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The Final Countdown is not a special-effects laden time-travel piece like Back to the Future (1985) or any such ilk and, indeed, the pivotal "freak electrical storm" is not, visually, very convincing. Nor is it particularly heavy-handed in glamorizing the military, although the members of the Jolly Rogers F-14 Fighter Squadron, who played key roles in the film, are quick to praise The Final Countdown for showing real missile launches and other authentic air maneuvers. What really works about the film is that it is a character-driven drama augmented by a bizarre scenario - and, admittedly, the fusion of fantasy with a certain amount of wish-fulfillment can carry unexpected power. The scene, for example, where two Japanese Zero fighter planes get their come-uppance when surprised by two modern F-14 fighter jets still reverberates on several levels. The current equivalent would be a time-travel film that posits a crack team of Green Beret soldiers suddenly transported onto hijacked planes before they hit their targets in 2001.
Blue Underground makes The Final Countdown available in a full screen dvd, a widescreen dvd, and a special two-disc limited edition set that comes with a hologram cover wherein the battleship can "disappear" with a twist of the wrist. Latter version includes audio commentary with Director of Photography Victor J. Kemper, theatrical trailers, and TV spots, while the bonus disc adds a 15-minute interview with Lloyd Kaufman, a half-hour interview with the Jolly Rogers F-14 Fighter Squadron (who, among other things, note that you can make more money as a Teamster driving a van for film crew than risking your life as a fighter pilot), poster & still galleries, a short Kirk Douglas biography, and a Zero Pilot Journal (DVD-ROM).
For more information about The Final Countdown, visit Blue Underground. To order the limited edition double disc of The Final Countdown, go to TCM Shopping.
by Pablo Kjolseth