The Final Countdown [Limited Edition] – 4K UHD Blu-ray Review

Amazon Commissions Earned

Film Title: The Final Countdown (1980)
Release Date: 2021
Rating: PG
Runtime: 102 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Distributor: Blue Underground
Audio Formats: Dolby Atmos / DTS-HD MA 5.1 & 2.0
High Dynamic Range: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Version Reviewed: 4K UHD Blu-ray Limited Edition
Amazon Commissions Earned
Release Date: 5/25/21
Director: Don Taylor
Cast: Kirk DouglasMartin SheenKatharine Ross, James Farentino, Charles Durning, Ron O’Neal, Lloyd Kaufman

Jump to Sections:
Movie | Video | Audio | Bonus | Closing | Screenshots
Full 4K Tech Specs found at the bottom

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The Movie

“The Final Countdown” was a 1980 film that is classified as a combination of action, science fiction, and drama. The movie was directed by Don Taylor. Taylor is also known for directing such films as “Escape from the Planet of the Apes” (1971), “Tom Sawyer” (1973), “Echoes of Summer” (1976), “The Island of Dr. Moreau” (1977), and “Damien: Omen II” (1978).

The story and screenplay to the movie were co-written by Thomas Hunter, David Ambrose, and Peter Powell, with contributions from Gerry Davis on the screenplay. Hunter is best known for also co-writing the screenplay to “The ‘Human’ Factor” (1975) with Powell. Ambrose is best known for also writing the screenplay for “The Survivor” (1981), and for co-writing the screenplay for the film “D.A.R.Y.L.” (1985).

“The Final Countdown” takes place on a Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz, and is set in the year 1980. The ship is receiving a visitor from the D.O.D. (department of defense) by the name of “Warren Lasky” (Martin Sheen). His job, as a consultant of sorts, is to inspect the ship and report anything that he finds could be changed to the government agency. The ship is commanded by “Captain Matthew Yelland” (Kirk Douglas), and under his command is a bit of a maverick by the name of “Commander Richard Owens” (James Farentino).

The Navy crew are going about the normal schedule except for showing Lasky around the ship before things start to get a little bit odd. All of the sudden this strange storm-like activity begins and it becomes more apparent that it’s not a storm, and something of supernatural level happening. The crew and their guest recover from the incident but then soon find out that they cannot make radio contact with anyone else from an aircraft they already had out. After further listening to their radios and then sending out fighter jets to observe, they learn they have strangely ended up back in the year 1941. To be specific, they have traveled back in time to December 6th, 1941 — a day that will live in infamy — when the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces. This act would lead to the United States joining the allied forces in World War II.

Why have they been sent back in time with a modern aircraft carrier, when the Japanese forces are approaching and soon about to attack Pearl Harbor? That’s a great mystery, and should the Navy crew attempt the obvious and try to change the course of history, by stopping the Japanese forces? That’s a great question and one you’ll have to watch to find out the answer to. Let’s just say they will come across some people from 1941 and do alter the course in some way, by rescuing a member of the Roosevelt administration (played by Charles Durning). 

Movie Rating: 4 (out of 5)

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Video Quality

“The Final Countdown” on 4K UHD Blu-ray is presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio with both HDR10 and Dolby Vision varieties of high dynamic range. The movie was shot on 35mm film using Panavision cameras with Anamorphic lenses. The folks at Blue Underground have given this a new restoration via a new 4K 16-bit scan from the original 35mm camera negative. The 4K presentation includes both HDR10 and Dolby Vision forms of high dynamic range.

Next, let me get a tad bit technical here (for a bit) in regards to the 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc itself. This release is using a BD-100 (100 gigabytes) disc, 90.92 gigabytes total, and 70.3 gigabytes for the film itself. Let’s take a look at the original Blu-ray Disc release of the film. That release was using a BD-50 (50 gigabytes) disc which for 2008 was pretty ahead of its time. Now, I didn’t decide to do a screenshots comparison here because the Blu-ray that is included is using the very same 4K restoration and I felt it wouldn’t offer up much to see or be worth my effort. Mainly, this is because I have to admit to not owning the original 2008 Blu-ray release that Blue Underground did of this film.

The first thing you’ll notice, after the opening credits, is the incredible amount of detail and a healthy amount of film grain that has been left fully intact. The black level is perfectly solid, especially via the addition of the two different choices of HDR (high dynamic range). Plus, the color palette feels very realistic and the flesh tones are accurate as well, again thanks to the addition of HDR. There’s very little debris or such left here, as things have been cleaned up in an extremely tasteful manner. That’s something that Blue Underground has become well-known for now with the 4K UHD Blu-ray releases and this is no exception, in terms of video presentation.

This is one jaw-dropping restoration of a 1980 film that now looks impeccable when presented in 4K. You can’t help but feel that it comes as close as you can get, without time travel, to seeing this film at its finest.

There’s enough visually compelling material and action here to just leave you amazed, as they actually shot this on the real USS Nimitz Navy aircraft carrier and used real Navy aircraft in the film. Some of the aerial shots here with the fighter jets look as amazing as what you would see six years later in a film called Top Gun (1986). All and all, this is one flawless 4K video presentation that certainly breathes new life into this 1980 film, earning it a perfect 5 rating for video quality.

Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)

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Audio Quality

“The Final Countdown” makes its debut to the 4K UHD Blu-ray format, via this Limited Edition, in a new Dolby Atmos mix as well as with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 lossless sound mixes. The previous 2008 Blu-ray featured a 7.1 lossless mix in the very same sound format, but you should remember that Dolby Atmos uses a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 on physical media. So, there’s no need here to include a 7.1 surround sound mix here, when it’s actually a part of the Dolby Atmos itself.

Things here, in the Dolby Atmos, come with a whole hell of a lot of oomph, and make excellent use of the rear channel speakers, height channels, and have a respectable amount of LFE that you’ll feel via your subwoofer. The dialogue is delivered distinctly from the center channel and never has an issue that would merit the making of any volume adjustment. Just set it to your typical reference level and sit back and enjoy what is, in my opinion, a piece of reference material in both terms of sound quality and, as mentioned above, in video quality. This release is very action-packed and it heavily benefits from getting a Dolby Atmos mix this time around, as well as the 5.1 surround and the 2.0 stereo lossless audio mixes as well.

There’s a short bit in the Dolby Atmos mix, a little over an hour into the film when things get a bit of obvious hiss in the rear channel speakers. It’s nothing too bothersome thing, but just noticeable. It lasts around 10 minutes or so, in all due honesty, in what is a film and an hour and forty-two minutes in length. So, I can’t really demerit the score for audio here based on a short bit of hiss that I don’t even find to be distracting. I’m just OCD and overly critical when analyzing things, hence this is what I do.

That all being said, this has its moments where you’ll be really amazed by some pieces of demo material in terms of action sequences involving fighter jets and some other aircraft. Thanks to the addition of height channel speakers, during the aforementioned scenes, you’ll be able to feel the aircraft are soaring slightly above you. It’s a very nice effect. Things sound very intense, realistic, and most importantly impressive throughout the film in this new Dolby Atmos sound mix. Plus, both the 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo sound mixes prove to be just as impressive and are worth checking out for those perhaps not on a system capable of Dolby Atmos or those who want to go at things from a purist approach. In fact, I sampled a bit of both of those other lossless sound mixes and found each to be exceptional.

Lastly, on a related note and involving fighter jets, in my opinion, this is right up there with Top Gun and its Dolby Atmos mix, and I’m not even kidding. I had to say that because I couldn’t help but think of that film a few times throughout this.

All and all, “The Final Countdown,” on its debut to the 4K UHD Blu-ray format manages to earn itself a perfect 5 rating for audio quality. And, I’m happy to report that the folks at Blue Underground continue to keep their perfect track record of 4K UHD Blu-ray releases, so far on the 4K physical format.

Audio Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)

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Bonus Materials

Physical Extras on this Limited Edition 4K UHD Blu-ray set include the following:

  • A Collectible Booklet featuring “The Zero Pilot Journal”
  • A CD (Compact Disc) of “The Final Countdown” Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
  • A Reverse Sleeve with Alternate Cover Art
  • A Lenticular Slipcover (with first pressings)
  • A Blu-ray Disc is included with the newly remastered version of the movie in HD, with the identical audio options as the 4K UHD Blu-ray has. It features Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and 2.0 lossless sound mixes. The disc also contains the very same bonus materials as listed below. This also includes a D-BOX hapticode (motion code) for those with the proper equipment to decode it. 

Bonus materials included on the 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc and on the Blu-ray Disc are identical and are listed below. These extras are all presented in HD video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound unless otherwise noted below in the descriptions.

  • Audio Commentary with Director of Photography Victor J. Kemper
  • “Lloyd Kaufman Goes to Hollywood”Interview with Associate Producer Lloyd Kaufman (14 minutes, 4 seconds – HD) is a must-see. Lloyd Kaufman served as a co-founder and the face of Troma Entertainment, but he also served as a producer on films like Rocky and Saturday Night Fever. This interview is archival from the original 2004 DVD release that Blue Underground did. Lloyd certainly was not a fan of the director and he offers up some amazing insight into how the film was made. He also claims that early on Kirk Douglas was not a big fan of him, however, Lloyd was a fan of Douglas, and they later became friends. Kaufman is a very cool guy and he just has some of the bluntest and truthful ways of describing things unfiltered and uncensored. Thanks to Lloyd, you’ll learn who was really fun to work with and who was an asshole here.
  • “Starring The Jolly Rogers” – Interviews with The Jolly Rogers F-14 Fighter Squadron (31 minutes, 18 seconds – HD) give you a nice little behind-the-scenes glimpse of how the film was made, with the Navy fighter jet pilots featured in the film. 
  • Theatrical Trailers, come with a play all option, and consist of the following:
    • Teaser (1 minute, 50 seconds – HD)
    • Trailer #1 (2 minutes, 49 seconds – HD)
    • Trailer #2 (3 minutes, 13 seconds – HD)
  • TV Spots, also come with a play all function, and consist of the following:
    • TV Spot #1 (30 seconds – HD)
    • TV Spot #2 (30 seconds – HD)
    • TV Spot #3 (30 seconds – HD)
  • Posters & Still Galleries, allow you to navigate each section via the chapter forward button. These still images include:
    • Posters (28 images – HD)
    • Advertising Materials (8 images – HD)
    • Japanese Souvenir Program (29 images – HD)
    • Lobby Cards (58 images – HD)
    • Stills (13 images – HD)
    • Behind-The-Scenes (76 images – HD)
    • Video (38 images – HD)
    • Miscellaneous (18 images – HD)

Overall, in terms of bonus materials, first off there are some physical extras here in the form of a booklet, reverse artwork, and a CD (compact disc) of the film’s original soundtrack. Plus, you get all of the previous extras ported over here and presented in HD. This is a pretty impressive set of supplemental material and feels to be enough to do the movie itself justice.

Bonus Materials Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)

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Closing Thoughts

Looking back on it, “The Final Countdown” from 1980, I feel that it is underrated and despite having a director with some issues it managed to be still a great film and holds up all these years later. There’s really no other film like this for its time, or even now really. The only thing that I can compare this two is a very long episode of “The Twilight Zone” original TV series. You get some good performances here from some excellent actors like Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Charles Durning, Katherine Ross, and James Farentino

Here’s one very obscure but fun bit of movie trivia and fact here about this film. Lloyd Kaufman, now known for being the co-founder of Troma Entertainment, served as unit production manager on this film as well as an associate producer, and he actually even co-starred in the film briefly early on with a few speaking parts. Lloyd was actually great in this and his character was even named “L. Kaufman,” appropriately enough.

In terms of video quality, this looks phenomenal to be a 1980 film. They [Blue Underground] gave this a new 4K scan of the original 35MM camera negative and then one exceptional restoration that was then finalized in 4K resolution with both HDR10 and Dolby Vision forms of high dynamic range color grading. This is yet another perfect 4K video presentation from the folks at Blue Underground. I can genuinely tell you that they are keeping their perfect track record (so far) of incredible work going with this.

In terms of audio quality, you’ll get a brand new Dolby Atmos object-based sound mix with the addition of height channels. You also get two lossless sound mixes in the form of DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo. Each one of these mixes holds an immense amount of what I like to refer to as “oomph” and I mean even the 2.0 Stereo, without any subwoofer in the mix. The Dolby Atmos is my personal favorite as it makes some amazing use of the height channels and rear channels to make the scenes involving aircraft seem so much more realistic than 5.1 or 2.0 can, in my opinion.

Finally, the extras you get on this release not only include some physical bonus in the form of a booklet as well as a CD of the original motion picture soundtrack, a lenticular slipcover (for the first pressing), and a reverse sleeve with alternate artwork. Then, you get 2 featurettes in HD, as well as other supplemental materials. It’s a pretty impressive set of bonus materials that does this film justice, in my honest opinion.

All and all, the always impressive folks at Blue Underground have put together yet another highly recommended release of “The Final Countdown”  on 4K UHD Blu-ray with this Limited Edition 3-disc set.

In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
5 (out of 5) for video quality
5 (out of 5) for audio quality
4.25 (out of 5) for bonus materials

Overall Verdict:
Highly Recommended

Available As:

2021 4K UHD Blu-ray Limited Edition Release

Amazon Commissions Earned

4K UHD Blu-ray Screenshots:


4K UHD Blu-ray Technical Specifications:

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Exact Runtime(s): 1:42:37
Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (with a DTS 5.1 core), English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono (with a DTS 2.0 Mono core), DTS 2.0 Mono
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Disc Size: BD-100
Disc Use: 90.92GB total / 70.3GB for the film