Countdown To Zero traces the history of the atomic bomb from its origins to the present state of global affairs: nine nations possessing nuclear weapons capabilities with others racing to join them, leaving the world held in a delicate balance that could be shattered by an act of terrorism, failed diplomacy, or a simple accident. Written and directed by acclaimed documentarian Lucy Walker, the film features an array of important international statesmen, including President Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pervez Musharraf, and Tony Blair. The film makes a compelling case for worldwide nuclear disarmament; an issue more topical than ever with the Obama administration working to revive this goal in the present day. Still, the probability of this diabolic force is not ZERO. (Tricia Spears)
Special features include four deleted scenes (HD 09:47), five additional interviews (HD 40:51), three archival footage segments (HD 04:36), Ploughshares Fund PSA (HD 04:38), a letter from the filmmakers, up-front previews, and BD-Live functionality.
The 1.78:1 1080p AVC picture, as with other History Channel presentations, is documentary-quality throughout with a variation in imagery quality due to low-quality archive footage, noise, and other artifacts. Still, while the image quality is rather underwhelming, the dramatic visuals make the point that people live in an extremely dangerous world under the threat. (Gary Reber)
The DTS-HD Master Audioô 5.1-channel soundtrack meets all of the documentary's limited aural demands and features excellent narration quality, supported with commentary that is always intelligible. Composer Peter Golub's music score heightens the mood in this pre-apocalyptic depiction of nuclear catastrophe. Gary Oldman's narration is perfectly balanced, and the interviews with the various experts and officials are consistently intelligible. The message is the focus, which comes through loud and clear. (Gary Reber)