Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 23rd, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1980
Director: Don Taylor
Writer: David Ambrose, Thomas Hunter, Gerry Davis, Peter Powell
Cast: Martin Sheen, Kirk Douglas, Charles Durning, James Farentino, Katherine Ross, Ron O’Neal
BluRay released: November 4th, 2008
Approximate running time: 103 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 English, DTS HD 7.1 English, DD-EX 5.1 English
Subtitles: English (SDH), Spanish, French
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $34.95
Synopsis: The U.S.S. Nimitz a nuclear powered aircraft travels through a fold in time while on maneuvers in the Pacific Ocean. They end up just outside of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. Three hours before the Japanese’s planned attack. The captain of the U.S.S. Nimitz is faced with a decision that could alter history. Should they intervene and save the massacre at Pearl Harbor from happening or should they let everything unfold as it originally happened nearly forty years before?
The Final Countdown was directed by Don Taylor an actor who transitioned into directing. Some of his notable films include The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) and Omen II: Damien. The Final Countdown like the majority of Don Taylor’s work as a director is workman like and bears little if any directorial personal style. If anyone should get the credit for the look of this film it is cinematographer Victor J. Kemper whose diverse resume as a cinematographer includes Dog Day Afternoon, Slap Shot, Eyes of Laura Mars, The Jerk, Mr. Mom, National Lampoon’s Vacation and Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Visually the moments featuring the planes are incredible.
The film features an interesting premise about altering history. The bulk of the plot revolves around the various characters and their inner struggle with what is going on. They also need to be careful in what they choose to do since every decision they make could have dire consequences in the future. One of the film’s subplots is about a senator who was front runner as President Franklin Roosevelt’s running mate. Now alive this senator and his actions could mean the end of mankind. The story ending does feel abrupt and the big reveal of who Martin Sheen’s character Warren Lasky is working for is not that surprising.
The cast is virtual whose who that includes Kirk Douglas (Spartacus), Katharine Ross (The Stepford Wives), James Farentino (Dead & Buried), Ron O’Neal (Super Fly), Charles Durning (When a Stranger Calls) and the aforementioned Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now). In e brief minor role is Troma president Lloyd Kaufman who also worked on the film as an associate producer. All around the cast all give strong performances in their respective roles. Ultimately The Final Countdown is a riveting story about the dangers of altering history.
The Final Countdown comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. That presents the film in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Colors look robust and nicely saturated. Grain looks natural and black levels look strong. There is a tremendous amount of detail in every frame and edge enhancement is minimal.
This release comes with three audio options Dolby TrueHD 7.1, DTS HD 7.1 and DD-EX 5.1. All three audio mixes are presented in English. Three subtitle options have been included English, Spanish and French. You really can’t go wrong with any of the three audio mixes as they all sound clean, robust and crystal clear throughout.
Extras for this release include a teaser, two trailers and three TV spots. Other extras include a thirty one minute documentary titled “Starring the Jolly Rogers: Interviews with the Jolly Rogers F-14 Fighter Squadron”. This documentary consists of interviews with several pilots who worked on The Final Countdown. Also included with this release is a fourteen minute interview with Lloyd Kaufman who frankly recounts his experiences working on the film. This is the best extra on this release. Rounding out the extras is an audio commentary with Director of Photography Victor J. Kemper and this commentary is moderated by David Gregory. Overall this is an informative commentary that does a thorough job covering the production aspects of the film. All the extras are presented in a 480i anamorphic widescreen except the TV spots which are presented in a 480i 1.33:1 ratio. A few extras like a poster & stills gallery, a Kirk Douglas bio and a DVD Rom text extra titled “Zero Pilot Journal”, have not been included with this release. Overall Blue underground gives The Final Countdown a strong audio/video presentation that fully takes advantage of the BluRay format.