Final Countdown: The SilentPete Edit, The

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Brief Synopsis:
The Final Countdown. This is one of those forgotten gems from the 80's. It is a great film, with a simple idea, that is pulled off quite well. However, the film is bogged down with excessive shots and sequences showcasing the Navy. This is a version of the film with the bulk of those scenes either cut or trimmed down, as well as some other bits here and there.
The intention of this edit was to slim the film down by removing the excessive Navy promotion and get to the actual story.
Other Sources:
Commercial Blu-ray.
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Editing Details:
The intent of the editing process was to make the cuts, hopefully, blend in without being noticed.
Cuts and Additions:
The cuts and trims are as follows...

The opening 30 seconds or so of black screen with radio chatter is gone. We open right away on the jet taking off.

The sequence of Commander Owens landing on the carrier is gone. Now we meet him as he and his co-pilot are walking inside.

The scene of the weather officer discussion the storm is gone. I wanted the arrival of the storm to be a bit more surprising.

The extended sequence of the deck crew prepping for a plane crash is gone. It is not needed for the story and is just another scene showcasing the Navy doing their thing (admittedly very well).

The storm sequence has been trimmed down to remove some of the shots showing the crew seemingly in deathly pain. Just a bit over the top for my taste. And the volume of the storm has been lowered. It was always just a bit too much.

The crew going to general quarters has been cut. Again, just showcasing of the Navy.

The rescue teams arriving on deck as been trimmed. See above for Navy showcasing...

A brief trim so we do not see the pilot's face before Commander Owens looks at him on the stretcher. I always assumed the pilot was aged, and that it what Owens is reacting to. Removing the quick shot of his face allows that idea to be possible.

The sequence showing the radar plane taking off is gone. Just more showcasing...

The sequence of the crew prepping the weapons and whatnot is gone. See above...

More shots of planes landing are gone.

Extended dialogue talking about how Laurel is such a strong woman is cut. We get it already.

A little shuffling of small scenes to break up the bits with the Captain, Lasky and Owens..

Close-up shots of the Zero pilots are gone in order to preserve some mystery... and they didn't look like they were really flying.

The sequence of the jets "playing" with the Zero's is heavily trimmed down. It went on way too long. Just more showcasing....

The fight between the jets and the Zero's is trimmed down. Goes on too long and is just more Navy showcasing...

The rescue of Laurel and the Senator is heaving trimmed. It just goes on too long.

Scenes of the rescued people arriving on deck are gone. Mainly for pacing.

The extended dialogue of Laurel and Commander Owens talking about her being a strong woman are trimmed. Again, we got it.

The sequence of the planes taking off to fight the fleet is heavily trimmed. Way too long. Way, way too long.

The sound for the returning storm is reduced. Just like the first time, it was too loud.

That's about it!

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(Updated: May 17, 2023)
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Great Fun!

I've always had a soft spot for this film which plays like a very high-end 'Twilight Zone' or even one of those old, 'One Step Beyond' episodes.

For those who've not seen it, it has a single, rather hokey science fiction idea executed really well. An alternate history about a modern aircraft carrier that travels through time to the day before the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour, set and filmed on board the real-life USS Nimitz. It doesn't dwell for a moment on the time travel device at all, diving instead into the speculative consequences. It has a great cast and a pretty good script, with Captain Kirk Douglas and his crew dealing with their crazy predicament in a way that feels logical and plausible.

None of it really stands up to much analysis, of course, but hey, who cares when you have modern fighter jets tangling with 'mint' Japanese Zeroes?

What really helps the premise is that the producers were given access to film onboard an honest-to-goodness nuclear powered aircraft carrier. The whole thing has a feel of scale and authenticity because of this. The hardware, the crew etc come across as the real deal because they ARE the real deal.

The aerial sequences in particular are exceptional, and apart from some Maurice Binder FX shots and the odd miniature, the military action is really the main special effect.

Of course, the US Navy doesn't allow their assets to be used as locations, cast and props for nothing. The producers were evidently obliged to allow their film to essentially become a Naval recruitment tool. The unnecessary amount of running time given over to shiny military hardware and procedure messed with the pace of the story and got in the way of something that should have inherently been thrilling, fun and above all pacey. I once tried this movie on a friend who complained the whole thing just felt like a cynical advert.

Silentpete has expertly addressed this issue (along with paring down some other narrative flab) and this is 'The Final Countdown' as it should have been from the start. Now all the excessive military flexing is gone and we're left with just The Twilight Zone writ very large. Hugely enjoyable.

I watched this standard def but as the film makers weren't above pinching some footage from 'Tora Tora Tora' this probably works in the film's favour, making those transitions less noticeable.

As a footnote, there's a weird personal time travel aspect that comes with watching this again. I saw this movie when it first came out but we are now farther removed chronologically from this 1980 production than it was from the events at Pearl Harbour in 1941!

As Kirk says in the film, "I must be dreaming!"


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