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Posted by on Jan 27, 2012 in Kick-Back Friday

Kick-Back Friday: #192

Kick-Back Friday: #192

Final_Countdown.jpgWatching The Final Countdown (1980), starring the recently departed James Farentino, is more of an exercise in “How could I make this movie really good?” as opposed to recognizing its few meritsone of which is the evergreen premise of rewriting history through time travel. This is a solid, if not always entertaining, sci-fi theme, which is unfortunately directed and scored here in cringe-inducing, ham-handed fashion. And let’s not even talk about the special effects, which are laughably rudimentary, even for 1980. One wonders what Spielberg and John Williams would have done with the not-so-terrible screenplay in their prime (and if Spielberg had actually passed on the project at some point during its development).

The setup: For some completely inexplicable reason, the USS Nimitz, the world’s largest aircraft carrier, is transported through a freakish Pacific wormhole on December 7, 1980, toyou guessed it39 years earlier.* The conflict (shouldered largely by the ship’s commander, who is played solidly by an otherwise too-old Kirk Douglas): To prevent the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor or to not fuck with the Day of Infamy and the world’s destiny generally. Military men being military men, most are completely up for a technology-fueled ass-kicking of Japan’s propeller air fleet; while an on-board civilian from the Defense Department (Martin Sheen**) warns of the so-called butterfly effect and other pesky philosophical stuff. The ship’s commander must also have the safety of his crew in mind, especially given the haphazard nature of the arbitrary wormhole. What if the warship accidentally travels back to 1980 while its F-16 pilots are in flight, chasing the Japanese?

The movie also stars a sputtering (no matter what decade he’s in) Charles Durning and a forever-young Katharine Rosswhose character (like us) worries most about what happens to her gorgeous collie.

* When “Nimitz”–ha, ha–was only the name of the guy who commanded the US Pacific fleet.
** This must have been a refreshing walk in the park after Apocalypse Now.

bmartin (1082 Posts)

A native East Tennessean, Barbara Martin is a formerly practicing, board-certified neurologist who received her BS (psychology, summa cum laude) and MD from Duke University before completing her postgraduate training (internship, residency, fellowship) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has worked in academia, private practice, medical publishing, drug market research, and continuing medical education (CME). For the last 3 years, she has worked in a freelance capacity as a medical writer, analyst, and consultant. Follow Dr. Barbara Martin on and Twitter.