The Final Countdown [Blu-ray 4K]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Blue Underground
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (21st June 2021).
The Film

One common question in regard to time travel is if you could go back in time and kill baby Hitler, would you? Essentially, given the opportunity to play god with life and history to what allegiance would your actions be governed? Let things play out as they historically did, or alter the future forever? – potentially. “The Final Countdown” (1980) poses a similar question to Capt. Yelland (Kirk Douglas) and the men of the USS Nimitz who, due to a freak storm, are thrust back in time to December 6, 1941, a day before one of the most infamous dates in U.S. history when the bombing of Pearl Harbor took place. No one else knows the Japanese fleet is headed in their direction, and although the Nimitz is a lone carrier it has more than enough firepower to severely cripple if not outright decimate the enemy. The potential to save countless lives is literally in the hands of a few people who fiercely debate what actions are to be taken.

This is not a film concerned with building up to a massive battle; this is a tense and passionate conundrum. The situation is further complicated by the appearance of Senator Chapman (Charles Durning), a potential future White House candidate who had originally disappeared on the morning of December 7th yet now he resides with the Nimitz after an intervention on their part. Much like the Butterfly Effect every action by the carrier has the potential to completely alter the future.

Douglas plays a man of strong conviction whose only loyalty lies with the Navy. His battle is to keep his men safe; not to, as he says, worry about a possible future that has yet to occur. Martin Sheen is on board as a Department of Defense overseer who immediately seizes upon the opportunity to drive back the Japanese and prevent a catastrophe. James Farentino is a Commander and part-time historian who knows every intimate detail about what will occur and he uses that knowledge to piecemeal his own version of events to come. What’s great is these men never fight it out or come to blows; these are terse, logical, fantastic discussions dealing with a very real threat in a finite amount of time.

A big part of why this film excels is because the scenario looks authentic. The filmmakers had full use of the USS Nimitz as well as the cooperation of the Navy and, boy, does it ever add a heaping amount of production value to this low-budgeted feature. As Lloyd Kaufman notes in the bonus features, having a name like Kirk Douglas attached to the film opened up numerous doors that otherwise would have remained shut. The ship is pretty much the star of the film and the filmmakers made sure to shoot it from every angle, showing off the intricate interiors as well as the gorgeous views of the sea from within. Playing with the military comes with a price – that being government oversight of the script and how the branches are portrayed – but the upshot is getting to use all of Uncle Sam’s fancy toys.

The Final Countdown may play a bit dry at times but I appreciate director Don Taylor’s more grounded approach to such a fantastical scenario. Douglas, Sheen, and the rest handle their unique situation with aplomb once they have accepted the bizarre reality of their anachronistic appearance in 1941. It could be easy today to imagine an all-guns-blazing approach to the material, with Douglas’ character practically foaming at the mouth to blast the Japanese but instead Taylor dances around the big action and poses something more introspective. This is smart sci-fi, with a capable cast and large-scale visuals, offering a refreshing look at complicated issues.

Video

This is a Blue Underground 4K release and by now buyers should know that distinction practically comes with a guarantee the image you are about to see is immaculate. Sure enough, the 2.40:1 2160p Dolby Vision HDR picture is astonishing, looking so fresh and vibrant and clean you’d never guess it was shot 40 years ago. The only rough spots are inherent because only so much can be done to optical effects and stock footage. Outside of that, this is a flawless image that showcases the kind of depth in every sense that can be achieved with added resolution and a thoughtful HDR pass. Blue Underground continues their perfect streak of 4K video quality.

Audio

With that upgrade in video comes an upgrade in audio, too, with an expected English Dolby Atmos track created for this release and it’s another winner. The film opens with a jet engine roaring and it scorches. There are some solid immersion moments during the air fights. John Scott’s score has plenty of punch and it gets lots of breathing room with the extra channels. There are also English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 mixes, as well as a French DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo track. Subtitles are available in English SDH, French, and Spanish.

Extras

DISC ONE: 4K Ultra HD

There is an audio commentary with Director of Photography Victor J. Kemper.

“Lloyd Kaufman Goes to Hollywood – Interview with Associate Producer Lloyd Kaufman” (SD) is a fun, informative interview that runs for 14 minutes and 4 seconds.

“Starring The Jolly Rogers – Interview with The Jolly Rogers Fighter Squadron” (SD) runs for 31 minutes and 18 seconds.

Theatrical trailers:

- Teaser runs for 1 minute and 50 seconds.
- Trailer #1 runs for 2 minutes and 49 seconds.
- Trailer #2 runs for 3 minutes and 13 seconds.

Three TV Spots, all run for 30 seconds each.

Poster & Still Galleries:

- Posters contains 30 images.
- Advertising Materials contains 10 images.
- Japanese Souvenir Program contains 31 images.
- Lobby Cards contains 60 images.
- Stills contains 15 images.
- Behind-the-Scenes contains 78 images.
- Video contains 40 images.
- Misc. contains 20 images.

DISC TWO: Blu-ray

Contains all of the above bonus features.

DISC THREE: CD Soundtrack

Composer John Scott’s soundtrack is included, containing 23 tracks and over 50 minutes of music.

Packaging

The three-disc set comes housed in a thick clear Blu-ray keepcase, with two discs overlapped and a third behind the front cover panel. The cover art is reversible. A lenticular slipcover is included on the limited edition. The release also includes a 10-page booklet.

Overall

Blue Underground releases are exactly the type collectors crave and this is yet another fantastic package I highly recommend. The 4K video quality is unrivaled and the efforts made to retain bonus features, and even place them on the 4K disc, show the kind of detail and care that goes into these editions.

The Film: B Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: A- Overall: A

 


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