I've been a movie enthusiast my whole life and been writing movie reviews for over 15 years.
As of this writing, Top Gun Maverick has grossed over $1 billion dollars at the box-office after a 3-year delay because of the pandemic. Odds are you or someone you know has seen Maverick at least once. Let’s recap Top Gun Maverick director Joseph Kosinski’s previous 5 films.
1) Only The Brave (2017)
Based on the true story of the elite firefighters the Granite Mountain Hotshots and their battle with a historic blaze in 2013. The movie starts off slower than you’d expect given the pyrotechnics of the trailer. That time is used to at least give you a taste of what these firefighters go through just to do what they do. Josh Brolin gives one of his best performances as the lead Hotshot. Torn between his family and his job, Brolin makes you feel the weight of every choice. More time is given to develop character than you’d expect in these types of movie, but it makes the fiery climax that much more impactful. There are times when it feels like you’ve seen movies like this before, but it rarely dips into cliché. A technically proficient film that allows for human emotion as well.
2) Top Gun Maverick (2022)
Suffice it to say Maverick was worth the wait. Yes, it’s trading on 80s nostalgia, but it bests the 1986 original in almost every way. Though there really isn’t anything in Maverick that will surprise you, but you’ll find yourself more emotionally involved than you every were in the original. The Iceman/Maverick office scene carries more weight than most movies you’ll see and forget throughout the year. The aerial scenes are as close to -you-are-there as one might ever want to be. What it lacks in originality, Maverick makes up in depth. The sequel soars.
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3) Oblivion (2013)
This relatively weightless Tom Cruise science fiction actioner reminds you of the better films of the genre it feels like it stole most of its ideas from (Blade Runner and the first -and only good- Matrix movie just to name a couple), but that’s not to say it isn’t fun. What’s better that having Tom Cruise star in your movie? How about two Tom Cruises! Any fan of the genre can guess where most of the movie is going, but that doesn’t dampen your relatively enjoyment of it. One of those movies that’s nowhere near bad enough to hate but you feel could have improved in every aspect. Puts the ob(vious) in Oblivion.
4) Tron Legacy (2010)
Joe Kosinski’s first movie was the long awaited (by some) sequel to the (very slow) 80s cult film your dad probably liked and had a VHS copy of. Kosinski showed he had a way with visuals even though there the storyline was relatively thin. Almost like watching a videogame. Featuring special effects that weren’t up to par for what was needed, there was always something to watch on the frame even if and when the story flagged. Jeff Bridges does wonderful double duty playing a villain version of his character as well his older self. Bridges looks like he's having more fun than most of the audience was in 2010. A bright shiny toy with very little other than surface pleasure. Maybe that’s all you need from a movie set inside a video game.
5) Spiderhead (2022)
This Netflix prison/sci fi thriller was released about a month after Top Gun Maverick and is entertaining enough on its own terms. Chris Hemsworth plays a genius science person testing drugs on volunteer prisoners on an island prison far way from the rest of the outside world. The movie pretends to ask deep probing questions about the nature of free will or how much is too much in the name of scientific progress but short circuits trying to provide you with any real answers. That’s okay because it works as mindless entertainment you watch in the comfort of your own home. Hemsworth exudes movie star charisma as the possibly unscrupulous prison head and Top Gun Maverick’s Miles Teller does desperation to a T. A movie you forget about as soon as it’s over, but don’t regret watching.
Once you’re done watching Top Gun Maverick for the nth time, take a look at Joseph Kosinski’s other movies. You’re bound to see one that barely pays attention to any of the female characters.
© 2022 Noel Penaflor