The return of Tom Cruise as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick sets the stage for the best movie I’ve seen so far this year with a budget north of 100 million. Granted, I haven’t been able to catch the triple-directed (Chen Kaige, Tsui Hark, and Dante Lam) The Battle at Lake Changjin, which I’m going to go ahead and count as a 2022 release, but Maverick has a safe lead for now.
And with a budget of 152 million– a whole 48 million shy of the most recent addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe— Joseph Kosinski’s Maverick squeezes the value out of every penny and then some. The efforts of cinematographer Claudio Miranda stand out all the more with 13 million of that $150,000,000 going to Cruise. It’s the little things that add up. Whereas in most Marvel movies blacks lean a bit more toward grey, Miranda’s blacks are cold and dark—helping add contrast and force to the use of the color. This isn’t to dog on the MCU (though that’s fine too), but the comparison is helpful because of the way Marvel has defined the look of the modern blockbuster. Top Gun: Maverick just looks better.
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