H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def discs by Gary W. Tooze


Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze







The Final Countdown [Blu-ray]


(Don Taylor, 1980)



Review by Gary Tooze



Video: Blue Underground



Region: FREE

Feature Runtime: 1:42:37

Chapters: 24

Feature film disc size: 32.0 Gig

One dual-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 4th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p


English: 7.1 DTS HD Master (lossless), English 7.1 TrueHD,  English - EX 5.1 Surround

Feature: English, French, Spanish and none


Starring the Jolly Roger (31:14)
Lloyd Kaufman Goes Hollywood (14:01)


Product Description: 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 counter-strike that will forever change the course of history?




The Film:

In the late 1970's one of Kirk Douglas' sons, Peter Vincent Douglas, began his career as a producer with a project based on a fantastic scenario; what if one of America's contemporary nuclear-powered aircraft carriers was catapulted back in time via a freak electrical storm and appeared in the Pacific Ocean just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor? His producer credits would go on to include Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983), and Fletch (1985), but what sets The Final Countdown (1980) aside from those popular films is a complicity between the Hollywood dream factory and the U.S. military to create a work that would entertain the masses and also act as a recruiting tool for the Navy.



It's a timeless practice that would go on with films from Top Gun (1986) to any of the more contemporary Tom Clancy-based films that now lead the charge, but it's still interesting within the context of The Final Countdown because the two main stars, Kirk Douglas (as the captain of the U.S.S. Nimitz) and Martin Sheen (as a Defense Department expert), are famous for taking stands against the right-wing powers that be....

Excerpt from TCM located HERE


Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Blu-ray starts out pretty weak. The first 12 minutes it looks like a standard DVD transfer but after that it improves significantly. Colors have some life and detail is a notch better than what you might expect from a 28-year old film. The image even shows some decent depth and contrast is fairly strong with decent black levels. Background noise exists but it is limited and we are offered good grain. The image is fairly smooth and blemish-free. Technically it is dual-layered with the feature size being a healthy 32.0 Gig. I don't see evidence of DNR or edge enhancements. In fact I'd have to say the encoded image is fairly flawless once the film gets going. I have no strong complaints. I' have no doubt that this is as good as The Final Countdown will ever look for your home theater. The Blu-ray image gives us no reason whatsoever to complain. Hopefully, the screen captures below will give you an idea of what it will look like on your system. It's pretty healthy - bordering on impressive.


















Audio & Music:  
Blue Underground have added some healthy options -
a 7.1 DTS HD Master (lossless), a 7.1 TrueHD, and an EX 5.1 Surround. I tested all three but stuck with the DTS. The film doesn't have an excessive amount of action (not modern enough from Hollywood for that), but there is some and the sounds of planes and explosions support viable kick to the rear speakers. Although, there is not much in the way of subtleties to these mixes it still seems quite competent. There is original music by Alan Howarth and John Scott that I didn't find particularly notable. This release is region-free. There are optional subtitles offered in
English, French, or Spanish.


Two unrelated featurettes - Starring the Jolly Roger (31:14) with Navy pilots from the cast reminiscing and joining together to talk about the good old days and Lloyd Kaufman Goes Hollywood which is 15 minutes on the man and his relationship with Troma focusing on a bit of the evolution of this production. No commentary or anything from the cast - which, not surprisingly, seem to have fled the ship.



Bottom line:
The film is a bit of an odd-duck - a decent concept, fair performances but it has an unusual 'feel' - perhaps intentionally so. Any why put this particular film to 1080P? Well, anyway, the
Blu-ray has encouraged me to watch a film that I probably wouldn't have before and I kinda liked it. This would be the first Blu-ray
that I've seen from Blue Underground and it was impressive (dual-layered with a strong 1080P picture) - so that is encouraging. This Blu-ray shouldn't deter anyone from this little sci-fi adventure - it can give a very watchable Saturday-afternoon style presentation. Good clean fun with abundant star appeal.

Gary Tooze

October 28th, 2008





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