The Final Countdown (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

The U.S.S Nimitz is an important piece of the United States defense forces, a powerful nuclear aircraft carrier that serves as a cornerstone of sorts. As such, an inspector from the Defense Department named Warren Lasky (Martin Sheen) has been tasked to look over the entire ship in great detail. He is to find potential problems, generate solutions, and make sure the Nimitz is as efficient as possible. The ship’s captain doesn’t care for such an inspection, but no one has much time to complain, as the crew finds itself in a most unusual situation. A strange electrical storm unfolds and the ship is caught inside the chaos, but when things settle down, they’ve been sent back in time. Without explanation, the ship has arrived on December 6, 1941, which happens to be the day before the Pearl Harbor attack. Even in such jarring conditions, the crew has to decide whether to change the course of history, but will either decision have consequences?

The concept here is excellent, a premise that has immense potential. I know it sounds like an Art Bell episode, but The Final Countdown is much better than you might assume. The writing here is just superb, this is sci/fi in premise, but the execution is on par with high level dramas, it is that good. The writers take the great concept and let it unfold in natural, believable ways, so we’re always well informed and all of the turns seem plausible. There is good depth to the writing also, thanks to realistic characters and some great moments that actually make the audience think. The performances are solid across the board, with Martin Sheen, Kirk Douglas, and Charles Durning at the forefront. In the end, The Final Countdown is a wonderful experience, a great concept that is explored in great style. This Blu-ray release looks and sounds better than the DVD, but the margin of improvement in terms of visuals isn’t as wide as I hoped. I would recommend a rental to compare for yourself, then decide if the upgrade is warranted. The movie itself however is recommended without hesitation.

Video: How does it look?

The Final Countdown is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This transfer is a minor improvement over the DVD, but wasn’t up to the level I hoped. The print is still worn, which means grain, marks, and debris, but I doubt we’ll see a full restoration on this title in the near future. Some scenes look good and show off solid depth, while others come off as overly soft, to the point they almost look like a VHS release. I knew this wouldn’t rank with the elite level transfers, but I hoped for better than this. As far as an upgrade, that depends on how important a small boost in the visuals is to you.

Audio: How does it sound?

This disc houses both DTS and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtracks, but the material doesn’t do much with the new remixes. The audio sounds fine, but it never pushes these tracks to do much past the basics. The surround use is passable, with more power and presence than found on the DVD, but neither soundtrack is that boisterous. The music sounds good, but thin at times, while dialogue is clean and clear for the most part. So not an explosive mix, but a solid and improved audio experience. This disc also includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX option, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Up first is an audio commentary track with director of photography Victor J. Kemper, who is interviewed in the track by a moderator, who tries to keep things on track. The session is more than decent, but never delves into much beyond some basic production stories and such. This disc also includes an interview with Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman, a piece on The Jolly Rogers F-14 Fighter Squadron, some television spots, and the film’s theatrical trailers.

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