Of all the things that Top Gun: Maverick has to offer, a treat for aviation and action enthusiasts alike is undoubtedly at the forefront. From the actual stunts that were pulled off by Tom Cruise to the heavy visual effects, everything made it to the news. Although such films with higher star and production value find it easy to receive the appreciation they deserve in terms of technicality, aviation films have always had an audience of their own who are passionate about flying and the field.
Here is a list of ten films to watch before you watch Top Gun: Maverick
1. Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965)
There are very few things that well written comedies can’t accurately reflect. This 1965 film revolves around an air race hosted by a British press owner. The film is also pleasurably educational in its study of the early days of aviation. It uses satire to expose the craze that the field managed to generate among the common population.
2. Sully (2016)
No matter what kind of list it is, Tom Hanks finds a way to sneak into it. After playing a timid, vulnerable man in The Terminal (2004), he leaps to the other end to play Captain Chelsea who leads an emergency landing into the Hudson River when the flight gets hit by a bunch of birds. Apart from high production values, memorable performances and intense drama make this film a must-watch.
3. Flying the Feathered Edge (2014)
Leaning toward a historical documentary, Flying the feathered edge covers the personal and professional life of Robert Hoover, a renowned experimental test pilot. The film features an ensemble cast and does a great job building the world and the characters that are at the center of the plot. Watch out for Harrison Ford’s performance as Rob.
4. Airplane! (1980)
Another comedy, Airplane! explores the world of surreal humor and parody to comment on relationships, fears, and mental health towards the end of the twentieth century. The film borrows major plots and central characters from the 1957 film Zero Hour! and Airport(1975).
5. The Aviator (2004)
Of course, it takes Scorcese to make a genre like a biopic as engaging as this one. Starring Leonardo di Caprio, the film follows the life of Howard Hughes, a visionary who transformed the field of aviation. Elements of mental illness add great depth to a story that gets fairly personal as the narrative progresses. It’s a must-watch for drama lovers and aviation enthusiasts alike.
6. Hell’s Angels (1930)
When The Aviator is on the list, Hell’s Angels is what must follow. Directed by an aviation legend, Howard Hughes himself, the movie follows the story of two brothers who were part of the British Royal Flying Corps during World War 1. Advertised as “Howard Hughes’ thrilling multi-million dollar air spectacle”, the movie still remains to be a favorite among aviation enthusiasts.
7. The High and the Mighty
When the engine dies, Dan announces a crash landing and all those with lives at stake contemplate their existence. A rooted background score and splendid performances make the movie about so much more than just aviation. Despite the multiplicity of subjects, the film is engaging and consistent for the most part.
Another movie on the first world war, Wings follows characters with great love for fighter planes and the things they sacrifice for their love. The movie leads up to a plot in the first world war but for the most part, stays true to its characters and is driven by them.
9. 12 o’clock high
This is rather a TV series that manages to expose the tension and adrenaline that goes into the profession. Revolving around a man pressured by the responsibility of having to succeed an accomplished AirForce personnel, it does not need you to be an aviation enthusiast to be loved.
10. One Six Right: The Romance of Flying
This indie documentary gets most things right when it comes to detailed observations as well as general comments on the field of aviation. As far as my love for good documentaries goes, this finds a special place in my heart for how passionate it is about the subjects it deals with.
The Movie Culture Synopsis
As most would assume, the subject of aviation is not recent in the history of cinema. Filmmakers who have wished to push boundaries have been making films about flying long before the advent of visual effects. Most of the recommended films, in fact, are ones from quite some time ago.
Like action, aviation too is a subject that is highly cinematic. It’s one of those things that could be romanticized exponentially and also shown grittily, both in an engaging way. It appeals universally and can be experimented with. While our obsession with bigger stars in action and aviation movies makes sense, considering the culture we live in, sometimes, purely technical brilliance makes even the most limitedly budgeted films excellent.
Ever since the pandemic, aviation as a subject also displays great scope in bringing audiences, families, and film lovers alike, back into the theatres for an experience rather than an at-home watch.
Top Gun: Maverick is now out in theatres. Go catch the film on the screens near you.