The Final Countdown
Action / Sci-Fi
The Final Countdown
Action / Sci-Fi
In 1980, the assistant of the Department of Defense Warren Lasky is assigned by his mysterious chief Richard Tideman to visit the aircraft carrier USS Nimtz commanded by Capt. Matthew Yelland as an observer of the routines. Lasky finds that Wing Commander Richard T. Owens has a great knowledge of history. Out of the blue, the vessel faces a weird storm and they find that they have traveled back in time to the eve of the attack of Pearl Harbor on 06 December 1941. When the two Japanese Zeros attack the motorboat of Senator Samuel Chapman, the crew of the Nimitz rescues the senator and his assistant Laurel Scott. But sooner Lasky learns that the senator had disappeared on that day and Capt. Matthew Yelland is planning to attack the Japanese. Will these actions create a time paradox?
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Don't waste your time
I know the premise on Imdb will sound irresistible to you: "A modern aircraft carrier is thrown back in time to 1941 near Hawaii, just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor." It did to me, too-that's why I rented The Final Countdown! However, you can feel free to save your time and skip this one. It's utterly pointless.
The exposition is very exciting, and I found my heart was literally racing for the first twenty minutes. Martin Sheen comes aboard the gigantic ship and meets Captain Kirk Douglas and his crew. Once they're in the middle of the ocean, an electric storm surrounds them and they travel back in time. I'm deathly afraid of shipwrecks, drowning, and any other danger involving water, so that's probably why I was so frightened during the opening scenes. However, the rest of the movie is incredibly boring. It takes a ridiculously long time for the characters to even figure out what's happened to them, and what they decide to do about it will most likely infuriate you.
Usually, when everyone in the cast gives wonderful performances, I give credit to the director, who obviously had a magic touch with his actors. In the case of The Final Countdown, I feel forced to blame the director. The cast is clueless, low-key, and acts like they're participating in a dress rehearsal. Katharine Ross's performance made me want to throw something at the television set. She sees a dead body: "Oh, no. . ." She finds her dog she thought had drowned: "Oh, Charlie. . ." I strongly considered the possibility she'd been given a valium before the take, but I won't ask you to sit through the movie to ask if you agree. If the acting or story doesn't make you cringe, John Scott's outrageously epic music will. Watch The Fifth Missile instead; it's much better.
Never Gets Old!
I first saw this during ABC's premiere presentation broadcast (of theatricals) on the ABC Sunday Night Movie around 1982 - 83 when I was eleven and it blew me away!
Decades later, as a Marine Corps veteran when I purchased the special edition DVD, I still marveled at it and watch it every chance I get!
If you are a military and science fiction fan, this is a treat. What's not to like? A modern nuclear powered aircraft carrier (with its air wing and arsenal) getting caught in an unexplained phenomenon (in effect, storm) sending it to the day before the Pearl Harbor attack made a wonderful platform. To paraphrase TV Guide's view of the movie, it was a story reminiscent of "The Twilight Zone."
Kirk Douglas played a convincing Navy Captain, Matt Yelland commanding the U.S.S. Nimitz and her arsenal that was capable of wiping out the Japanese fleet. Rounding off the players are equally convincing roles by James Farentino - CDR Richard "CAG" Owens, the air wing commander; Ron O'Neal - CDR Dan Thurman, the ship's second-in-command; and Martin Sheen - Warren Lasky, a visiting civilian defense contractor. Charles Durning and Katherine Ross play 1941 characters shocked by their time travelers and ship from the future.
Like most stories about time travel, the main characters have to face the main concern about altering the future as they knew it. As one of the characters retorted to another, ". . I don't have your appetite for playing God with the world!" when faced with that prospect. As 1941 friends and enemies come in contact with them, they have to make decisions on how to deal with them to avoid further conflict but at the same time possibly altering the future.
The origins of the storm that sent the Nimitz back to 1941 is never explained, so it is left ambiguous. One can surmise that the Nimitz' travel back in time was a test for Captain Yelland and crew to see what they would do with the modern capabilities of the ship in regards to an historical attack they know is coming.
Awesome aircraft carrier operations courtesy of the United States Navy spliced with science fiction intrigue make this an appealing tale for both military aficionados and science fiction lovers alike.
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A childhood dream come true!
As a Junior high student in the mid seventies, I was a bookworm in the WW2 section of the library. I was particularly enthralled by Pearl Harbor and the Arizona. As my mind wandered as I read the accounts of the treacherous surprise attack, I wished just one of our then state-of-the-art F4 Phantoms could've been there to defend! Imagine my glee when I found a like-minded soul had the same idea and came up with a movie to portray it! I saw the movie several times when it came out. I had a VHS copy, which was lost or worn out. Later, I was able to find a copy on DVD, which was a very poor transfer, the picture of which was worse than the old VHS tape! I was so relieved when it came out on Blu-Ray. Because of the so-called cult following, the BD was remastered and the production was top notch! Loved the bonus features on it too. I watched it again tonight, in remembrance of the just-past 75th Anniversary of the attack. Still got goose bumps when the Tomcats roared past the Zero's, and tears still welled up when the crew rendered honors to port as they passed the Arizona memorial! Great movie!