Suppose you can take a modern, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a full
complement of jet fighters back into time to the day before the sneak attack
on Pearl Harbour by the Japanese. The question is: do you stop them and
prevent the attack from ever happening?
You would change history in the process, but would it be for the better?
The attack on Pearl Harbor gave then US President Roosevelt an excuse
to enter the Second World War, something he had wanted to do for quite
a while. However, how to get the isolationist Americans behind him?
Pearl Harbor provided the excuse and because of its sneaky nature (the
Japanese only delivered their declaration of war after the attack had
taken place) it brought the Americans behind Roosevelt. How would WWII
have progressed without American involvement? Undoubtedly the Russians
would have prevailed over the Nazis in the end, but how would the post-war
international scene have looked? Would the entire Europe, without American
post-war assistance have become Communist satellite states? Would America
be the superpower it is today?
"Something you'd watch on TV for free without complaint . . ."
What is baffling is that none of the crew members of said carrier in
The Final Countdown debate any of these issues. Sure, they're military
men and not really supposed to think for themselves - but still! Instead
they dash off to prevent the attack. Will they succeed? If you apply logic
to The Final Countdown, then the answer will be apparent.
Not that anyone else applied much logic to the rest of the movie. It's
"surprise ending" will be over-familiar to regular Star
Trek or Twilight Zone viewers, except those venerable TV shows
would probably have handled the story side of things better. Movies such
as Time After Time, Back to
the Future and 12 Monkeys did a whole lot
more with their time travel plots and twists than Final Countdown
Final Countdown isn't without interest however. The scenes filmed
on a US navy aircraft carrier (and apparently featuring actual crew members
as extras - how's that for a touch of added realism?) are interesting.
The acting is okay, but subdued considering the talents
involved. The special effects have dated markedly. (Maurice Binder, who
did the opening credit sequences for the James Bond movies for years -
those usually featuring gorgeous women in silhouette, handled some effects.
I think you'd be able to spot the scenes he did for Final Countdown.)
Final Countdown is something you'd watch on TV for free without
complaint. If you're really into the historical topic of the Pearl
attack and you can manage a cheap video rental, then viewing it as part
of a double bill along with the factually accurate Tora Tora Tora
might be a good way to pass a slow Sunday evening.