After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. When he finds himself training a detachment of Top Gun graduates for a specialized mission the likes of which no living pilot has ever seen, Maverick encounters Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), call sign: “Rooster,” the son of Maverick’s late friend and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka “Goose.”

Facing an uncertain future and confronting the ghosts of his past, Maverick is drawn into a confrontation with his own deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who will be chosen to fly it.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jude A. comments, “After years of delays, Top Gun: Maverick finally flies onto screens better than ever. “Better than ever,” as in, possibly greater than its predecessor in 1986. As a movie that relies naturally on the technological advancements behind the aircraft used in the film, of course the Top Gun series progresses to new literal and figurative heights in its highly anticipated sequel.” Benjamin P. adds, “Top Gun: Maverick is nothing short of a miracle. This sequel to a movie from three decades ago is head and shoulders above its predecessors in sheer cinematic immersion and thematically has more on its mind: Legacy, family, love, loss, the ultimate costs of living like a maverick.” Katherine S. adds, “Top Gun: Maverick is a high octane, action-packed movie with secret missions, crazy “dogfighting,” and facing your fears. Given the spectacular cinematography, I would highly recommend watching this on the biggest screen possible. And if you really want to capture what it might feel like to fly in a naval fighter jet, watch it in IMAX 4DX, which is what I viewed it in.” Miguel C. wraps it up with, “The breathtaking film Top Gun: Maverick directed by Joseph Kosinski is absolutely stunning, from the actors to the set. It has a beautiful soundtrack by Lorne Balfe including Lady Gaga’s song, ‘Hold My Hand.’” See their full reviews below.

Top Gun: Maverick

By Miguel C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The breathtaking film Top Gun: Maverick directed by Joseph Kosinski is absolutely stunning, from the actors to the set. It has a beautiful soundtrack by Lorne Balfe including Lady Gage’s song, “Hold My Hand.” The special effects and the different sounds that go with it make you think you’re actually there. I was definitely on the edge of my seat.

The story features Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.  With 30 years under his belt as a top Navy aviator, Pete Mitchell is back.  Now he’s training the graduates for a very special and scary assignment in which no one knows if they will return home. Maverick must now confront many of his ghosts and fears, which means there will be sacrifices from those who he chooses to fly. 

Top Gun: Maverick is my official favorite movie—not only is one of the leading characters Tom Cruise, but the original Top Gun film was a phenomenon and number one in the world in 1986. The special effects in this sequel are absolutely everything.  l didn’t feel like I was watching a movie—I felt like I was part of it. The wonderful cast, the camera work, and everything else is very sharp. 

The message of this film is to not always think about the consequences of something, but instead to just do it. Kind of like: Go for it!  Don’t be scared—we have to live our lives to the fullest! Top Gun: Maverick has some sequences of intense action, and some strong language, but otherwise it doesn’t have anything to look out for. This is honestly a really good movie to watch all together with the family, but maybe not with the little ones. 

I give Top Gun: Maverick 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. You can find it in theaters May 27, 2022. 

Top Gun: Maverick

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Top Gun: Maverick is nothing short of a miracle. This sequel to a movie from three decades ago is head and shoulders above its predecessors in sheer cinematic immersion and thematically has more on its mind: Legacy, family, love, loss, the ultimate costs of living like a maverick.

Top Gun: Maverick finds Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell (Tom Cruise) still living for the thrill of the flight, carrying the weight of a program that stands on the brink of being decommissioned with his daring unwillingness to be rendered extinct. Even as the very thing he loves doing puts him at risk every time he buckles into the cockpit, he hasn’t done anything else in the years since we last saw him. He’s sent back to Top Gun as an instructor by old pal Admiral ‘Iceman’ Kazansky (Val Kilmer), but his function is to teach pilots who’ve graduated the program to carry out a mission that forces to them use what they know and everything Maverick is there to teach them. There, he reignites a romance with an old flame (Jennifer Connolly) and reckons with the death of his best friend Goose by teaching his son Rooster (Miles Teller).

Top Gun: Maverick’s highs are rooted in the sensory experience of watching this movie. This isn’t a movie you watch, this is a movie that happens to you. Its technology and narrative are in harmony. Without the vision behind the way these flight sequences were brought to the screen, this movie wouldn’t be as compelling as it is. You’ll feel like your seat becomes the cockpit of an F-18. It’s that closeness we have to the pilots that makes all the in-flight action all the more engaging. You feel every dive, every turn, every maneuver because director Joseph Kosinski’s camera puts you right there. And the story on the ground is unexpected and moving. In what can sometimes feel like a deja-vu fest of direct callbacks to the original, and it works: Top Gun: Maverick uses that quality to its advantage. Maverick feels those same pangs of familiarity. We see him standing at a bar, watching his students size each other up, hoping to figure out the pilot hierarchy, knowing that decades before, he was doing the same thing as they are. He’s stuck in these cycles of his own making. And by being asked back to Top Gun, he finds another. Ultimately, Maverick lives for the flying, but not its accompanying sacrifices, and in this film he has too much in his life to lose it all. How they made Maverick such a richly-textured figure of regret and the promise of second chances is exciting to see.

The lesson of Top Gun: Maverick is to not be afraid to forgive and grow. Maverick stands on the precipice of true closure, but it’s his own pride and unwillingness to try that keeps him from patching up his fraught relationship with Rooster. Maverick can’t rectify his past until he puts pettiness aside and work to earn Goose’s forgiveness.

I give Top Gun: Maverick 5 out of 5 stars and can’t recommend it enough. And I give It an age rating of 10 to 18, plus adults, for some foul language and tense moments of aerial combat. The rumble of an F-18 engine complemented by the thawing of estranged bonds and the warmth of seeing old friends. That is the magic of Top Gun: Maverick—it flies into theaters May 27, 2022.

Top Gun: Maverick

By Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

After years of delays, Top Gun: Maverick finally flies onto screens better than ever. “Better than ever,” as in, possibly greater than its predecessor in 1986. As a movie that relies naturally on the technological advancements behind the aircraft used in the film, of course the Top Gun series progresses to new literal and figurative heights in its highly anticipated sequel. The film perfectly evokes a sense of nostalgia, without getting distracted by the past. In addition, it gives us a lot to focus on in the runway ahead. Tom Cruise promised if he ever made a Top Gun sequel, the flying of F/A-18 aircrafts (the primary aircraft used in the film) would be completely real. Mr. Cruise completely delivered on that promise to new boundaries the viewers aren’t ready for.

Following the events from Top Gun in 1986, Top Gun: Maverick picks up with the iconic characters 36 years later. The story starts with Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) as his career flying planes has slowed down. He no longer works with the Top Gun academy, and helps a local Navy facility test advanced aircraft. When his charisma impedes his judgment (like always), Maverick destroys a highly expensive government aircraft. Soon after, Maverick is given an ultimatum; he can either be grounded by the Navy and never fly again, or he can go back to the Top Gun academy and teach a group of young pilots how to complete a highly dangerous mission. Later he goes toe to toe with his greatest challenge, providing closure to the son of his deceased best friend Goose.

In present day Hollywood, every film is trying to perfect the art of CGI and make it look as real as it could be. The beauty behind Top Gun: Maverick is the actual lack of CGI itself. The film doesn’t need to “look” real, because it already is real. Tom Cruise is known for completing his own stunts, and 100% upped his game by having the entire cast do theirs as well. Every actor playing a pilot went through months of diligent training, learning the ins and outs of flying F/A-18 aircrafts. The amount of effort provided by the actors to master aviation for the film is quite possibly unlike anything any actor has done before.

With a film that consistently performs death-defying stunts, it can be inferred that Top Gun: Maverick is incredibly intense. To add on to the layer of intensity, the film often engages with long action sequences (involving cursing and heavy violence.)  Comedic relief often pops up at random times to lighten mood, which creates a nice blend of thrills and humor. Since a large part of the story is about Maverick’s relationship with the son of his deceased friend Goose, a theme of closure is prominent throughout the film. The film also provides the moral that relationships can be repaired no matter the wall between them.

Top Gun: Maverick soars far past all expectations, really redefining the definition of stunts in present day Hollywood. I give Top Gun: Maverick 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. You can find Top Gun: Maverick flying onto your local theater on May 27, 2022. Buckle up!

Top Gun: Maverick

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Top Gun: Maverick is a high octane, action-packed movie with secret missions, crazy “dogfighting,” and facing your fears. Given the spectacular cinematography, I would highly recommend watching this on the biggest screen possible. And if you really want to capture what it might feel like to fly in a naval fighter jet, watch it in IMAX 4DX, which is what I viewed it in.

The second movie in the Top Gun franchise takes places more 30 years later, and Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is a test pilot for the Navy, that is, until he goes too far and gets grounded. But after his old frenemy, “Iceman” (Val Kilmer), pulls some strings, he doesn’t get discharged and instead teaches a team of twelve of the most skilled pilots – all graduates of Top Gun training school – to go on a high stakes mission to save the country. Because this movie is a sequel to Top Gun, I would recommend seeing that one first, as the characters, their backstories, as well as the plot, are an integral part of this movie.

If you thought the cinematography for the first Top Gun was insane, your mind will be blown during this one. The reason the film looks so realistic is because the actors are actually flying in the planes! The fight scenes are so astonishing to watch as the planes toss, turn, spin and dive. The movie has some serious moments but also has the perfect amount of subtle humor to lighten it a bit. Top Gun: Maverick demonstrates an on-screen presence of diversity with representation from people of all walks of life and ethnicities. The entire cast had strong performances, but my favorite come from Miles Teller (Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw) and Tom Cruise (Pete “Maverick” Mitchell). The beef and chemistry between Miles and Tom feels like it comes from such a real place, which is what makes both of their performances stand out the most.

The messages of Top Gun: Maverick are you need to work as a team to achieve your goals and, sometimes, you need to remember: “don’t think, just do”. This movie has violence, explosions, and death, as well as some profanity. I gained a lot of respect for people who work for the Navy from this movie.

I give Top Gun: Maverick 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults—especially fans of the original movie. It comes out in theaters May 27, 2022.

Top Gun: Maverick

By Miguel C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The breathtaking film Top Gun: Maverick directed by Joseph Kosinski is absolutely stunning, from the actors to the set. It has a beautiful soundtrack by Lorne Balfe including Lady Gaga’s song, “Hold My Hand.” The special effects and the different sounds that go with it make you think you’re actually there. I was definitely on the edge of my seat.  

The story features Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.  With 30 years under his belt as a top Navy aviator, Pete Mitchell is back.  Now he’s training the graduates for a very special and scary assignment in which no one knows if they will return home. Maverick must now confront many of his ghosts and fears, which means there will be sacrifices from those who he chooses to fly. 

Top Gun: Maverick is my official favorite movie—not only is one of the leading characters Tom Cruise, but the original Top Gun film was a phenomenon and number one in the world in 1986. The special effects in this sequel are absolutely everything.  l didn’t feel like I was watching a movie—I felt like I was part of it. The wonderful cast, the camera work, and everything else is very sharp. 

The message of this film is to not always think about the consequences of something, but instead to just do it. Kind of like: Go for it!  Don’t be scared—we have to live our lives to the fullest! Top Gun: Maverick has some sequences of intense action, and some strong language, but otherwise it doesn’t have anything to look out for. This is honestly a really good movie to watch all together with the family, but maybe not with the little ones. 

I give Top Gun: Maverick 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. You can find it in theaters May 27, 2022. 

Keywords: Joseph Kosinski; Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie, Peter Craig, Justin Marks, Jim Cash, Jack Epps, Jr., Jerry Bruckheimer, Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie, David Ellison, Tommy Harper, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, Chad Oman, Mike Stenson, Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Charles Parnell, Bashir Salahuddin, Monica Barbaro, Jay Ellis, Danny Ramirez, Greg Tarzan Davis, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer


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