A modern aircraft carrier, the U.S.S Nimitz, is thrown back in time, after encountering a bizarre electrical storm while on patrol, to 1941 near Hawaii, just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Ralph Potts reviews the Limited Collector’s Edition Ultra HD Blu-ray release of The Final Countdown from Blue Underground.


The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )



Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )



Studio and Year: Blue Underground - 1980
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 102 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Drama

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC/max CLL/max FALL: 1000/521
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. DTS 5.1, English/French DTS Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, James Farentino, Katherine Ross, Charles Durning, Ron O’Neal
Directed by: Don Taylor
Music by: John Scott
Written by: David Ambrose, Gerry Davis, Thomas Hunter, Peter Powell
Region Code: A

Release Date: April 27, 2021

" Trapped outside the boundaries of time and space – 102 aircraft... 6,000 men... all missing"


A modern aircraft carrier, the U.S.S Nimitz, is thrown back in time, after encountering a bizarre electrical storm while on patrol, to 1941 near Hawaii, just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. – Blue Underground

My Take:

The time is now. The place is aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz, America’s mightiest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier on maneuvers in the Pacific Ocean. Suddenly, a freak electrical storm engulfs the ship and triggers the impossible: The Nimitz is hurtled back in time to December 6, 1941, mere hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. As the enemy fleet speeds towards Hawaii, the warship’s Captain (Kirk Douglas), a Defense Department expert (Martin Sheen), a maverick Air Wing Commander (James Farentino) and a desperate Senator in the Roosevelt administration (Charles Durning) must choose between the unthinkable. Do they allow the Japanese to complete their murderous invasion, or launch a massive counterstrike that will forever change the course of history?

I am most definitely a sucker for science fiction, especially those containing stories that pose questions about time travel and the ramifications of altering history. The Final Countdown takes a simple approach in telling its story about a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and her crew who suddenly find themselves the victims of an anomaly that puts them in a position where with probably minimal effort they could prevent the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

I recall seeing this film on cable television back in the day but, had no clear recollection of the specifics associated with the story or whether or not I really enjoyed it. Watching it today I found it to be quite entertaining. I liked the fact that the plot, while straightforward, eschews the typical trappings you might associate with films of its ilk. Instead of relying on melodrama, hokum and visual trickery, it focuses on the plight of the people aboard the Nimitz as they struggle to cope with whether or not to interfere with history by intervening in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

I love how the film uses real military hardware, including the U.S.S Nimitz and contains lots of aerial footage that never seems ostentatious. I mean, yes, its certainly dated but, more often than not I found myself caught up in the proceedings rather than noticing that aspect. I found the ending to be apropos and exactly what I was counting on. At 102 minutes the film’s pacing is spot on. I really enjoyed watching Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen and James Farentino in their respective roles. Honorable mention goes out to Charles Durning, a character actor that never disappoints.

I am pleased that The Final Countdown has made its way to Ultra HD Blu-ray in this 3 Disc Limited Collector’s Edition that features the film in 4K with HDR in HDR10 and Dolby Vision flavors, Blu-ray, and as a bonus includes The Final Countdown Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD and a collectible booklet featuring the Zero Pilot Journal. The set comes housed in a chubby amaray keep case that properly secures the discs. A lenticular slipcover rounds out the package.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for thematic material and brief violence.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

    • HDR: Dark Highlights:
    • HDR: Bright Highlights:
    • HDR: Expanded Color:
    • Resolution:
    • Visual Impact:

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

    • HDR: Dark Highlights:
    • HDR: Bright Highlights:
    • HDR: Expanded Color:
    • Resolution:
    • Visual Impact:

Dolby Atmos Rating: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

    • Level of immersion:
    • Soundstage integration:
    • Audio object placement:
    • Effectiveness of Atmos platform:
    • Entertainment factor:

The Final Countdown comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Blue Underground featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

The Blue Underground remastered The Final Countdown from the original 35mm film elements. Its presentation in Ultra HD is derived from that 4K image, and the results are impressive.

It's important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like The Final Countdown has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won't result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of many newer films shot today. This isn't a problem and shouldn't be seen as such.

This is a thematic film that strives to create the look and feel of director Don Taylor and cinematographer Victor J. Kemper’s vision. The Final Countdown isn’t the type of film to make for a commanding visual experience on home video but, that’s more or less a given determined by its setting and, the elements necessary to convey the film’s thematic tone.

I am happy to report that its primary foundation remains fully intact while revealing layers of seemingly new detail, definition, color delineation, and emboldened contrast that elevate its visual impact. The opening scenes with its beautiful flyovers offer rich earth tones and subtle nuance that convey the expanse of the pacific and the U.S.S Nimitz. I was impressed with the sharpness and detail in the sequence where we first meet Warren Lasky.

The subtle minutia visible in the clothing and facial features among the members of the cast as well as the aircraft carrier’s interior was striking. Grain remains perfectly intact, with a primarily even and, organic essence. The color range in the film is somewhat limited but, the rendering of primary colors is gratifying and contrastingly vivid. I also found that fleshtones appeared gradational and quite natural.

The addition of high dynamic range added a pleasing visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. I also felt that the sun splashed sequences benefited from the application of HDR which emboldened their depth. In addition to the increase in resolution, this made the differences between the 1080p video and this rendering standout.

I found the Ultra HD presentation of The Final Countdown allows its attributes to be fully realized in a way that it probably hadn’t been before. Video enthusiasts are sure to appreciate it.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.

In comparing the DV and HDR10 renderings I ran the same scenes using my reference UHD player. The film’s elements looked outstanding on both formats with respect to the reproduction of HDR. I did feel that the DV presentation offered slightly richer color rendition and the handling of the finest details in brightly lit scenes. The latter wasn’t enough to warrant a rating difference but, I felt the former was. As I said, you can’t go wrong with either.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos soundtracks, I was pleased with how the mix was handled. When applied, the use of overhead sound objects elevated proportional correlation. When compared to the original 5.1 channel mix, the immersive sound offers a noticeable improvement by opening up the soundstage, elevating the perception of low-level detail. During the various encounters/action/interior/exterior venues featured in the film, the tracks brim with atmospherics and discrete sound objects which adds an enriching layer to the film’s soundtrack. This is noticeable right from the beginning, with examples being found throughout.

The Final Countdown doesn’t have the solidity and dynamism of newer genre films, which leaves it feeling a bit dated but, I would prefer to have it retain the original recording’s overall essence rather than sounding forced and bloated. When called for the Dolby Atmos mixes took a subtle or more active approach, and conveyed the spirit and overall feel of the original soundtrack while adding a complimentary element.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

    • Resolution/Clarity:
    • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
    • Color Reproduction:
    • Fleshtones:
    • Compression:

Audio: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

    • Dynamics:
    • Low frequency effects:
    • Surround Sound presentation:
    • Clarity/Detail:
    • Dialog Reproduction:
    • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

The Final Countdown comes to Blu-ray Disc from Blue Underground featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

Blue Underground remastered The Final Countdown from the original 35mm film elements, and that 4K restoration was used for this 1080p rendering.

Having not seen the previous 1080p release I have no frame of reference for this new rendering. If I had to summarize it I would say that this is a pleasing video presentation that seems a perfect match for the source material. Colors are deeply saturated with eye pleasing vitality and delineated depth. Images are resolute, with stable sharpness, crisp detail and appreciable subtle refinement. Certain scenes appear better resolved than others although I suspect this is related to the photography. Contrast is dynamic without being overpowering and blacks are respectable in depth with discernible detail visible in low lighting and shadows. I didn’t see any signs of video related artifacts and thought that in general video quality was excellent.

The lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (Atmos core) soundtrack bests the 5.1 channel mix, offering solid dynamics, detail rich clarity, and noteworthy use of the entire surround platform to drive the film’s elements. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is notable. The low frequency effects channel is active as the subwoofer works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the bass response associated with the action-based sequences. Dialog is firmly planted in the center channel and renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction. I am so pleased that Blue Underground opted to include the Dolby Atmos/7.1TrueHD soundtrack on the Blu-ray.

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: The Final Countdown Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: The Final Countdown Blu-ray
  • Disc 3: The Final Countdown Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD
    • Audio Commentary with Director of Photography Victor J. Kemper
    • Lloyd Kaufman Goes Hollywood - Interview with Associate Producer Lloyd Kaufman
    • Starring The Jolly Rogers - Interviews with The Jolly Rogers F-14 Fighter Squadron
    • Theatrical Trailers
    • TV Spots
    • Poster & Still Galleries
    BONUS! THE FINAL COUNTDOWN Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD by John Scott
    BONUS! Collectible Booklet featuring The Zero Pilot Journal
    BONUS! 3D Lenticular Slipcover (First Pressing Only) [/I]

Final Thoughts:

The Final Countdown isn’t a cinematic gem but, that doesn’t prevent it from being a classic in its own right. It comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray in this Exclusive Limited Collector’s Edition from Blue Underground featuring newly restored video quality that befits its status, Dolby Atmos immersive sound and a fan friendly supplemental package that includes collectibles. This offering is a must have for fans and comes highly recommended.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7706 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems