Series Review: Chernobyl (2019)

Usually I make some kind of cute remarks in these intros that relate to the thing I’m reviewing. But in this case I just can’t. There’s nothing clever I can say. So I guess we should just get into the review itself.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Chernobyl”.

The Chernobyl power plant, Ukraine, April 1986. It’s in the middle of the night. The people working the plant notice something going awry. The core has exploded. So we follow in the aftermath of that, showing how it affects the people either working the plant or trying to stop it from getting worse. We also get to see how scientist Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) tries to figure out ways to fix it, while dealing with all the red tape of the Soviet government. So now we have our historical drama. And man, this is a fucking masterclass in storytelling. Sure, it doesn’t give you any major twists or turns, but it instead takes the relatively straightforward events and tells them in a very nuanced, respectful, and anxiety-inducing way. There isn’t a scene in this show that didn’t have me on the edge of my seat. It may not technically be listed as horror, but it sure as hell felt like it at times.

The characters in this all feel layered, flawed, nuanced, realistic, and overall very interesting. Jared Harris plays Valery Legasov, the scientist put in charge of trying to fix the whole conundrum of the Chernobyl explosion. He’s one of those people who tries to make sense of everything, but also gets frustrated when people won’t listen to him. And it’s interesting to see him go through the various issues he has to deal with in the series. And Harris is fantastic in the role. We also get performances from people like Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson, Jessie Buckley, Barry Keoghan, Con O’Neill, Paul Ritter, David Dencik, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for “Chernobyl” was composed by Hildur Guðnadóttir, and it was fantastic. It’s dark, it’s eerie, it’s emotional, it’s anxiety-inducing… it’s exactly the kind of score that is befitting of the storytelling. So yeah, it fits quite well.

Based on the horrifying nuclear disaster in 1986, the show was created and written by Craig Mazin, with Johan Renck directing. And the craft behind this is stellar. The direction is always eerie, never letting up any of the suspense. It’s claustrophobic, but also intimate with its characters, really bringing you into their personal struggles. And the cinematography by Jakob Ihre is quite eerie too.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 9,7/10 and is ranked #1 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

“Chernobyl” isn’t a fun show… but it is quite fantastic. It has a great plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Chernobyl” is a 9,94/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Chernobyl” is now completed.

You know what’s interesting? The guy who wrote this show also wrote the “Hangover” sequels and some of the later “Scary Movie” entries.

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Movie Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

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Remakes are something I always have a bad feeling about. I am cautiously optimistic if trailers look good, even though the entire thing can go to shit. A lot of remakes actually do go to shit… like Tim Burton’s “Planet of the Apes” remake. There are a few remakes that I like though, such as “Godzilla” (2014) and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”. And if you’re wondering about my thoughts on the “RoboCop” remake then I can tell you that it wasn’t bad… just a little boring. Anyway, today we are taking a look at a remake I was not positive about since it is based on source material coming from my home country, Sweden. I was also afraid that they could never get as good as the original Swedish movies. I was not optimistic about it at all… until I a few years later saw that it was directed by David Fincher (“Fight Club”, “Se7en”) who is a director I really like. Then I got a little hope. And now we are talking about it on my blog… oh yes.

Girls and boys… “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”.

I can’t compare story on this and the original movie because it is basically the same story, so I know it will be good. Here is the basic story: Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) got some legal problems. So then after those problems have erupted and taken to court he is for some reason hired by rich person Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to find out what happened to his niece Harriett a long time ago. But Mikael doesn’t have to go through it alone since he gets help from mysterious hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). And dark, twisted, weird and interesting things happens after that. The idea of the story is one that I really find interesting because it shows the worst in human beings and what can drive people to do certain things. And how is the execution here? It is honestly pretty fucking good. I was really worried how Hollywood could take a Swedish story that got Swedish characters and is set in Sweden and make it at least decent. But Fincher once again proves that he knows what he is doing with his directing skills. The exectuion here didn’t feel sloppy or forced in any way, it just (surprisingly) worked. There were a few details that were changed, but nothing too major. So the execution was overall good.

The characters stay true to how they were in the books and original movies. They all have their little issues that make them unique and they are portrayed well here. I was especially impressed with how great Rooney Mara was as Lisbeth. Sure she is no Noomi Rapace, but she definitely gets the job done. The only problem character/acting based in this movie was how some people had stupid accents while some sounded like they should. Case in point: Daniel Cragi sounds like Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara got a weird accent going. It is nothing really game-breaking in this movie, but it just sounds a little weird.

The soundtrack by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor was dark, chilling, depressing and overall fantastic. It really helped set the mood of the movie (dark, creepy, tense, depressing, cold, isolated). And when it comes to the music I have to touch on the brilliant selection of song for the opening credits. Especially since David Fincher movies usually have opening credits with good/fitting songs. And in this case the song is a very dark and weird cover of “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin. I really think it worked to the movie’s advantage and really helped set the mood for it early.

Back on the topic of the opening credits, the song is great, the visuals are trippy and awesome and the opening credits are in general great. But I shouldn’t expect anything less from a David Fincher movie. And with that said, the camera work in this movie is fan-fucking-tastic! David Fincher is pretty much the king of making good looking movies with a dark and dirty tone. Also, fun fact: This movie was actually shot in Sweden just so they could get everything right. Good job, people!

Now ow did this movie do among people and critics? Well it actually did pretty good. On Rotten Tomaotes it got an 86% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a 71/100. Roger Ebert really seemed to like it since he gave it 3,5/4 stars (his score for the original movie was 4/4 stars if you’re wondering). On imdb.com this movie has a 7,9/10. It also won 1 Oscar for Best Film Editing. But it also had an additional 4 nominations; Best Leading actress, Best cinematography, Best sound mixing, Best sound editing.

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is a remake that actually works and doesn’t buthcer the source material. It also got great performances, a good soundtrack and is directed with extreme care. Time for the final score. My final score for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is a 9,01/10. I really feel like this movie could have been better so it doesn’t get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”, but it is definitely worth buying.

Review of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is now done.

I was seriously ready to hate on this movie.