a speedometer registering the boundary-pushing mach numbers Maverick then racks up that he once again flies into the danger zone. As he repeatedly says, “It’s not the plane, it’s the pilot” – and it’s impossible to ignore the subtext of that message in a movie competing with super-star movies. next-gen Star Wars heroes and reboots.
Of course, there are plenty of other life-lesson-style homilies in the self-consciously corny script. “Don’t think” is another Maverick favorite, a piece of advice to trust your instincts that he hands out to Top Gun recruits he’s been rushed to train, but also a plea, perhaps, to check your own brain on the doorstep for simple summer movie enjoyment. There’s certainly nothing terribly difficult about the plot, which revolves around a mission to take down a secret factory in an unnamed country that is upgrading uranium as part of a weapons program. nuclear. The fact that one of the Top Gun pilots Maverick has to teach is Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of former Maverick Goose wingman, whose tragic death in the first movie (he was played by Anthony Edwards) Maverick still feels guilty, so much so that his efforts to keep Rooster out of the sky earlier in his career drove a wedge between them.
Director Joseph Kosinski (who directed Cruise in the sci-fi epic Oblivion) uses digital trickery here to turn scenes from the first film into little home-movie-style memorabilia, but there’s also plenty of other callbacks, including a brief in-person cameo for Val Kilmer’s Iceman, which poignantly takes into account Kilmer’s own health struggles over the past few years. He has a nice little scene with Cruise, cutting through the sentimentality by reigniting their playful rivalry. There’s also an homage to the blatant homoeroticism of the original film, something that later became the source of an amusing monologue by Quentin Tarantino in the indie film Sleep With Me, but here is reduced to the blink of an eye. aware to the infamous beach volleyball scene from the first movie. (this involves American football and a lot of sweat).
Away from testosterone and high-octane dogfights (as slick and awesome as one would expect from a cruise movie), Maverick is mostly interested in reconnecting with an old flame called Penny (Jennifer Connolly), a token love in a film that makes no reference to Kelly McGillis’ centrality in the original (strangely, he finds room to include Meg Ryan’s character in his multiple flashback clips, though probably no one doesn’t remember Meg Ryan was even in Top Gun). Not that any of that really matters. Unless you haven’t seen a mainstream movie in the last 30 years, nothing will surprise you so much in Top Gun: Maverick – except, perhaps, the simple pleasure of watching a movie star get down to business. .
No doubt timed to coincide with Top Gun, the new documentary Lancaster looks back at the role played by air warfare during the Second World War, in particular the Lancaster bombings of Germany carried out by RAF Bomber Command. Although valued in films such as The Dam Busters (1955), the firebombing of Dresden irreparably tarnished Bomber Command’s reputation and challenged the morality of strategic bombing campaigns—a perception that the anti-war classic Slaughterhouse— Kurt Vonnegut’s Five played a shaping role. This book is never mentioned in David Fairhead and Ant Palmer’s film, but the surviving crews they interview provide fascinating and very open insight into their own struggles to reconcile their often crucial contributions to the war effort with the human toll it has cost. The film provides a comprehensive portrait of the lives of these servicemen and while there’s really no need to see this on the big screen, the first-hand accounts are well worth hearing.
Based on a long-running adult animated television show that has a fairly devoted cult following in the United States to have run for 12 seasons, Bob’s Burgers movie information nevertheless arrives without the penetrating pop culture cachet of The Simpsons or South Park. For the uninitiated, it revolves around a family running a seaside burger bar that has fallen on hard times, but quickly turns into a wacky mystery involving the discovery of a corpse and a plot to build a huge theme park. It is also a musical. File under “fans only”.
All films on general release starting May 27.