The Final Countdown is a 1980 war film directed by Don Taylor (Damien: Omen II, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Tom Sawyer, and Escape from the Planet of the Apes). It was written by David Ambrose (Amityville 3-D, The Survivor, Blackout, Year of the Gun, Taffin, and D.A.R.Y.L.), Gerry Davis (Doctor Who, The Hitchhiker, and Doomwatch), Thomas Hunter (The ‘Human’ Factor), and Peter Powell (The ‘Human’ Factor). It was produced by the legendary Lloyd Kaufman (The Toxic Avenger franchise, Nuke Em’ High franchise, Tromeo and Juliet, Father’s Day, Sugar Cookies, Blood Hook, Def by Temptation, Troma’s War, Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D., Terror Firmer, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, Combat Shock, Mother’s Day, and Silent Night, Bloody Night). It was produced with the full cooperation of the United States Navy’s naval aviation branch and the United States Department of Defense. The budget was $12.5 million, it grossed $16.6 at the box office in the states and Canada.
In 1980, the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz is departing Naval Station Pearl Harbor for naval exercises in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The ship takes on a civilian observer Warren Lasky (played by: Martin Sheen from Judas and the Black Messiah, The Dead Zone, The Departed, Badlands, and Apocalypse Now). Lasky is a systems analyst for Tideman Industries working as an efficiency expert for the U.S. Defense Department on the orders of his reclusive boss Mr. Tideman. He is behind the secretive major defense contractor company designed and built the nuclear-powered warship. Once at sea, the Nimitz encounters a mysterious electrically-charged storm-like vortex. Captain Yelland (played by: Kirk Douglas from Eddie Macon’s Run, Greedy, Spartacus, Tough Guys, The Fury, and The Chosen), commander of the aircraft carrier, fears that there may have been a nuclear strike on Hawaii or the continental United States. All breaks loose for Yelland and his crew that includes Cdr. Dan Thurman (played by: Ron O’Neal from Super Fly, Super Fly T.N.T., A Force of One, Red Dawn, Original Gangstas, and Hero and the Terror) and LCdr. Kaufman (played by: Lloyd Kaufman from Rocky I/V, Orgazmo, Slither, Hatchet II, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Sharknado 4, Return to Nuke ‘Em High, and Crank: High Voltage).
The Nimitz rescues survivors from the yacht: prominent U.S. Senator Samuel Chapman (played by: Charles Durning from When a Stranger Calls, Rescue Me, The Hudsucker Proxy, Dick Tracy, The Rosary Murders, and Dog Day Afternoon), his aide Laurel Scott (played by: Katherine Ross from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Graduate, Hellfighters, Donnie Darko, and The Swarm), her dog Charlie and one of the two downed Zero pilots (played by: Soon-Tek Oh from Beverly Hills Ninja, Death Wish 4: The Crackdown, Missing in Action 2: The Beginning, and Steele Justice). Commander Owens (played by: James Farentino from Dead & Buried, Bulletproof, ER, Dynasty, and Blue Thunder), an amateur historian, recognizes Chapman as a politician who could have been Franklin D. Roosevelt’s running mate while visiting the survivors. They must all fight for their survival during this chaos. Who will make it out alive? or Are they all doomed????
The Final Countdown is one of the better war related films in the 80’s, it’s a nice hybrid with the science fiction sub-genre. It does take a little bit to get somewhere but it’s definitely worth the wait plus it has quality character development which I always appreciate. The script delivers on action, suspense, and drama. Once this one picks up, it’s action packed and it’s non stop. It had all kinds of legit planes and government equipment for the production. The finale had a nice twist which added to the madness of this feature. The production design was top notch here. It’s loaded with talent when it comes to the cast that includes Martin Sheen, Kirk Douglas, Ron O’Neal, Charles Durning, James Farentino, Soon-Tek Oh, Katherine Ross, and Lloyd Kaufman. Everyone here was at their highest level when it came acting, it wasn’t really over the top like some others made during the same time. Every time I revisit this one, it still holds up after all these years. It’s a solid time capsule of that period and it has very strong replay value, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Blue Underground! This 2160p (2.39:1) transfer with HDR: Dolby Vision and HDR10 blows away every home video release. It’s a brand new 4K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative. It’s a massive improvement and it’s damn near like seeing it for the very first time. I’ve owned this film in so many different formats over the years and this is the ultimate version, it’s a must own. Blue Underground is killing it when it comes to boutique labels doing UHD home video releases. They keep pumping them out and they all look amazing so far. These are some movies that you would never expect to see this treatment for. It’s loaded with audio options that includes English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, and French: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 on this UHD disc. The sound is also a huge upgrade from the older releases. This one sounds amazing especially during the action here and it delivers a killer boost to your sound system. All of the dialogue is very clean and the music is elevated here. It has English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Blue Underground! It has an archive “Audio Commentary” with director of photography Victor J. Kemper moderated by David Gregory. Lots of solid questions are asked and covered here. He chats about the cast, shooting locations, and his experience on the production. He talks about the visual style and shooting The Final Countdown in great detail here with some interesting stories. This one is a great technical track to dive into if you are curious about that aspect of the production. “Lloyd Kaufman Goes to Hollywood” is a little over 14 minute interview with the producer and actor from The Final Countdown. He chats about his early days and how he got involved with this production. He talks about working with the director and tells some hilarious stories. He says this got made because of Kirk Douglas. He doesn’t hold back here and he is very blunt about the production. He brings up some issues they had and he had to fire some of the staff at one point. He mentions his interactions with the cast and his experience on it. “Starring The Jolly Rogers” is a little over 32 minute interview with Jolly Rogers F-14 Fighter Squad. They chat about their time serving in real life and what they experienced during it. They talk about the skills it takes to operate and do the things captured in this movie. They go over their experience helping and making the feature. Blue Underground went all out when it came to the promotional materials here. It’s loaded with TV Spots, Trailers, and huge Photo Gallery featuring everything that you would want to see from the entire cinematic journey for The Final Countdown. It also includes a limited edition lenticular slipcover, reversible artwork, 20 page collectible booklet, CD for the score/soundtrack, and a blu ray copy of the release. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!