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original title: The Final Countdown
duration: 1h 43min
tags: On December 7, 1980 --- The nuclear carrier USS Nimitz disappeared in the Pacific...and reappeared December 6, 1941...the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour
keywords: aircraftcarrier, tragedy, japaneseabroad, japaneseman, pacificocean, navalship, blackhair, safereturnhome, past, historicalevent, flyinganairplane, openingadoor, visit, dilemma, tropicalsetting, pacif
Not only does it have a great cast (Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Charles Durning), the footage of the carrier & its airwing...and the flight scenes is truly awe-inspiring.
The story - based on the novel by the super-intelligent Martin Caidin (who created The Six Million Dollar Man) was a piece of brilliant sci-fi and "historical conundrum".
The idea of (in 1980) a modern-day nuclear-powered aircraft carrier being time-warped to December 6, 1941, less than 24 hours before the Imperial Japanese Navy attacks the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor - and the commanding officers (and a brilliant civilian military "systems analyst") trying to make sense of the situation, and deciding whether or not to change the course of history was a great idea (H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine", comes to mind).
When making the fateful decision to change history, or leave things as is, the Captain (Kirk Douglas) states "This is a U.S. warship. Our job is to defend the United States of America against attack...past, present or future".
If, like me, you are an avid follower of military aircraft, then you will love seeing all of the jets and helicopters that served aboard the Nimitz in the late 1970s - F-14 Tomcat, A-7 Corsair II, A-6 Intruder (various versions for attack, refueling and jamming of enemy radars), S-3 Viking Anti-Sub warfare, H-2 Hawkeye (airborne radar & communications), and the Sikorsky Sea King helo used for Search & Rescue and anti-sub warfare.
One thing I wish the film did that was in the novel would have been to have more of the "technical talk" that Martin Sheen's character (Warren Lasky) used when explaining how the storm happened, and how the Captain and crew could figure it out using the technology available to them.
Also, in the novel, there was much more graphic detail of what happened to the ship & her crew when they went through the storm the first time.
The novel also gave a sense of closure to the Commander Owens / Richard Tideman saga that ended the film.
It is for these reasons that I give the film 7 stars, instead of 8 or 9. Kirk Douglas is the captain of a nuclear powered aircraft carrier who gets caught in a time warp and sent back to the day before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. With a premise like that, you just can't fail.
Stuck in 1941 with a crew of five thousand men and nearly one hundred aircraft, easily tracking the Japanese fleet as it nears its target, Douglas faces a dilemma - does he mess with time or does he sit back and watch history repeat itself? Others in the crew, including Martin Sheen, offer their own theories, and Charles Durning shows up as a 1941 era senator, obviously perplexed at what's going on.
This may have turned into a snooze-fest, but I was glad that the plot zipped quickly along, with American jets and Jap zeroes going at it, and the capture of a Japanese pilot that turns very violent (this is supposed to be a PG, but this part had Robocop-level blood letting). You can't go wrong with a cast like that, and I really enjoyed this film (I'd never heard of it until someone gave me their copy). Can be picked up really cheap in the UK, in widescreen (great cinematography too!). It's briefly discussed in the film but it deals with the paradox of time travel itself. How could they go back and prevent the attack on Pearl Harbor? Because if they had done that, then the attack never happened. If it had never happened they wouldn't have needed to try and stop it. Also rescuing Senator Chapman, they saved him from the fate of being strafed and killed by the Zeroes, however he wound up accidentally blowing himself up as a result. Therefore he never lived to be Roosevelt's running mate as he never made it past that day alive. As far as everyone in 1941 was concerned, his yacht sank and he went missing and only those aboard the Nimitz knew what actually happened. Therefore even if one tries to alter history, the paradox of time travel prevents this from happening. No, Japanese mini-subs also attacked Pearl Harbour which would have been more than enough to bring the US into the war. Japan also attacked US territories such as the Philippines, Guam and Wake Island in addition to Pearl Harbour. Also it would only have been the first wave of several airstrikes.
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