On April 26, 1986, scientists at a nuclear power plant in Russia commenced a safety test. As they work on a nuclear reactor, things fatefully goes awry when the nuclear reactor core starts to overheat, due improper care and lack of decent resources causing it to blow up. Over the course of two years, radiation spreads all over Pripyat with civilians suffering from deadly radiation, firefighters & scientists risked their lives to prevent the nuclear reactor from spreading across the nation. To this day, Chernobyl remains as one of the most tragic events in history marking the end of The Soviet Union which dissolved in 1991, Pripyat remains as a ghost town & a still radiated Chernobyl is currently off limits to prevent a future epidemic from happening.
In 2017, HBO green-lit a five-part mini-series based on the titular disaster. During development, Jared Harris, (Mad Men, Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows) Stellan Skarsgård (first two Pirates Of The Caribbean sequels, Eric Selvig from The Avengers) & Emily Watson (Punch-Drunk Love, Gosford Park, Red Dragon) signed up as the main leads. The Cast & Crew filmed specific scenes in Vilnius to recreate Pripyat. After a two year gap of production, HBO’s Chernobyl was finished.
Chernobyl aired in 2019. It received universal acclaim from critics. So far, IMDb ranked it as the top rated show outranking “Breaking Bad,” “Game Of Thrones” & “The Wire.” Talk about a huge milestone! Many of us are gonna predict that Chernobyl will possibly earn numerous nominations at “The Golden Globes, “Screen Actors Guild” & Primetime Emmys.”
Today’s review doesn’t contain any huge SPOILERS. Feel free to read my non-spoiler article. Some SPOILERS are light, because we all know what happened.
Positive: Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård & Emily Watson all did a fantastic job for their respective performances as Valery Legasov, Boris Shcherbina & Ulana Khomyuk.
Screenwriter Craig Mazin (The Hangover sequels, Identity Thief) did an excellent job developing the mini-series. In 2014, he did extensive research of the real life tragedy’s timeline in an attempt to replicate key events.
Johan Renck did an excellent job directing all five parts.
Over the course of five parts, all heck breaks loose as scientists, firefighters & the citizens of Ukraine suffer internal & external trauma resulting from the explosion’s effects. To show us viewers how much pressure they’ve been through.
Vilnius was used as a filming location to recreate Pripyat’s environment as we all know that the real Pripyat is unauthorized for a film crew.
Primary Themes for Chernobyl are Power, Greed, Truth, Morality & Deception. The latter theme is still disturbing relevant whether we need to trust our government or ignore politicians who refuse to give us confidential insight.
The Mini-Series shows us the consequences on not taking proper care of a nuclear power plant without decent resources. We don’t want history to repeat itself all over again.
Valery serves a purpose as he tries to rescue many civilians as much as he can & try to shut down the nuclear reactor.
Valery has a dark secret as revealed in the fourth part.
Throughout a five part story, individuals suffer from radiation effects both physically & mentally. Coughing, hair loss & skin turning red are the symptoms.
Boris Shcherbina also serves a purpose as a reasonable authority figure as he aides Valery’s quest.
Ulana Khomyuk serves a key role.
If you already watched the entire mini-series, you can listen to a podcast about details surrounding the history of the disaster & production of the five part story.
Negative: The real life Chernobyl disaster is still shockingly relevant. We live in an era with North Korea developing nuclear weapons not facing unethical consequences.
Almost every actor speaks in an English accent rather than a Russian accent.
Shaky Cam is present in several scenes.
Part I – 1:23:45
Good: Part I’s title is named after the time where it all began.
The Opening Scene establishes Valery Legasov’s words about the disaster.
Scientists & Firefighters do whatever they can to keep the power plant stable at all costs.
The final shot show us things are about to get worse, much worse.
Bad: Camera at times suffers from a bad case of Shaky Cam.
Part II – Please Remain Calm
Stable: A “science lesson” is discussed by Legasov centering around radiation’s cause & effect.
Citizens evacuate Pripyat. It’s currently a ghost town still radiated.
The Soviets attempt to cool down the reactor core.
Valery & Boris hire helicopter pilots to put out a fire.
Three people volunteer to shut a water valve down.
Unstable: Camera continues to suffer from Shaky Cam.
Part III – Open Wide, O Earth
Full: Legasov comes up with yet another risky plan.
Coal Miners are recruited for an important job willing to take a risk in order to save an entire nation.
A huge consequence happened to an individual.
Empty: More Shaky Cam is present.
Part IV – The Happiness Of All Mankind
Happy: Soldiers are forced to do an unethical moral. Either spare a creature, or let it roam the entire nation spreading an epidemic killing millions.
Legasov & Boris must find a way to remove radiated fragments.
Part IV’s ending is a downer as a result of one person’s reckless actions which serves as a cautionary tale on what not to do if someone you know is under quarantine.
For those who know their history about The Soviet Union, they have an agenda involving nuclear power.
Sad: Shaky Cam is becoming a nuisance. Do I have to remind you again? Does anybody know how to hold a camera still?
If you’re an animal lover, it’s very uncomfortable for four legged animals annihilated by soldiers. As I’ve stated why they had to make an unethical decision, it was to prevent them from roaming the world. Otherwise, a radiated epidemic will make things worse.
Part V – Vichnaya Pamyat
Float: The final part finishes the mini-series.
Flashbacks show Chernobyl scientists performing a test run before all heck broke loose.
Valery, Boris & Ulana go to trial as they try to convince The Jury about the cause of the nuclear reactor’s explosion.
The Jury made their decision.
If you remember the opening scene with Valery recording his words on tape, there’s a reason what he did to deliver a message to humanity & the cost of thousands sacrificing themselves in order to protect a nation.
Valery & Boris have a conversation.
The Mini-Series reveals the fate of prominent figures, aftermath & status quo of Chernobyl.
Sink: Shaky Cam is still active. Is Woody Woodpecker in charge of shooting a camera?
The Final Verdict: B, FOR BRILLIANT!
In my opinion, Chernobyl is an entertaining mini-series retelling a horrific tragedy costing many lives of people, firefighters & scientists sacrificing themselves to prevent the nuclear reactor from becoming an epidemic. Performances, writing, directing & faithful retelling of a tragic true story are big reasons on why it’s worth a watch. If you’re fascinated with history or looking for something to watch worth your spare time, I highly recommend it. HBO deserves a nomination for “Best Mini-Series” at “The Golden Globes” & “Primetime Emmys.”
R.I.P. scientists, firefighters & the citizens of Chernobyl. Your ultimate sacrifice taught us ethical consequences if we don’t take care of resources. Otherwise, we don’t want another disaster to happen again.