Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Final Countdown

I was at a video store recently and noticed a DVD-Video copy of The Final Countdown (1980) starring Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen and James Farentino.

The plot: An American nuclear aircraft carrier and its crew are caught in a classic dilemma when a supernatural storm sends them back in time just before the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbour.

Sweet Jesus! Is this not the greatest movie plot ever?

The wife was less enthusiastic and we ended up renting some crap. But I didn't forget my movie.

But, finally, yesterday evening I watched The Final Countdown. Some of the dialog read like my grade 6 compositions. The special effects for the time-portal-storm thingy was pretty bad. But the movie had enough kick-ass scenes to make up for it -- including the scene where the F-14s freak out the two Japanese pre-invasion scout pilots in their A6M Zeros.

This dogfight scene is the highlight of the film

Anyone who has used the trainer (cheat) feature in Civilization IV to acquire a few stealth fighters to use against your opponents' Chariot or Cavalry will instantly recognize the awesomeness of this scene.

Like with Captain Picard and his crew, there is a scene where the officers discuss the implications of destroying the entire Japanese fleet heading towards them (and Pearl Harbor). Unlike Picard, Kirk Douglas isn't concerned with polluting the timeline. His job is to protect his country, whatever the year and whoever is Commander in Chief.

But the timeline has a way of protecting itself, we discover.

About three-quarters of the way through, I suddenly remembered the final scene. I guess I'd seen the movie as a kid and forgotten. Or maybe my family watched it and I remembered the final scene through their description of its coolness.

Sorry if I ruined the ending. James Farentino's character gets stuck in the past. So when the rest of the crew return to port, Farentino's character had aged 40 years.

I'm fascinated by how movies never convincingly portray aging. So, in the interest of science, I've made a side-by-side comparison of Farentino in real-life 22 years later and Farentino's character 40 years later.

By the way, in preparing this text, I discovered the alternate history/time travel novel Weapons of Choice by John Birmingham. It builds on the premise of The Final Countdown and looks even cooler.

Finally, here is Roger Ebert's orignial review of The Final Countdown.


Riskczar said...

Farentino was a lot more wan in colour in the fiction whereas he appears to have more yellowish discoloration in reality. (It would be a lot of fun to repeat this comparison with all celebrities.)

Darryl said...

Hmm. That could be a neat project. It would be easier if someone has already done the hard work of listing all those characters/movies in which actors fake being old.

I will look into this because it is my goal to make as many non-revenue-generating Web sites as is humanly possible.

Anonymous said...

Funny. I remember that movie and that Farantino got stuck in the past.... Do you remember another weird movie when we were kids (maybe you were too young)... in it a girl turns into a mermaid or something and ends up swimming off with a huge turtle... I dont remember more than that, but i remember feeling very sentimental when I saw that when i was a kid. If anyone can dig this up, you can.


Ian said...

This movie was a landmark event for Michael, Danny and I back in Grade 4 or 5... I think we drew F-14's for a full school year after seeing it. Time travel? Fighter jets? Aircraft carriers? What more could a 10-year old kid want?

Paul Iddon said...

I love the photo of the F-14's closing in right behind the Zeroes! =)