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Don Taylor
Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Katharine Ross
Writing Credits:
David Ambrose, Gerry Davis, Thomas Hunter, Peter Powell

A modern aircraft carrier is thrown back in time to 1941 near Hawaii, just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Dolby Vision
English Dolby Atmos
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
French DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $59.95
Release Date: 5/25/2021

• Audio Commentary with Director of Photography Victor J. Kemper
• “Lloyd Kaufman Goes Hollywood” Featurette
• “Starring the Jolly Rogers” Featurette
• Poster & Still Galleries
• 3 Trailers
• 3 TV Spots
• Blu-Ray Copy
• CD Soundtrack
• Booklet


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Final Countdown [4K UHD] (1980)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 12, 2021)

Because I was 13 in 1980, I watched a lot of action and sci-fi movies. So why do I maintain zero memory of The Final Countdown?

I don’t know, but this 2021 4K UHD release became my initial screening of the film. On December 6, 1980, the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz patrols the Pacific Ocean.

As the craft cruises this territory, a mysterious storm strikes. This affects the Nimitz in a wholly unforeseen manner, as it sends the vessel back in time.

And not to any old day, but to December 6 1941, mere hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The crew of the Nimitz debates whether to intervene and change the past or to allow events to follow their prior course.

Again: why the heck didn’t I see Countdown more than 40 years ago? That plot synopsis makes it sound good to 53-year-old me, and I imagine 13-year-old me would’ve embraced it as well.

My operating theory will have to be “because Countdown kind of flopped”. With a US gross of only $16 million, it landed in a less than impression 42nd place for the year – not too hot for a flick with potential blockbuster aspirations.

Well, better late than never, though I can’t claim Countdown makes me sad it took me more than four decades to finally see it. While an interesting movie at times, it doesn’t exist as some kind of lost classic.

Really, the film’s premise acts as its strongest element. It creates a fun “what if?” tale that comes with a slew of intriguing possibilities.

Countdown eventually explores these, though I emphasize that “eventually”, as the film takes its own sweet time to get to the meat of the matter. Perhaps the pace seemed less slow 41 years ago, but the film really does feel like it delays the “big reveal” longer than necessary.

Some of my minor annoyance stems from my impression that Countdown stalls more to fill time than to satisfy narrative needs. Yes, it makes sense that the characters would find it difficult to swallow the reality of their ludicrous situation, and to some degree, I appreciate the fact they don’t immediately accept the circumstances. Too often, people stuck in fantasy tales barely question the lunacy, so I like that the sailors stay befuddled for a moderate stretch.

Still, this doesn’t make for the most compelling storytelling, as it really does feel like the filmmakers postpone the characters’ acceptance longer than it should. Because we know where the tale will head, this frustrates he viewer.

Matters improve once we get halfway into the film and the crew of the Nimitz tries to deal with their circumstances, and that’s when the narrative begins to perk to life – for a while, at least. Rather than fully embrace the philosophical dimensions of their situation, Countdown only sporadically digs into these discussions and ramifications.

Instead, Countdown pretty rapidly remembers that it wants to give us a summer blockbuster and it turns to action - fairly superfluous, unnecessary action. I won’t spill any beans, but the story diverges into some violence and melodrama that tend to distract from the more intriguing parts.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

The Final Countdown appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Though it showed the movie’s vintage, this Dolby Vision release nonetheless became a pretty solid presentation.

Sharpness usually fared well, though not entirely, as occasional instances of slightly soft shots materialized. Nonetheless, most of the movie boasted nice accuracy and delineation.

Both jagged edges and moiré effects failed to mar the image, and I saw no signs of edge haloes. With a natural layer of grain, I suspect no problematic noise reduction, but I did see a smattering of small specks. The image also came with more obvious defects when it used some stock WWII footage, but I didn’t hold those against the transfer.

Colors opted for a nature palette that came across well. The tones usually felt vibrant and full, and the disc’s HDR gave the hues added punch and impact.

Blacks felt deep and dense, while shadows offered fairly good clarity, though a few interiors could seem a smidgen thick. HDR brought power to whites and contrast. Despite some occasional distractions, this remained a pretty appealing image overall.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the movie’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack worked very well. Remixed from the original Dolby Surround audio, the Atmos version opened up the material in a satisfying manner.

The best elements related to the use of military aircraft, as those components zoomed around the room in a vivid, lively way. Other aspects of the track felt less memorable, but the audio still brought a good sense of place and space, with nice stereo music and various localized elements.

Audio quality showed its age but still seemed satisfactory. Lines could feel a bit thin or muffled, but dialogue remained easily intelligible and lacked edginess or other issues.

Music offered nice range and breadth, while effects boasted strong punch and dimensionality, with taut low-end. A few effects could seem slightly rough, but they still worked nicely given their age. Overall, I felt pleased with this nice remix.

As we shift to extras, we begin with an audio commentary from director of photography Victor J. Kemper. Along with moderator David Gregory, he provides a running, screen-specific look at his experiences during the shoot and other aspects of his career.

For the film’s first half, Kemper gives us a somewhat spotty discussion, damaged partly due to his occasional memory lapses. These don’t seem extreme, but they mean that the listener will find it more difficult to trust his statements when we recognize a few erroneous remarks.

The track improves in the second half because Kemper tends to talk more about filmmaking in general and less about Countdown itself. He also offers some intriguing notes about working on an aircraft carrier. These allow the commentary to become a decent affair, even some parts of it create issues.

Two featurettes follow, and Lloyd Kaufman Goes Hollywood spans 14 minutes, four seconds and offers a conversation with associate producer Kaufman. The co-founder of Troma, Kaufman took on other gigs to pay the bills, and that led to his work on Countdown.

Kaufman discusses aspects of his involvement with the film and his experiences. Kaufman brings us a good collection of memories and notes.

Starring the Jolly Rogers runs 31 minutes, 18 seconds and features US Navy pilots Cmdr. Emory W. Brown (Ret.), James W. Huston, Brian Tyndall, Alan Mullen, Capt. Richard Farrell (Ret.), and William McCluskey.

The pilots discuss their experiences in the Navy as well as their participation in Countdown. Their wide-eyed view of Hollywood offers a fun perspective, and we get a good overall look at their work on the movie.

A mix of advertising materials ensues. We find three trailers and three TV spots.

The disc ends with eight Poster and Still Galleries. These cover “Posters’ (28 images), “Advertising Materials” (8), “Japanese Souvenir Program” (29), “Lobby Cards” (58), “Stills” (13), “Behind the Scenes” (75), “Video” (38) and “Miscellaneous” (18). All these add up to a nice collection of elements.

A second disc brings a Blu-ray copy of Countdown. It includes all the same extras as the 4K.

Note that this Blu-ray boasts the 2021 remaster found on the 4K, so it doesn’t simply duplicate the previous release of Countdown. As far as I can tell, Blue Underground doesn’t offer this 2021 Blu-ray on its own. If that changes, I’ll review the Blu-ray as a separate release.

A third disc provides a CD soundtrack for Countdown. It lasts 53 minutes and adds a nice bonus for fans.

Finally, the package concludes with a booklet. It presents photos, credits and the “Zero Pilot Journal”, a look at the stunt flights done for the film. The booklet finishes the set on a positive note.

Given a strong science-fiction premise, The Final Countdown comes with enough juice to make it generally compelling. However, it doesn’t live up to its promise, so it becomes a decent but erratic adventure. The 4K UHD offers pretty good picture and audio along with a nice set of bonus features. The movie seems erratic, but it gets a good rendition on 4K UHD.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.25 Stars Number of Votes: 4
0 3:
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main