Chernobyl appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.00:1 on these 4K UHD Discs. Presented via Dolby Vision, 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, and the 4K’s HDR added range to the hues.
Blacks came across as dark and deep, and shadows followed suit. Low-light shots displayed nice clarity and smoothness, and the HDR brought extra impact to whites and contrast. 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.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Audio remained identical, as both featured the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 mixes.
A true 4K product, the Dolby Vision visuals demonstrated improvements – within the potential of the project, that is. Given the intentionally grim, dingy design choices, the 4K treatment won’t make this a title to show off your TV’s capabilities.
Still, the 4K offered superior sharpness and dynamic range, with colors that became more accurate, deeper blacks and stronger contrast. The end result remained intentionally “ugly” enough to keep this at a “B+”, but the 4K clearly turned into the more satisfying rendition of the series.
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.
The package also includes a Blu-ray copy of the series. It includes he same extras as the 4Ks.
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 4Ks offer very good picture and audio but bonus materials feel superficial. Expect a terrific historical tale here.
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