Maverick ‘is awesome. Here’s your guide to the summer sequel

Believe the hype. “Top Gun: Maverick” rules.

The long-delayed sequel – it was filmed back in 2018, and has been in a holding pattern ever since – finally hit preview audiences this week, and it’s a thrilling, pulse-pounding, old-school blockbuster experience, a more-than- worthy follow-up to the 1986 classic.

(That 36-year gap puts it high on the list of longest time elapsed between a movie and its follow-up, up there with the 35 years between “Blade Runner” and “Blade Runner 2049,” but not as much as the 54 years between “Mary Poppins” and “Mary Poppins Returns.” And that’s not counting the 64 years between “Bambi” and the straight-to-video “Bambi II,” because who remembers the straight-to-video “Bambi II?” )

Fans, who may have been worried about the mere notion of a “Top Gun” sequel, can rest easy. “Maverick’s” got the goods, and then some.

In lieu of a proper review – that is coming the week of May 23, ahead of the film’s May 27 release – here’s a quickie guide to what to expect from this year’s most anticipated * sequel.

*most anticipated if you’re Gen X or an earlyate Millennial who has long felt a need, a need for speed.

Wait, it’s good?

So good. Don’t doubt Tom Cruise: he produced the movie and shepherded this thing like it was his baby, which in many ways it is. It’s him revisiting his most iconic character (sorry, Ethan Hunt), the cocky pilot who does things his way even to the detriment of his career. Cruise, who turns 60 this summer, looks magnificent, and still carries himself like the 24-year-old who lit up the screen in the first “Top Gun.” And he still hasn’t lost that lovin ‘feeling.

Tom Cruise in "Top Gun: Maverick."

Are there callbacks to the original?

Too many to count. You’ll hear Harold Faltermeyer’s “Top Gun” theme. You’ll hear Kenny Loggins’ ‘Danger Zone.’ You’ll get the on-screen text introduction explaining what Top Gun is. And that’s just in the first three minutes. “Top Gun: Maverick” is a bounty of references to the original, not in an ironic or postmodern way, just in a way that good pals like to grab a beer and talk about the old times. “Top Gun” embraces the old times in a fun, fresh way.

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