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Final Countdown, The (3-Disc Limited Edition/4K UHD + Blu-ray + CD)
Along with a copious amount of John Wayne films, my Dad had movies that he would stop on and put the remote away for, and The Final Countdown was one of those. I texted a picture of the movie in my hands to my brother, letting him know that I was going to review it shortly, and his first reply was ""God, I remember every stitch of that movie." I'm not sure that I do, but I remember the general strokes of the story enough, but I don't think I ever saw it. Or I did and I blocked it out, I don't know.
Thomas Hunter, Peter Powell and David Ambrose wrote the screenplay that Don Taylor directs. A systems analyst for the Defense Department (Martin Sheen, Apocalypse Now) is allowed on board the battleship USS Nimitz, commanded by Captain Matt Yelland (Kirk Douglas, Spartacus). They discover some surprisingly stormy weather, and when they come out on the other side, not only do they not know where they are, but they don't know WHEN they are, which is scarier than everything else!
I remember when the first Apocalypse Now came out, and how it dealt with things that changed time and history. What I'd forgotten or memory holed was how The Final Countdown attempts to get into the discussion of the impacts of changing historical events and perhaps changing your own history in the process. And handles it very well, given the nature of the event they're examining. Tossing Charles Durning, (Tootsie) and Katherine Ross (Donnie Darko) into the mix provides a human element to the discussion which elevates it. As for James Farantino, who plays the Nimitz pilot? I was never much of a fan, but his supporting contribution is admirable.
There's a small bit of humor for me in knowing that Martin Sheen is playing someone associated with the Defense Department going into a mystical journey with a senior officer (portrayed by a cinematic icon of yesteryear) one more time, but he provides a Jack Ryan-ish bent to the story when it needs it, and Douglas' head of the Nimitz (his son Peter was a producer on the film) provides an earnestness and gravitas to things. The dive into the consequences of changing history was fascinating, even if the movie in general is relatively adequate.
Through the years, The Final Countdown has had a resurgence on video and studios like Blue Underground release new versions of it periodically a la the Evil Dead films. I can understand the reason for the allure because it's a mix of sci-fi and Navy warship stuff, which is kind of a hanging curve over the plate for young boys and boys that grow up to be Dads I guess. For films that generally aren't good to me but popular, I treat them like jam bands; they're not my cup of tea, but I respect the accumulated popular following.The UHD:
There was a new remastering of The Final Countdown utilizing the original camera negative, and the results are stellar. Image detail in hair and faces is sharp, colors pop on screen and film grain is present through most of the film. There was minor haloing (and I noticed some at the bottom edge of the screen which was persistent more than most), but overall the HDR presentation of it is superb.The Sound:
There is a Dolby Atmos track along with a DTS-HD MA track, and I went for the latter and was impressed with how it turned out, because the opening scenes include a fighter jet taking off and you can almost feel it in your chest. Dialogue is consistent and the music sounds broader than expected. There is a gentle immersion in things like the dogfight and sea rescue sequences, but you still get some of the hollow effects noises surrounding the wormhole. So it stays faithful to the source while surprising in the process.The Extras:
The extras from the 2008 release are all here; Director of Photography Victor Kemper shares his thoughts on working on the film, with occasional shot recollection and breakdown, and some thoughts on working with the cast, crew and the Navy. It's a nice inclusion, but is a little lean on information. "Lloyd Kaufman Goes Hollywood" (14:04) is a chat with the production assistant who became President of Troma pictures, and he gets into some stories about the cast and crew and showing off the memorabilia he got from the film, in what's a fun yet brief piece. "Starring the Jolly Rogers" (31:18) interviews the pilots from the ship who worked on the film, and they discuss their time on the ship, recalling life on an aircraft carrier, and some of the challenges and anecdotes they had when flying for the film in a fun chat. 3 trailers (7:52), 3 TV spots (1:30) and a stills gallery follow. This package includes the film's soundtrack on a third disc (next to the Blu-ray and UHD), along with a 20-page booklet, reversible cover and a lenticular cover on the cardboard sleeve if you get the first release of the film.Final Thoughts:
If you're able to double-dip for the cover and transfer then The Final Countdown is an easy choice; if not, the transfer is strong and the package is probably as exhaustive as we'll get if you're a fan for the film. Technically the UHD looks and sounds better than it may have a right to be, and the bonus material is good, not too mind-blowing. Definitely worth checking out if you've heard about it but not seen it.