AVS Discussions
  Go Down

Chernobyl (UHD Blu-ray) review

Chernobyl (UHD Blu-ray) review
« on: November 25, 2020, 09:48:09 PM »


Studio: HBO / Warner  
 Release Date: December 1, 2020
Rating:  Not Rated
Mini-series:  4/5
 
 Plot
 On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, Soviet Union suffered a massive explosion that released radioactive material across Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, and as far as Scandinavia and western Europe. This gripping five-part miniseries follows the tragedy from the onset of the early-morning explosion through the chaos and loss of life in the ensuing days, weeks and months.
 
Jared Harris portrays Valery Legasov, a leading Soviet nuclear physicist who was one of the first to grasp the scope of the unparalleled disaster that occurred. Stellan Skarsgård plays Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Boris Shcherbina, who is assigned by the Kremlin to lead the government commission on Chernobyl in the hours immediately following the accident. Emily Watson portrays Ulana Khomyuk, a Soviet nuclear physicist committed to solving the mystery of what led to the Chernobyl disaster.
 
 
 My Thoughts
 Stories based on real events are always compelling but when they deviate from facts by too large of measure, they start to lose their impact. As a TV show, this is compelling and has a great narrative, but from a factual point of view, it’s sometimes lacking. But, and it’s a big BUT, when it gets the facts right, it’s right on the nose. For example, the way the former Soviet government felt about its people is right on the nose because they had zero regard for human life—absolutely none. There were no individuals—all were products of the State and your individual life means nothing. Also, in the final episode, the show depicts exactly how Soviet courts worked and how the Central Committee ruled the land with an iron fist, no questions asked.
 
Unfortunately, when it veers off course, it becomes somewhat far-fetched. Too many people are threatened that if they don’t obey, they will be shot. This really didn’t happen late in the Soviet regime because they were so frequent early in the regime that the people towed the line out of strict obedience. Other leaps of logic have to do with some of the characters, or shall I say, caricatures of how real-life Soviets would have acted—yes, I’m talking about Ulyana Khomyuk—she’s like a Hollywood writer’s wet dream. Granted, she is a “made up” character who is supposed to be the embodiment of a plethora of scientists that investigated the cause of the disaster.
 
Am I being hyper critical? Yes, because unfortunately the vast majority of people who will watch this film will think it’s the complete truth and it’s far from it. If you want the truth, read Nobel Prize for Literature winner Svetlana Alexievich’s book “Voices from Chernobyl.” Also, the claim at the end of the series that there was “a dramatic spike in cancer rates across Ukraine and Belarus” is completely false. According to the WHO, residents were “exposed to doses slightly above natural background radiation levels.” For further background, check out Chapter 8 of Michael Shellenberger’s excellent book, “Apocalypse Never.”
 
With all that being said, let’s assume that this is completely a work of fiction and not based on real life events. If that’s the case, this easily is a five-star production. It has compelling characters, a man-made disaster that impacts thousands of lives, and the one of the biggest and unlikable villains of all-time—the Soviet government. If looking at the production through that lens, it’s wildly entertaining.
 
The presentation is good, not great, mainly due to the way the film was shot. The original source was 3.2K and that was upscaled to a 4K DI, which means the detail is excellent. It’s authenticity on the poor lighting of Soviet-era buildings does not lead the show to be demo worthy—it’s dark and dingy for the majority of the film. If you’re expecting a reference-quality 4K presentation that will highlight the benefits of HDR, you’ll be wildly disappointed. The audio track has some moment where it comes to life, namely during the reactor meltdown sequence in the first episode, but the main focus of the show is the dialog, which is always intelligible.

  
 Video 8.5/10 
 
 Audio 9/10 (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
 
 Special Features:
 
  • Meet the Key Players
  • Inside the Episode
  • Behind the Curtain: Director Johan Renck
  • Script to Screen: The Divers
  • Pivotal Moment: The Trial
  • UHD + Blu-ray + Digital Code
 

 
 

 
 Conclusion
 I love a Hollywood product as much as the next guy, but when something is based on real-life events, it really needs to contain a tighter narrative that sticks closer to the facts unless it leads with a disclaimer for the audience not to take the story as a literal recreation of the events. Regardless, if you know this going in you can enjoy the film and be entertained, just not educated—take a look at the books I referenced above if that’s your goal. Recommended for the entertainment value.  
 

 
 Reference Review System:
  
 
Reference Review System:
 JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
 (Calibrated with Portrait Displays CalMAN color calibration software & C6-HDR Meter from Portrait Displays)
 Stewart Filmscreen - Firehawk 110” 2.35:1 Fixed Screen
 Anthem AVM60 Audio/Video Processor 
 ATI AT527NC Powering Bed Channels

ATI AT524NC Powering Atmos Speakers
 Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player 
 System Controller: URC MX-980

M&K S-150 THX Ultra (R-C-L Speakers)
M&K SS-150 x4 (Surround Speakers)
 Atlantic Technology IC6-OBA x 4 Overhead Speakers
 SVS PC-Ultra Cylinder Subwoofer
 HSU VTF-15H MK2 Subwoofer
 JL Audio Fathom F110 Subwoofers x 2 (stacked)

JL Audio Dominion D110 Subwoofer x 2 (stacked)

Mini DSP HD controlling all subwoofers
 Audioquest and Monoprice - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
 PureAV PF60 Power Conditioner
Blu-ray Reviewer / Technical Writer
Sound & Vision Magazine

Re: Chernobyl (UHD Blu-ray) review
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2020, 11:15:05 AM »
Unfortunately I was stationed in England when this disaster happened. The denial by the Soviet Union at the time was criminal. Due to perceived exposure. I wasn't allowed to donate blood to the Red Cross for many years.

Thanks Mr Vaughn for the excellent review, I think you'd get more bang for your buck going with the Blu-ray instead. 

Re: Chernobyl (UHD Blu-ray) review
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2020, 11:24:38 AM »
Unfortunately I was stationed in England when this disaster happened. The denial by the Soviet Union at the time was criminal. Due to perceived exposure. I wasn't allowed to donate blood to the Red Cross for many years.

Thanks Mr Vaughn for the excellent review, I think you'd get more bang for your buck going with the Blu-ray instead.
I can't disagree. The video quality between the two is minimal given the way it was shot. 
Blu-ray Reviewer / Technical Writer
Sound & Vision Magazine

  Go Up
 

SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2021, SimplePortal