Published on September 22nd, 2008 | by Chris4
The Final Countdown (1980)
Awww, come on. If you were alive in the 1980's you've seen The Final Countdown. It was on TV like every other weekend on one of the big cable networks. And you watched it. Every time. Because it was cool.
You know what? It still is. Maybe its just the nostalgia factor but I still like this movie.
In the biggest "what if" scenario that's ever existed, the carrier USS Nimitz gets sent back in time to the day before Pearl Harbor, and has to contend with the decision to stand idly by while Pearl Harbor is attacked, or to interefere and change history forever.
Just in case you're one of the four people who hasn't ever seen it, I won't spoil the outcome. But I still have to rave about the movie. Sure its chock full of 1980-isms. Semi cheap production, bad special effects and some corny writing, but an all star cast and some unfettered access to the carrier and its crew and planes more than make up for it all.
I think from the sci-fi angle it also plays out well as a good "time travel movie." The moral dilemma of "do we interfere" coupled with a bit of philosophy on the order of "is history changable" really stop and make you think a bit. And it does it without the usual Star Trek-ish pseudo-science and made-up plot devices. It -just happened- and they don't even attempt to explain it. Good, it doesn't require explaining! The fact that everybody can't even comprehend whats happened furthers the believability of it all.
What if their actions had saved the congressman? Would the world as we know it cease to exist? If the Nimitz wiped out the Japanese fleet before the invasion, would things have unfolded any differently? The more you look back on the events around WWII, the more you realize that it couldn't have happened any other way. Almost like it had to happen. I think this picture puts those feelings down in a very concrete way.
Of course, it wouldn't be a decent 1980's war movie if you didn't throw in the Russian "Cold War" angle. That's what they all think it is at first, some sort of Russian nuclear strike. A healthy bit of paranoia can go a long way.... Kind of funny in a way when you think of it now, but at the time, the threat was still considered very real.
There's a few tongue-in-cheek bits of comedy, such as when the rescued Zero pilot (Soon Teck-Oh) practically leaves his jaw on the deck as he's brought on board the carrier.
Couple that with star power such as Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen, and you've got a really underrated picture that could have been better, but not much.
And the ending? Once you've seen it, it all makes sense. The Final Countdown will remain one of my "cult favorites" just because, hey, its still cool!
Summary: The Final Countdown will remain one of my "cult favorites" just because, hey, its still cool!