'A Textbook Example of How to Make a Sequel'

Critics praise visuals, nostalgia of 'Top Gun: Maverick'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2022 7:38 AM CDT

The praise for Top Gun: Maverick has not let up. The sequel to Tony Scott's 1986 classic, out Friday, drew rave reviews at CinemaCon and now has a 96% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences are even happier, at 99%. Still harboring a streak of rebellion, Navy pilot Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is put in charge of training aviator recruits—including Rooster, the son of his best friend from the first film, Goose—for a mission unlike any to come before. Here's what critics are saying:

  • "An electric tribute … to '80s cinema in general, and to Cruise," it's "a reaffirmation of its headliner's peerless stardom and, with it, the full-throttle pleasures of yesteryear blockbusters that prized marquee personality and practical effects over weightless CGI spectacle," writes Nick Schager at the Daily Beast. Plus, there are plenty of shout-outs to the original, including "a shirtless beach football game played by a collection of glistening-torso Adonises." Overall, it's "a summer spectacular" and "an absolute blast."

  • "In some ways a meditation on what happens to gifted rebels later in life," the film is "a textbook example of how to make a sequel," according to Mark Kennedy at the AP. It "satisfies with one foot in the past by hitting all the touchstones of the first film … and yet stands on its own." There's a new love interest for Maverick (played by Jennifer Connolly), but the film is still a fulfilling action movie, with director Joseph Kosinski "somehow making us feel claustrophobic in the wide open sky as pilots swoop and swerve."

  • "If the flying scenes here blow your mind, it's because a great many of them are the real deal, putting audiences right there in the cockpit alongside a cast who learned to pilot for their parts," writes Peter Debruge at Variety. In an age of CGI, "it's thrilling to see the impact of gravity on actual human beings, pancaked to their chairs by multiple G-forces," he writes. Indeed, it's "the most immersive flight simulator audiences will have ever experienced."

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  • The film recycles from the original, yet manages to "still feel contemporary," writes Brian Lowry at CNN. "The seemingly tired plot of Maverick carrying around guilt over Goose all these years, and fretting about adding his kid to that wreckage, works unexpectedly well." "An exceptionally well cast class of new pilots" helps, too. It "might not be enough to take your breath away, but as brawny summer entertainment goes, it comes shockingly close."
(More movie review stories.)

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