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.