Celebrating B Movies, Cult Films, and Indie Classics.

The Final Countdown (1980)

by  |  August 8th, 2011  |  Sci Fi

Science Fiction movies, what can I say about them?  They have always been a genre that I have loved ever since I was introduced to them when I was a kid, with such movies as, Alien (1979), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), The Terminator (1984), or even The Philedelphia Experiment (1984)…

With that said, an area of this genre that I have  always found that I have really liked is the concept of traveling in to the unknown… Rather it be reaching an unknown depth of space that no man has ever been able to explore (as is the case with Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier.) Or traveling inside an experimental craft exploring new realms of the human experience (As is the case with the movie Innerspace (1987). Or heck even time travel…

As is the case with The Final Countdown (1980):

Written by: David Ambrose (Blackout), Gerry Davis (Doctor Who), Thomas Hunter (X312 – Flight To Hell), Peter Powell (The ‘Human’ Factor) and Directed by: Don Taylor (Damien: The Omen 2).  Starring: Kirk Douglas (Spartacus), Martin Sheen (Judgement In Berlin), Katherine Ross (The Stepford Wives), James Farentino (Dead & Buried), Ron O’Neal (Red Dawn) and Charles Durning (The Sting).

Have you ever been posed the question of, ‘If you had a chance to go back and kill Adolph Hitler before he was born… Would you?’

Well the crew of the USS Nimitz is going to have to deal with a very similar question, but we will get in to that in a minute…

You see the movie begins with a Helicopter that is ferrying Warren Lasky (Sheen) over to the Aircraft Carrier, the USS Nimitz in 1980… You see Mr. Lasky’s boss went to a great deal of trouble to ensure Warren was on that Aircraft Carrier.

Martin Sheen as 'Warren Lasky'

With that at first everything seems normal, that is till bad weather suddenly hits, right over where the Nimitz is stationed at, so the Captain of the ship, Captain Matthew Yelland (Douglas) decides to have all of the jets stationed on his ship head back in so that he can batten down the hatches and prepare to ride out the storm… Of course there is one plane that couldn’t quite make it in as it was having some mechanical difficulty.

So Captain Yelland decides to put the ships course in to the wind and to have the barricade come up so that the plane can make an emergency landing…

With that said though and with everyone paying attention to the plane, no one seems to notice that the aircraft carrier has inadvertently went straight in to the eye of the vortex (Fortunately the plane followed suite and ended up safely landing on the aircraft carrier.)

Now with no one certain about what is going on and communications out with the U.S. Government, Captain Yelland (thinking that perhaps the United States has gone to war) decides to send up a surveillance plane along with a fighter escort…

Now while in the air, the surveillance craft discovers a yacht, that to them is over almost 40 years old and reports that in, but not long after that they come to discover what they think looks like ‘mint’ condition World War 2 era, Japanese, ‘Zeros’ (Just so as you know the ‘Zero’ or Mitsubishi A6M Zero, was one of the more popular fighter planes that was owned and operated by the Japanese during World War 2.)

The Zero as it is making it's initial strafing run.

Now the Zeros in this movie are a part of the Japanese military task force that was sent on the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor that happened on December 7th 1941… Now of course Captain Yelland of the Nimitz doesn’t know this for certain yet, but is starting to suspect something strange, and after the Zeros strafe the yacht a couple of times (Blowing up the Yacht during the second run), Captain Yelland decides to have his Fighters arm their weapons (but just try and scare the Zeros away so that they don’t attack the survivors.)

After awhile the Captain orders that the Zeros be blown up!

Now with Zeros flying around in the air, and the Senator that could have stopped the attack on Pearl Harbor, on the Nimitz, as well as photos of Pearl Harbor that proves that they have some how been thrown back to just days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, it is gonna be up to Captain Yelland, Warren Lasky and the rest of the crew of the USS Nimitz to figure out how to get home to their own time, and to also answer the question, “If you had the means to easily stop the attack on Pearl Harbor before it started… Even if it exposed a dangerous amount of advanced weaponry to a world not ready for it… Would you do so?”

Captain Yelland, Warren Laskey and crew as they figure out what to do.

With that said, what I like about this movie and what I do truly feel makes this a truly awesome b movie is a couple of things:

1. First off I gotta say that this cast was fantastic! And getting to see Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen together in the same film was a real treat, because both of these actors are kind of the beginning points for two art dynasties that respectively  include, Michael Douglas (A Perfect Murder), Eric Douglas (Alaska Kid), Peter Douglas (Fletch). And for the Sheen/Estevez family you got, Emilio Estevez (The Breakfast Club), Charlie Sheen (Wall Street), as well as Renee Estevez (Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers)

2. I also thought that you guys might find this be interesting but it turns out that the ‘Zeros’ that were used in this movie were actually, AT-6 Texans that were made up to look like Zeros.

3. Also it turns out that Kirk Douglas had originally intended to do this film with his son Michael, but due to the fact that Michael was busy with post production on ‘The China Syndrome.’  Martin Sheen was brought in instead to fill the role of ‘Warren Lasky’

4. Lastly don’t forget to look for a cameo from Troma Teams own Lloyd Kaufman! (Who also helped to produce this film as well.)

With that said, if you are looking for a fun time travel movie which will pit a modern navy (for that time) against it’s World War 2 predecessors then I highly recommend this one!

Nathan Strack


I am a huge Horror/B-Movie/Grindhouse movie fan! Rather it be Writing/Acting/Directing or just watching one I love it all!

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