This week: Tom Cruise flies high as Maverick on Blu-ray, someone needs to spike the punch at Disney's Prom, and a tender coming-of-age teen drama set in the early '80s.
Top Gun (Blu-ray)
Tony Scott's Top Gun became the highest grossing film of 1986, made a mega-star out of Tom Cruise, had a popular soundtrack that ruled the airwaves, and epitomized the gung-ho patriotism of the Reagan era. In the 25 years since its release, Top Gun has become two movies: the "need for speed" action blockbuster starring Cruise as hotshot naval aviator "Maverick" and an unintentionally funny, homoerotic opus that was hilariously analyzed by Quentin Tarantino in the movie Sleep with Me.
Whether you, in 2011, view Top Gun as a kick-ass '80s action picture or the most subversive gay flick of all time, the movie has never looked or sounded better than it does for its Blu-ray debut. The endless scenes of real jets—not fake-looking CG creations—maneuvering through crystal-clear blue skies will still take your breath away. It is also a charge to see a then-slim Val Kilmer at full potency, a young Meg Ryan prepping to become America's sweetheart, and a pre-couch-jumping Cruise charming the pants off his instructor (Kelly McGillis) and taking her to the "danger zone" with his toothy smiles.
Best extras: This Blu-ray debut ports over all the extras from the Widescreen Special Collector's Edition DVD, including an audio commentary, a six-part documentary, featurettes, TV spots and four music videos, including one for Berlin's Oscar-winning "Take My Breath Away." Of particular interest is the featurette "Best of the Best: Inside the Real Top Gun," which details the history and inner-workings of a real facility that trains America's best aviators.
Verdict: Buy Me
Disney's Prom is a movie that, like a lot of teenagers, has a bit of an identity problem. It follows a few students of different socioeconomic backgrounds as they prepare for prom, including a pert goody-two-shoes dance planner (Aimee Teegarden) and the two-cool-for-school bad boy (Thomas McDonell) with a motorcycle that she secretly wants to ask her to the dance.
The sanitized PG dialogue between the characters makes it all a little too junior for anyone actually old enough to attend a prom, and the lack of chemistry between the leads won't convince the tween set to channel any Twilight-style excitement. With a soundtrack peppered with obscure bands that aren't in heavy rotation on anyone's playlist, Prom is as weak as the punch served at the dance.
Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain a making-of featurette and bloopers; the BD adds a new short featuring Nicholas Braun getting shot down as he asks even more girls to the dance, four deleted scenes and seven music videos from bands you've probably never heard of.
Verdict: Forget Me
Unlike Prom, Skateland is a coming-of-age romance that actually captures the essence of an era—in this case, small-town Texas in 1983. Shiloh Fernandez plays Ritchie Wheeler, a 19-year-old at the crossroads of some major life changes—his parents are getting a divorce, the roller-skating rink that he works at is shutting down, his best friend just got killed in a car accident and Ritchie might lose the girl of his dreams (Ashley Greene) if he doesn't come up with a life plan fast.
For Gen-Xers who burned more than a few afternoons at the roller-skating rink listening to early '80s new wave bands like Flock of Seagulls and Blondie, Skateland will take you back and feels more authentic than other recent retro-minded comedies like Take Me Home Tonight. There's nothing revolutionary in Skateland's approach, but this sweet slice of nostalgia might remind you a bit of the films of John Hughes, to whom the film is dedicated to at the end.
Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain deleted scenes.
Verdict: Rent Me
Also New This Week: The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Second Season, Sons of Anarchy: Season 3, Madea's Big Happy Family, Desperate Housewives: The Complete Seventh Season, Coen Brothers Collection (BD), Good Will Hunting (BD), Nikita: The Complete First Season, The Nightmare Before Christmas (BD 3D), House, M.D.: Season Seven, Miller's Crossing (BD), 90210: The Third Season, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (BD 3D), Raising Arizona (BD), Blood Simple (BD), The Twilight Zone: Season 5 (BD), The Perfect Host, Bereavement, Final Destination 2 (BD) and Final Destination 3 (BD)