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Top Gun fans almost in tears after 'emotional' preview of Maverick in Birmingham

Birmingham Mail logo Birmingham Mail 20/05/2022 Graham Young

Once bitten, twice fly! That's the motto for Brummie recreational pilots Mike 'Maverick' Barnett and Robert 'Iceman' Emerson who so couldn't wait to see the regional premiere of the year's hottest movie Top Gun: Maverick they arrived dressed for action themselves. Having now seen it once, the two new friends can't wait to get strapped in to F18 fighter jet again for a second mission.

The pair had never met before but after posing for pictures together outside of IMAX Cineworld Broad Street for the film's regional premiere six days before it goes on release, they agreed to act out their reviews on camera for BirminghamLive as soon as the movie had finished.

Both men had got dressed up as their favourite characters - in Mike's case that was as Tom Cruise who plays Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell in the movies. As for Robert, he chose to be Val Kilmer's Iceman character, Tom Kazansky if only because "everyone else usually wants to be 'Maverick'."

Read more: Risky Business? Tom Cruise downs TWO chicken tikkas with extra spices at Birmingham curry house Asha's

You can watch them both responding to orders in the above video which was shot beneath Cineworld's giant, illuminated 'star' logo in the upstairs foyer of the 12-screen multiplex close to the IMAX screen.

Long delayed by Covid, Top Gun: Maverick (12A) goes on general release from Wednesday, May 26. The wait for the whole world to see it on the big screen where it so clearly belongs is nearly over...

Top Gun fans Mike 'Maverick' Barnett from Bournville and Robert 'Iceman' Maverick at IMAX Cineworld Broad Street for the regional premiere of Top Gun: Maverick starring Tom Cruise © Graham Young / BirminghamLive Top Gun fans Mike 'Maverick' Barnett from Bournville and Robert 'Iceman' Maverick at IMAX Cineworld Broad Street for the regional premiere of Top Gun: Maverick starring Tom Cruise

What they said

Mike, who runs his own nostalgia business, Treasures of Time, said: "It was absolutely amazing and I absolutely loved it. Top Gun was my favourite film and I think I've found a new favourite film.

"And as Tom Cruise said, it was definitely a 'love letter' to aviation. An absolutely amazing film which ticked every single box for me."

It was because of Top Gun that Mike ended up joining the Army, later learning to fly and most recently being able to take to the skies in a dual control Spitfire.

Joined at the premiere by partner Teri Handford, Mike added: "I didn't cry, but I got very emotional and I think it will inspire a lot of new aviators."

Haulage contractor Robert Emerson grew up in Birmingham but is now based in Worcester. He, too, loved the original Top Gun so much that it inspired him to learn how to fly.

Dressed as Val Kilmer's Iceman character Tom Kazansky to stand out from a potential crowd of Mavericks, Robert emerged stunned from the screening.

"The film was brilliant and the cinematography was out of this world - more than I expected and I enjoyed every minute of it."

As a pilot himself, did he feel like he'd been in the air? "Yeah, I do... not as many Gs as I pull, but very good."

His favourite part was just to see the old F14 fighter as a reminder of the first film and how technology has since created new generations of jets in its wake.

"That brought back good memories of the first film from 1986."

Top Gun fan Mike 'Maverick' Barnett at IMAX Cineworld Broad Street after watching the regional premiere of Top Gun: Maverick © Graham Young / BirminghamLive Top Gun fan Mike 'Maverick' Barnett at IMAX Cineworld Broad Street after watching the regional premiere of Top Gun: Maverick

What next?

Both men can't wait to see the film on the big screen again and they both wonder how many 'flights' that will ultimately involve.

"I can watch Top Gun literally every week of my life," said Mike. "I've lost count of how many times I've watched the original film. Genuinely I watch it every week, so I'm going to lose count pretty quickly how often I watch this one."

Robert beamed in agreement: "I've already got my 'return' tickets for a week on Saturday,"

Top Gun fans Heather Mayne, in a 'Talk to me Goose' T-shirt with Teri Handford outside IMAX Cineworld Broad Street before watching the regional premiere of Top Gun: Maverick © Graham Young / BirminghamLive Top Gun fans Heather Mayne, in a 'Talk to me Goose' T-shirt with Teri Handford outside IMAX Cineworld Broad Street before watching the regional premiere of Top Gun: Maverick

The premiere

Tickets for the premiere were £20 each and sold in aid of The Film and TV Charity. BirminghamLive promoted a Cineworld competition to win tickets which gave the audience the chance to see the action six days before the general public.

Before the film, fans were able to watch edited highlights of the Royal Premiere in London, attended by leading cast members including Tom Cruise who was introduced to fellow pilot Prince William with wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.

During a brief Q&A interview, Tom said he had left no stone unturned in a bid to make the film's aerial scenes - shot with IMAX cameras following research involving thousands of people - as realistic as they could be.

"I don't like to disappoint," he said of his own scenes shot from inside the cockpit during real flights in planes which can travel at almost 1,200mph."

Last summer, the New York born star earned the nickname 'Two Tikkas Tom' after visiting Asha's for dinner on Newhall Street during the week when Mission: Impossible 7 was being shot in the city, with members of the public in Grand Central's atrium even being able to watch him at work inside Pho from where he would offer the occasional wave.

Top Gun fan Robert 'Iceman' Emerson dressed as Val Kilmer's Tom Kazansky at IMAX Cineworld Broad Street after watching the regional premiere of Top Gun: Maverick © Graham Young / BirminghamLive Top Gun fan Robert 'Iceman' Emerson dressed as Val Kilmer's Tom Kazansky at IMAX Cineworld Broad Street after watching the regional premiere of Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick

The film tells the story of an urgent need to attack a uranium treatment plant in an unnamed country. The site is in the depths of a mountainous region protected by missiles and to hit the plant the jets will have to descend rapidly and come out even more steeply in manoeuvres deemed to be almost impossible to achieve.

Tom is invited back to the Top Gun school, but if he's more of a leader than a teacher will he be on the mission or behind it?

The plot includes Jennifer Connelly playing love interest Penny, referenced in the original film but here fleshing out some aspects of Maverick's back story and, who knows, potentially talking it forwards.

There is also room for Val Kilmer as, whose Iceman character gives the film added heft, as well as a Kawasaki motorcycle in keeping with the original.

Top Gun fan Mike 'Maverick' Barnett from Bournville with partner Teri Handford outside IMAX Cineworld Broad Street ready to watch the regional premiere of Top Gun: Maverick. © Graham Young / BirminghamLive Top Gun fan Mike 'Maverick' Barnett from Bournville with partner Teri Handford outside IMAX Cineworld Broad Street ready to watch the regional premiere of Top Gun: Maverick.

BirminghamLive - first review (spoiler free!)

Just the way Top Gun: Maverick opens will, in the words of the title song by Berlin from the original movie, take your breath away. The pulsing music by Hans Zimmer is remarkably in sync with the edited shots and even the fonts of the opening credits seem to have been engineered like the jet engines we seem to be sitting on top of for much of the ultimate thrill ride, such is the quality of integration of all aspects of this film.

With the war in Ukraine a backdrop to how often Maverick is said to have been used in real life, it will be interesting to see how the new film affects applications to join the military elite in the future and if Lady Ga Ga's song Hold My Hand will also stand the test of time like Berlin's Oscar winner.

Top Gun: Maverick has been brilliantly directed by Joseph Kosinski (TRON: Legacy) with some extraordinary cinematography by Chilean Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi) showing just how beautiful the earth is even in the kind of combat which risks its future.

The film comes coated with the kind of gloss which made the movies of Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer so watchable back in the day (Top Gun, Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop and The Rock) and Maverick is a reminder of the kind of Marvel-beating entertainment we lost to a degree when Don died in 1996 aged just 52.

Bruckheimer went on to produce the ultimately overblown Pirates of the Caribbean series, but Pearl Harbor was the polar opposite of what Top Gun: Maverick now looks like it will become - surely a best picture Oscar contender next year, as in surely all of the leading technical awards.

Top Gun: Maverick is dedicated not to Simpson, but to Tony Scott, the late British British director Tony Scott who made the first film 36 years ago before going to shoot other hits including Crimson Tide and Enemy of the State.

The younger brother of Gladiator and Thelma & Louise director Ridley Scott, was aged just 68 when committed suicide in August 2012 - just two months before Cineworld's former screen six reopened as an IMAX theatre with the James Bond movie Skyfall directed by Sam Mendes.

By then, Scott also given us Crimson Tide and Enemy of the State as well as a series of Denzel Washington films including Unstoppable.

Like Mike Barnett and Robert Emerson, I found Top Gun: Maverick deeply emotional for all of these reasons and more. The film had a standing ovation at Cannes and audience members around the world who have seen it are reported to have cried.

We didn't, but it would be 'mission impossible' not to have a tyre-sized lump in your throat because the spiralling action sequences driving the plot twists - or is the other way around - are truly 'airmazing'?

This is exactly the kind of film that IMAX - and Cineworld's seat-shaking 4DX screen also at Broad Street - were invented for.

Read more: Cineworld Broad Street's 4DX screen is a smash hit with the stars of Doctor Strange

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