Old School Blockbusting with 'Top Gun'

My review of Fast Five? Nothing spectacular. That's why I recommend you ring in summer blockbuster season with a throwback instead.

A “blockbuster,” by definition, is a work—usually a film—that is made at great expense and hopes to make a great deal of money. The first true blockbuster film was Jaws, and throughout the past 35 years, the traits of this sort of film have coalesced. There will be danger. There will be romance. There will be prominent Hollywood stars. There will be blood, but much of it will be off-screen.

Please note that There Will Be Blood was, by no definition, a blockbuster, though it was excellent.

Anyway, the established season for these flicks begins with May and more or less ends in mid-August (revolving pretty directly around summer vacation, by no small coincidence). If you’re near a calendar, you’ll note that May 1 is Sunday, meaning that this is the (tentative) beginning of blockbuster season. So, what do we have to bust our blocks this coming weekend?

According to an ad I heard on Pandora, “If you’ve been waiting for a reason to come to the movies, we’ve got FIVE.” This was followed by an unhealthy amount of tire screeching and bravado-soaked male voices: it was a spot for Fast Five, the latest effort in the still-enduring Fast and the Furious franchise. Five opens everywhere (literally everywhere, it’s probably playing in your basement) on Friday. Now, I’ll reserve my specific judgment for after I will have seen the film, but generally speaking: is this really what we’re down to with our tent-pole releases? Can’t we get a better early-May blockbuster than the fifth entry in a series about the exploits of bald men driving cars with lots of speed?

Thankfully, someone in the programming department at AMC Theatres recognized this dilemma. Furthermore, this kind soul knew two things: planes are better than cars, and the 1980’s were better than now. So you’ve got two chances this weekend to catch rare screenings of the 1986 classic Top Gun.

It’s the 25th anniversary of the film that sent all of us into the danger zone (and a great many into the recruitment office.) To celebrate, AMC is rolling out a digitally re-mastered print and throwing in a free poster to sweeten the deal.

As a relic of big, loud summer movies past, it remains an excellent example of the form. Whereas most current blockbusters either feature warmed-over stars of the past or force-fed young actors with little-to-no appeal (I’m looking at you, Shia LaBeouf), Top Gun featured a rising star who actually became a major star in a classically Hollywood performance. (Ignore any and all opinions you may have developed of Mr. Cruise in the intervening years, please.)

It’s also a great chance to show the kids what movies looked like when they were shooting the stunts for real. It’s hard to imagine the type of aerial daring exhibited in Top Gun in today’s movies when it can just be faked after the fact. Film is inherently illusion, but 25 years ago, the illusion was a lot riskier than it is today.

Most importantly, Top Gun is a ton of fun, and instantly the best bet going in local theaters this weekend; get there early and check out the surprisingly delicious sandwiches at the Loews Club Restaurant upstairs (the Buffalo Chicken is an over-filling delight.)

And if you see it Saturday, why not throw in a screening of Fast Five afterward? It’s dumb, but hey: The Rock is in this one!

Fast Five in wide release this weekend. Top Gun at AMC/Loews Waterfront 22, 300 Waterfront Drive W, Homestead. Sat., 12:30 p.m. and Mon., 7 p.m. Adults $7.50, children $5.00. Info: 412-462-6550, amctheatres.com/waterfront.

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Cutch as a Steeler? Tomlin Likes the Idea

Cutch as a Steeler? Tomlin Likes the Idea

The Steelers coach says he has just the right role in mind for the Pirates outfielder.
Feed the Meter from your Phone? There May Soon be an App for That

Feed the Meter from your Phone? There May Soon be an App for That

But the plan from the Pittsburgh Parking Authority may have some strings attached.
Just Released: Trailer for Jake Gyllenhaal's New Movie Shot in Pittsburgh

Just Released: Trailer for Jake Gyllenhaal's New Movie Shot in Pittsburgh

The boxing drama "Southpaw" is set to arrive in theaters in late July.
Pittsburgh’s Billy Gardell Hosts ‘Monopoly’ Game Show

Pittsburgh’s Billy Gardell Hosts ‘Monopoly’ Game Show

The “Monopoly Millionaire’s Club” premieres this weekend.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Top 10 in April

Pittsburgh's Top 10 in April

The 10 best things to do in April in Pittsburgh.
20 Great Biking & Hiking Trails in Western Pennsylvania

20 Great Biking & Hiking Trails in Western Pennsylvania

Each trail has been lovingly constructed and maintained, using old infrastructure to reconnect disparate communities.
A Superior Strategy? Kevin Sousa's Big Bet on Braddock

A Superior Strategy? Kevin Sousa's Big Bet on Braddock

Pittsburgh chef Kevin Sousa will draw on a fierce work ethic, community goodwill and faith in his own vision for Superior Motors, the progressive American spot he plans to open this year.
Getting Better Over Time: PNC Park at 15

Getting Better Over Time: PNC Park at 15

Adoration for PNC Park is near-universal. But would the park be the cherished baseball palace it is today if a few early proposals instead had become reality?
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Everything That's Awesome About Pittsburgh Today
Cutch as a Steeler? Tomlin Likes the Idea

Cutch as a Steeler? Tomlin Likes the Idea

The Steelers coach says he has just the right role in mind for the Pirates outfielder.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
19 Ways Pittsburgh Earned the “Quirky” Label

19 Ways Pittsburgh Earned the “Quirky” Label

Stand proud, Pittsburgh: Our brand of quirky is a good thing — positive, uplifting, fun, colorful, imaginative.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Culinary Excellence: 13 Renowned Chefs Serve Once-in-a-Lifetime Meal in Pittsburgh

Culinary Excellence: 13 Renowned Chefs Serve Once-in-a-Lifetime Meal in Pittsburgh

Justin Severino and Hilary Prescott Severino assembled locally and nationally recognized chefs for Wednesday's James Beard Foundation dinner.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
10 Best Hand Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed (and They All Cost Less Than $20)

10 Best Hand Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed (and They All Cost Less Than $20)

You don’t have to be a handyman to be handy with those spring projects, if you have the right equipment.

Comments


Bar Exam: bellfarm Kitchen | Bar

Bar Exam: bellfarm Kitchen | Bar

The Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh International Airport's new bar & restaurant wants to be more than just a hotel joint.

Comments


10 Reasons Why You Should Attend the Farm to Table Pittsburgh Conference

10 Reasons Why You Should Attend the Farm to Table Pittsburgh Conference

Get the lowdown on one of the best food events of the season.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Spring Fling

Spring Fling

Add some warmth to your table with these nature-inspired plates and bowls from artist Lisa Neimeth.

Comments


This week's buzz from the PM editors
George Takei Appears at Pittsburgh's First Humanities Festival

George Takei Appears at Pittsburgh's First Humanities Festival

On Sunday, find out why the Daily Dot in 2012 declared Takei the most influential person on Facebook.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Cultures Collide: Multi-Traditional Weddings

Cultures Collide: Multi-Traditional Weddings

When the bride and groom hail from different backgrounds, a planning balancing act ensues. Here are two weddings that incorporate Hindu culture with style.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Design Tip: Use Hardware to Revamp Dressers & Cabinets

Design Tip: Use Hardware to Revamp Dressers & Cabinets

Tailor knobs and pulls to each room in your home.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Three Pittsburgh Heavyweights to Team Up on Data Mining

Three Pittsburgh Heavyweights to Team Up on Data Mining

With backing from UPMC, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh on Monday announced a three-way collaboration to use the digital data to revolutionize health care.

Comments


Thinking outside the box (score)
Death to the NFL Salary Cap

Death to the NFL Salary Cap

It doesn’t provide parity or competitive balance. The salary cap just steals millions from players who, rightfully, want to retire before hits to the head could ruin their life.

Comments


Award-winning sports commentary by Sean Conboy
R.I.P. Corporate Penguins, 2009-2014

R.I.P. Corporate Penguins, 2009-2014

Fire Bylsma? Fire Shero? The Penguins' problems run deeper.

Comments