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Johan Renck
Emily Watson, Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård
Craig Mazin

In April 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics becomes one of the world's worst man-made catastrophes.


Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Spanish DTS 2.0
Castillian DTS 2.0
Czech DTS 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 338 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 10/1/19

• “Inside the Episodes” Featurettes
• “What Is Chernobyl?” Featurette
• “Meet the Key Players” Featurettes
• “Behind the Curtain” Featurette
• “Script to Screen” Featurette
• “Pivotal Moment” Featurette


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver;
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer.


Chernobyl [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 22, 2020)

Back in 1986, a nuclear plant in Ukraine suffered an explosion. This caused a severe disaster.

With 2019’s Chernobyl, we get a five-episode HBO mini-series that looks at the topic. We get these shows across two Blu-rays. The plot synopses come from the HBO website.

1:23:45: “Plant workers and firefighters put their lives on the line to control a catastrophic 1986 explosion at a Soviet nuclear power plant.”

With an episode like this, we expect an intro to the characters and situations. In this case, “1:23:45” serves the latter more than the former, as it doesn’t dig into the roles who will dominate the next four shows in a major way.

However, that seems fine, as “1:23:45” conveys the horror of the disaster and its potential ramifications. The episode acts as a dramatic and powerful launching point.

Please Remain Calm: “With millions at risk after the explosion, Ulana Khomyuk (Emily Watson) tries to warn Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) about a second threat.”

Whereas “1:23:45” focuses mainly on the big picture of the nuclear catastrophe, “Calm” digs into the story in a more personal level, so we get a better view of the series’ main characters. They help add a personal air to the drama and allow this to become an urgent, gripping episode.

Open Wide, O Earth: “Lyudmilla Ignatenko (Jessie Buckley) ignores warnings about her firefighter husband Vasily’s (Adam Nagaitis) contamination. Legasov lays out a decontamination plan, complete with human risks.”

Three episodes in and the only minor misstep from Chernobyl relates to the Lyudmilla story. The choice to involve young lovers feels contrived, and though it does help personalize the disaster’s impact, it feels a little Lifetime Channel.

Despite that small concern, “Earth” manages to become another strong program. It conveys the continuing threat in a tense manner and pushes along the over narrative well. I could live without the full-frontal nudity of the miners, though.

The Happiness of All Mankind: “Legasov and Boris Shcherbina (Stellan Skarsgård) consider using lunar rovers to remove radioactive debris, while Khomyuk faces government hurdles in determining the truth about the cause of the explosion.”

Four episodes into the five-show run, Chernobyl becomes more about reactions to the disaster than issues connected to the catastrophe itself. This trend lends a layer of intrigue, as we see how various folks tried to get out the truth in the repressive Soviet society. It turns into another engaging program that pushes us toward the finale well.

Vichnaya Pamyat: “Legasov, Shcherbina and Khomyuk risk their lives and reputations to expose the truth about Chernobyl.”

With the finale, we focus largely on a courtroom drama, as the episode covers the trial to get to the bottom of what happened at the power plant. Of course, the USSR wasn’t exactly a place concerned with the whole truth, so that complicates matters and gives the testimony extra sizzle.

Though this might make “Pamyat” sound like a stiff ending to the series, instead it brings a taut, tense exploration of what happened to cause the disaster and the human cost. It becomes a strong conclusion to a consistently dramatic and powerful narrative.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C-

Chernobyl appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.00:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The shows looked good.

Overall sharpness seemed solid. A little softness impacted a few interiors, but the majority of the episodes delivered tight, concise imaging.

I saw no signs of jaggies or shimmering, and edge haloes remained absent. The shows displayed no source flaws either.

Colors tended toward a mix of grungy green, teal and orange. Within stylistic choices, the hues appeared well-rendered, if never particularly appealing. Given that this series looked at a nuclear disaster, though, I didn’t expect perky hues, so the relatively ugly tones made sense.

Blacks came across as dark and deep, and shadows followed suit. Low-light shots displayed nice clarity and smoothness. All in all, the episodes provided positive picture quality.

As for the series’ DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it packed a good punch when necessary. This meant the majority of the active audio occurred due to elements connected to the nuclear disaster, of course.

Those create a fine sense of the material, and not just with the loud explosions. Other components like the creaks and groans at the plant added a strong sense of environment as well, and we got various moving vehicles such as helicopters to add to the impression.

General atmosphere seemed positive, as the mix consistently felt involving. Music also used the speakers as an active partner.

Audio quality also appeared fine. Music was lively and full, while speech appeared natural and distinctive.

Effects worked well, as they showed good accuracy and range. Low-end seemed tight and full. I felt the audio complemented the story nicely.

For all five programs, we get Inside the Episodes featurettes. These fill a total of 14 minutes, 36 seconds and boast comments from executive producer/writer Craig Mazin, director Johan Renck, makeup designer Daniel Parker, production designer Luke Hull, and actors Jared Harris, Emily Watson, and Stellan Skarsgård

The “Inside” clips look at story/characters, photography, attempts at realism, and history. These offer a smattering of good details but they tend to feel somewhat superficial.

On Disc One, What Is Chernobyl? goes for one minute, 38 seconds and brings info from Mazin, Renck, Watson, Harris, and Skarsgård. We get a few notes on the history of the nuclear disaster but this remains a largely promotional reel.

Three clips appear under Meet the Key Players: “The Professor” (1:46), “The Apparatchik” (1:56) and “The Scientist” (1:56). Across these, we hear from Renck, Mazin, Watson, Harris, and Skarsgård. They give us basics about the lead roles in these mediocre overviews.

On Disc Two, Behind the Curtain spans one minute, 37 seconds and features Mazin and Renck. We learn a little of Renck’s approach to the material, but the program lacks depth.

Script to Screen goes for one minute, 23 seconds and involves Renck and Mazin. This one brings some brief thoughts about one scene. It remains fluffy and without much informational value.

Finally, Pivotal Moment runs two minutes, 12 seconds and brings notes from Mazin, Watson, Harris and Renck. We get a view of the trial in the final episode. Like the others, the featurette comes with a couple minor insights but it doesn’t tell us much of value.

A bracing view of a real-life disaster, Chernobyl delivers a powerful drama. It mixes the facts with a human view of the catastrophe to become a vivid, devastating take on the subject matter. The Blu-rays offer very good picture and audio but bonus materials feel superficial. Expect a terrific historical tale here.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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