Yesterday I covered the good time travel films, Primer and Timecrimes. Today I want to cover the guilty pleasure one. The Final Countdown is currently available on instant Netflix.
The Final Countdown (1980) – Rated PG
“What if a 1980s American aircraft carrier (with its modern firepower) time-warped back to Pacific waters just outside Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941? That’s the intriguing premise behind this sci-fi adventure that stars Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen.”
“If the United States falls under attack our job is to defend her in the past, present and future.”
One Line Review: Way too much teasing – for military fetishists only.
The Final Countdown is a guilty pleasure much like Under Siege. The Final Countdown is filmed on the actual aircraft carrier Nimitz. Under Siege was filmed on an actual battleship with the USS Alabama subbing in for the USS Missouri.
For military fetishists, we get to see hook landings, a general quarters call, and a barricade landing among other things. Special effects are primitive and minimalist. The lack of special effects means that all of that wonderful aerial stuntwork is all real. Footage of the Pearl Harbor attack is taken from Tora! Tora! Tora!
The cast is decent. Modern cast members include Kirk Douglas captaining the Nimitz, James Farentino as his CAG and Martin Sheen as a civilian troubleshooter. Ron “Superfly” O’Neal appears as Commander Thurman. 1941 cast members include Katharine Ross as Laurel Scott, Charles Durning as Senator Chapman, and Soon Tek-Oh as Simura. There is nothing wrong with the cast – it’s just that they are somewhat inconsequential. Much of the rest of the cast is filled by the real life crew of The Nimitz.
Unfortunately, much of the running time is taken up with should-we-or-shouldn’t-we-change-history discussions. The music mostly consists of a grating rah-rah score that made me cringe every time it started up. If they ever reboot this property, they’ll likely deep-six the talk and add in all kinds of CGI firefights. Ultimately the Final Countdown comes across as an extended Twilight Zone episode with a large budget.
People Watch: Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman appears as Lt. Commander Kaufman. Producer Peter Douglas (Kirk’s son) appears as Quartermaster.