‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Opens to Strong Reviews from U.S. Movie Audiences

Tom Cruise as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in, "Top Gun: Maverick". (Photo: via Paramount Pictures)

Opening Night Crowds Pack Theaters: Tell the Aviationist, “It Was Worth the Wait”.

“It was worth the wait!”. “Way better than the original”. “I thought it would never live up to the hype, but it was really good.” “Amazing. I’m coming back”.

That’s what a U.S. movie audience in Livonia, Michigan told TheAviationist.com after seeing a special premiere of the long anticipated “Top Gun: Maverick” on Thursday night.

After multiple delays over two years, concerns were surfacing within aviation circles and on social media that the movie may no longer feel relevant and could open to a lackluster reception. Early indications on opening night suggest the opposite. Fans in the Midwest were raving about the film on social media and outside theaters.

“I was disappointed by the delays and was ready to give up, but it lived up to the hype. It was actually better than the original” one movie goer told TheAviationist.com.

In some ways, “Top Gun: Maverick” is both a remake of the original film and a sequel. Sections of the original storyboard are faithfully reproduced in “Maverick” but with current aircraft and updated cinematography. The result is incredible. It inspires aviation fans in the same way as the original.

The massive amount of production teasers and hype media that sought to maintain excitement over the film’s release provided many insights into potential plot lines, and while the storyline in “Maverick” is largely predictable and has few surprises, the cinematography and the star power of Tom Cruise carry the film through the predictable themes. Nothing about “Maverick” will surprise you, everything about “Maverick” will delight you.

Plot additions include some inspiration from famous Hollywood aviation classics such as “The Right Stuff” and the lesser known 1954 film, “The Bridges at Toko Ri”. Each of these additions build thematic variety into the basic plot from the previous 1986 “Top Gun”.

It’s almost no doubt that writers for “Top Gun: Maverick” were inspired by the classic 1954 film, “The Bridges at Toko Ri”. (Photo: via United Artists)

There are noteworthy updates to the original story in “Maverick”. As fans already know, “Maverick” prominently features a female combat pilot. In general, depictions of gender in the movie have been recalibrated to reflect modern sensitivities. The film dodges political commentary by never explicitly naming an adversary nation, although “enemy” aircraft and climate seen in combat scenes suggest a common boogey-man resurrected from the Cold War and now, perhaps more relevant again with recent headlines.

The flying sequences live up to the hype, with some truly remarkable sequences that also took inspiration from previous aviation film classics including the 1964 film, “633 Squadron” and even the original “Star Wars”.

The 1964 film, “633 Squadron” likely inspired some of the scenes and themes in the new, “Top Gun: Maverick”. (Photo: via United Artists)

If there is one weak component to “Top Gun: Maverick”, it may be that the sound track sags in places where the previous 1986 film absolutely soared. But an uninspired musical score has done little to hold back fan adoration of the film so far as “Maverick” has racked up an unusual five-star rating on the popular film critique website Rotten Tomatoes as of opening night.

Any sequel runs the risk of not at least clearing the critical high bar of its original, and the long-anticipated “Top Gun: Maverick” more than achieves while maintaining much of what made the original so good. No aviation fan should miss “Top Gun: Maverick” and most will be watching this film over and over for years. As difficult as it may seem, “Top Gun: Maverick” was well worth the wait.

About Tom Demerly
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on TheAviationist.com, TACAIRNET.com, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.