Why Top Gun 2’s Rotten Tomatoes Score is WAY Better Than The Original

It may be regarded by many as a classic, but Top Gun had a mixed critical reception on release, and many newer critical reviews still pan it, resulting in a Rotten 57 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Reviews from 1986 and more modern reviews seem to agree that most of what happens during the flight sequences is thrilling and the movie has a generally slick aesthetic, but they also agree that characters are weak and everything outside the cockpit is boring. Roger Ebert even said  “Movies like Top Gun are hard to review because the good parts are so good and the bad parts are so relentless. The dogfights are absolutely the best since Clint Eastwood’s electrifying aerial scenes in Firefox. But look out for the scenes where the people talk to one another.”

While the bravado of the pilots and the hyper-masculinity projected throughout the movie, including the iconic volleyball scene, is seen by many as an intentional exercise in hyperbole from director Tony Scott, the reviews written by many detractors don’t seem to appreciate the apparent celebration of ego, seeing the movie as mostly a vapid excuse to showcase good looking movie stars and fighter jets with some classic ’80s music. Many of those exact same attributes are cited by the film’s admirers as its greatest features, although the split in opinion is significant enough to drive Top Gun‘s Rotten Tomatoes score all the way into Rotten territory (although the 60 percent score from Top Critics technically peeks into Fresh territory).

Top Gun: Maverick Almost Has a Perfect Rotten Tomatoes Score

The original Top Gun‘s reviews don’t give it a Fresh Rotten Tomatoes score, but Top Gun: Maverick more than makes up the difference with a nearly-perfect 96 percent score. Tom Cruise’s first outing with director Joseph Kosinski on Oblivion has a 53 percent Rotten Tomatoes score – even lower than Top Gun‘s 57 percent – Top Gun: Maverick clearly fairs far better. The movie is being praised both for its technical achievements as well as thrilling drama and compelling performances from Cruise and the rest of the cast.

It would be easy to dismiss Top Gun‘s poor Rotten Tomatoes reviews as a product of 1986, assuming the movie aged better than critics thought at the time, but the majority of Rotten Tomatoes reviews for the original Top Gun are far more recent, thanks especially to the movie’s Blu-Ray release. While that’s unfortunate for Top Gun, it also means Top Gun: Maverick‘s reviews properly stand out against its predecessor since they’re not only being compared to reviews written over three decades ago.

Why Top Gun: Maverick’s Reviews Are So Much Better

While Top Gun‘s biggest detractors seem to criticize the characters’ ego-centric machismo, Top Gun: Maverick‘s reviews suggest this weakness in the original movie is actually exploited to the benefit of the sequel’s story. In bringing back Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, who has spent the time since the original avoiding any promotions that could ground him, Top Gun: Maverick presents an interesting opportunity to turn Maverick’s legacy on its head by highlighting an apparent lack of growth since the first movie.

Of course, the presence of Miles Teller as Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, the son of Maverick’s former navigator, Lt. Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, presents even more opportunity to dig into the consequences of the original film. As indicated by many reviews claiming Top Gun: Maverick is actually an improvement on the original, the sequel may have actually taken the biggest criticism of the original and turned it into a part of its emotional core. Although F-18 dogfights shot in IMAX and Lady Gaga theme song could certainly also help boost the Rotten Tomatoes score.

Of course, reviews are always subjective, especially when run through the overly simplified distillation of a review aggregator like Rotten Tomatoes, but with the vast majority of critics embracing Top Gun: Maverick, it’s likely most of the audience will agree. Whether or not it’s actually an improvement on the first movie (or if the original even deserves its low Rotten Tomatoes score) is a matter of personal opinion, but the 96 percent Rotten Tomatoes score for Top Gun: Maverick is certainly an encouraging sign for any fans of the original.

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