The Final Countdown
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Far-fetched but plausable, this is a story about an aircraft carrier traveling backwards in time, just before the start of WWII. The USS Nimitz is cruising peacefully 200 miles off Pearl Harbor when it is suddenly caught in a massive electrical storm and almost immediately the sea becomes calm again. The reconnaissance photos taken after the storm plots their position and indicates a blow-up of Pearl Harbour, circa 1941 with the battleship Arizona visible in the photo. This seems impossible. It dawns on the officers that somehow they have traveled back in time. The crew must now decide whether or not to change the course of history.
With a tantalizing "what-if?" scenario and a respectable cast of Hollywood veterans, The Final Countdown plays like a grand-scale episode of The Twilight Zone. It's really no more than that, and time-travel movies have grown far more sophisticated since this popular 1980 release, but there's still some life remaining in the movie's basic premise: What if a modern-era Navy aircraft carrier--in this case the real-life nuclear-powered U.S.S. Nimitz--was caught in an anomalous storm and thrust 40 years backwards in time to the eve of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor? Will the ship's commander (Kirk Douglas) interfere with history? Will the visiting systems analyst (Martin Sheen) convince him not to? Will a rescued senator from 1941 (Charles Durning) play an unexpected role in the future of American politics? Veteran TV director Don Taylor doesn't do much with the ideas posed by this potentially intriguing plot; he seems more interested in satisfying aviation buffs with loving footage of F-14 "Jolly Roger" fighter jets, made possible by the Navy's generous cooperation. That makes The Final Countdown a better Navy film than a full-fledged time-travel fantasy, but there's a nice little twist at the end, and the plot holes are easy to ignore. James Cameron would've done it better, but this popcorn thriller makes an enjoyable double-bill with The Philadelphia Experiment. --Jeff Shannon
- High-Definition transfer from original camera negative
- Audio Commentary with Director of Photography Victor J. Kemper
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spots
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That's the premise of "The Final Countdown," a 1980 science fiction film starring Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, James Farentino, Charles Durning, and Katharine Ross. Sound far-fetched? I remember thinking so the first time I watched it - on TV - many years ago. I also remember thinking at the time that the movie was actually pretty good.
I recently purchased a DVD copy of "The Final Countdown" because wanted to see if it would still seem "pretty good" to me 30 years after I first watched it.
Our story opens in the year 1980. The aircraft carrier "USS Nimitz," operating off the coast of Hawaii, is suddenly caught in a strange electrical vortex that transports the ship and its entire crew back in time to December 6, 1941 - the day before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Captain Yelland, the ship's commanding officer knows his history, and what that portends for the future. He and his crew face a terrible dilemma: should they take steps to stop the impending Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, thereby altering history... or, should they let historical events play themselves out, knowing full well what those events mean for the future?
After viewing "The Final Countdown" for the first time in 30 years, I still think it's a "pretty good" movie. It's well written and acted, has good solid production values, and is both thought-provoking and fun to watch.
No modern-day science fiction film should be without world-class special and visual effects. This is one area where "The Final Countdown" was a bit of a disappointment. The scenes showing the electrical vortex engulfing the "USS Nimitz" were definitely substandard, even by 1980 standards - reflecting perhaps the movie's budgetary constraints. Certainly, three years after the release of the visually dazzling "Star Wars," the production team for "The Final Countdown" should have made a stronger effort to make their film more visually appealing. Other special effects were somewhat better. Scenes of fighters taking off from the "Nimitz's" flight deck were excellent, and accurately showed what goes on during aircraft launch operations. The dogfight scenes between the F-14 fighters and Japanese Zeroes were also noteworthy.
Three decades ago, I first watched "The Final Countdown" and thought it was a "pretty good" movie. That was at a time when hi-tech special effects were in their infancy, and only a very few science fiction/fantasy films were being produced. Now, even with stunning special effects the norm and a plethora of science fiction/fantasy films being released every year, "The Final Countdown" manages to hold its own. It's still a "pretty good" movie. Enjoy!
Come on people, this movie was made 37 years ago. Air war was the reality of military conflict so it was only right that Hollywood reflected that. Now its all desert war movies because that's where the potential threat comes from these days.
The aircraft footage you just don't see anymore, the only other movie that did was Top Gun, and it grossed a ridiculous amount of money. This movie has that old movie feel because of the actor lineup, Kirk Douglas is old school. So watch this movie not for the special effects but for the Sci Fi possibility aspect. It was 1980, come on, give it a break.
If you are into military aircraft, this movie will float your boat.
Glad I found it again. If you've never seen it, it'll bug you, especially if you're young, it's an older movie. It has plenty of plot holes if you look, but screw it, throw disbelief out the window and enjoy the ride. Trust me.