#316 -- Chernobyl Diaries (2012)

Director: Bradley Parker
Rating: 3.5 / 5

At first look, the story here seems extremely interesting. The idea of abandoned towns is intriguing on its own, but add in a group of people apparently experiencing some horrible things there, and you've got the potential for something really great. I was really interested in Chernobyl Diaries when I first saw an ad for it, but I put off watching it because I thought it was a found footage movie -- which is something I'm never all  that fond of. But I took the plunge and realized that it's actually not, which was good. I also realized that it's a pretty good movie.

A group of friends were travelling through Europe when they were talked into taking an extreme tour of the town that was abandoned by the Chernobyl disaster. The group was led by Uri, who specialized in extreme tours. At first, it seemed like an average tour through an interesting part of the area's history, and Uri assured them that they would be safe. The soldiers that were guarding the area, however, thought differently. They wouldn't allow them to enter; but Uri wouldn't let that stop him. He took them to a different entrance out in the woods, and they began their tour. Surely, the fact that their tour guide wasn't allowed to enter should have been there first sign that it wasn't such a great idea; but they were looking for an adventure, and an adventure was what they were going to get. When car trouble prevented them from leaving, Uri went out searching for some help and was killed by a pack of radioactive dogs. One of the others was injured by the dogs, making it impossible for him to do much of anything. Once the rest of the group realized just how dire their situation was, they went out in search of help as well. Along the way, they discovered that, along with the radioactive dogs, there were apparently radioactive people as well. It became a struggle to find their way through the city that became a maze, all the while trying to avoid the dogs and zombie-like creatures.

All of that is great, but I feel like the movie wasn't as good as it could have been. The so-called radioactive dogs just looked like normal German Shepherds. It never gave a really good look at the people, so I'm not sure what they looked like. I can only assume that they were zombies, because...well, I like zombies. You can make your own assumptions on that point. Other than that, I was entertained by the movie. The characters weren't the best, but they were good. There was the soon-to-be-engaged couple, the big brother, the newlyweds, and of course, the loner. One half of the soon-to-be-engaged was played by Jesse McCartney, so I was destined to root for him. I spent a good two or three years of my life (from around ages 9-12) dreaming about going to New York and making him fall in love with me. So, there's that. His big brother was played by Jonathan Sadowski, who was in the newest Friday the 13th. Naturally, that gave him a special spot as well. But it wasn't just who they were that made me like the characters. I actually did like these two guys. Chris (McCartney) was the sweet one, getting ready to pop the question. He and Paul had the typical big-bro/little-bro relationship, and I think they did a really good job. The rest of the characters were okay, but my main focus was on these two.

A lot of people seem to have issues with this movie for different reasons. How it was made, or the fact that it was based on such a tragic event. None of that matters. I had some issues with it as well, but they were far from major. What it boils down to is entertainment. I never lost interest, and it kept me wanting more. The ending, though not at all what I'd hoped for, made sense and worked perfectly with the story. So, at the end of the day, Chernobyl Diaries was a success in my eyes.

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