Reviews: The Hot Zone - IMDb

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  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'm going back to school and get a degree in biology because after watching this show, I'm totally confused by the protocols. In the first episode, we see this woman exposed to a deadly virus thru a torn suit in a highly secure biohazard lab. Maybe if she wasn't yaking so much, she wouldn't have torn her suit. Then instead of being quarantined for weeks (which they keep mentioning throughout the show), she's released and out on the street chasing infected monkeys. She and another joker go into a private lab wearing tyvek suits (because they said so) where she's spit in the face by a sick, angry monkey but it's okay because she's wearing plastic goggles with holes. To be fair, I'm not picking on the ridiculous protection. I've seen people better protected removing asbestos but you have to wonder if tyvek suits and plastic eye goggles and bleach are all you need to fight this virus why is everyone screaming 'the sky is falling'. And really, there's no other way to kill this caged up angry monkey other than open the door and lasso it and stick it with a needle on a stick? Her husband is chief vet and this is what they come up with? Is this virus really dangerous or not? In one scene they clean up the contagion with a bottle of bleach, which she just conveniently pops over to get on foot during rush hour in DC, and then drives her blood contaminated car back home and parks it in the garage for her husband and kids to use. If they had put just a fraction of investment in the story as they did in the special effects this might have been something but instead I still found it entertaining but not how they intended, I'm sure. Science, Schmience, this is just silly.
  • The cast is excellent, but they can't save the bad writing and worse pacing. I read the Richard Preston book back in 1994, and again last month when I heard about this miniseries. The book is an accurate accounting of the real events of 1989, and it's an edge-of-your-seat exciting read. This miniseries takes the same event and manages to drag it out with unnecessary backstories, wooden dialogue, and a dozen cliches. Then there are the blatantly incorrect representations of protocol in a lab environment. (I was in the medical field in 1989, and we did have strict ppe protocols.) My advice is to treat this as pure fiction, loosely based on the facts of the actual events. Get the true story from the book.
  • In addition to all the inaccuracies documented in these comments, another thing that ruins this miniseries is all the relationship crap. Husband-wife spats. Teenagers acting all scared. People getting up out of bed to kiss, then getting back in bed and dying. And why is Colonel Jaxx's father in this at all? To show you can die of other things besides Ebola?

    If you want to see a good disaster miniseries, check out CHERNOBYL on HBO. Not a bunch of mothers worried about their teenagers. Yuk.
  • Having read the book any number of times, I was delighted to see Nat Geo produce a miniseries. The story of filoviruses is terrifying, and this particular story is scary enough without the addition of 'jump scares' and absurdist storylines. It's a shame that NatGeo felt the need to add such ridiculous drama to what is already a powerful story. It makes what should be a powerful and sobering message and makes it into a hoary mess. The cast is talented enough, and the events are important enough, that they could have spoken for themselves.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This was the 80s. PPE wasn't worn as is today in many industries; including work with non-human primates.

    No matter the dramatic flare or details left out of the movie, what could have happened within the U.S. , didn't, because of a mutation. Plain and simple. The potential for devastation and loss within our borders without that mutation would have the crisis, loss and trauma of 9/11 pale in comparison.

    This all happened right around Thanksgiving and some of the people working in Reston had been exposed (prior to knowledge or quarantine) were getting on airplanes and visiting families for the holiday. If it would have been Ebola Zaire, every state in the US could have been affected before it was even discovered.

    So, maybe instead of getting bogged down with details of this or that, appreciate the bigger story, the bigger picture and the blessing of a simple mutation.
  • I have not read the book, but I will now. Having worked in a Virology lab with someone who eventually was doing research at USAMRIID made this very personal for me. I realized right off that there were inaccuracies, starting with the man with pustulent sores on the airplane, right up to Julianna's character doing viral cultures, which would be done by a virologist, not a veterinary pathophysiologist. However, having loved the movie "Outbreak", my first comment about this to a friend was that it was like "Outbreak" turned into a series. We are truly only one airplane passenger away from such an outbreak, and if the show did nothing but make people aware of that fact, then it has served its purpose. If everyone can remember, Ebola did make it to the US, via air travel, and also was communicated to a nurse caring for a patient once hospitalized. I cannot even begin to imagine the terror of being. In a Biolevel 4 and realizing you had a tear in your suit.

    Accuracy. No. Does it serve a purpose? Absolutely. Thank you, National Geographic. I wish it were lasting longer than 6 episodes.
  • unonjacke30 May 2019
    Read the book when it came out and it scared me pretty badly. The series started out well but as we got to the last few episodes everything that could go wrong did for overly dramatic effect. The situation with Ebola is scary enough without the overly contrived situation. Additionally Liam Cunningham as Wade Carter started out doing American accent but by the end of the series sounded like he just got off the ship from Ireland.
  • A reviewer called this a Lifetime movie and they were right. Took a highly interesting topic like Ebola fighters and turned it into melodramatic mush. This could've been so much better as a 3 parter with all the useless crap cut out. See Outbreak for a better version of story on the same subject matter.
  • EBV does not stand for Ebola virus but for Epstein-Barr virus. Ebola's acronym is EVD.
  • The "drama" was far too phony. Could have easily allowed the story to be dramatic without forcing the acting into over-zealousness. For example, two scientists were moving frozen monkeys from one car trunk into another to take for testing, and were overly dramatic about not being able to keep the monkeys frozen, and they would thaw along the way...while they were parked in the lot of Quick-Shop...right in front of an ice machine!!! That pretty much sums up how the first two episodes went.
  • Folks, c'mon. What happened to watching a show for entertainment value? It's "based on," not a documentary.

    Stop getting bent out of shape and just watch it. Or don't. I liked it. Especially coming from a book, there is always going to be a high level creative license involved to create the drama, suspense and fear.
  • First the show is neither great nor bad, it's just another inspired by from a book story with some really good actors and some good new faces. The story though should scare everyone because it is when not if we will see Ebola outside of Africa again. The dramatization to push that point home is where the show differs from the book, facts, and the actual true story based on several articles I have read.

    I've not read the book, but I have read articles checking on the story accuracy and it probably deserves a C at best for how faithful it is and an A for making sure to repeat the words that it is inspired by a true story. Some of the errors are general that things are/were simply not the way it is told, and some of the errors challenge the words inspired by because the story is changed from the actual events in fairly dramatic ways.

    Having said all that, it's better than many other stories (like the Spanish Princess for example), and the acting is considerably better. Take the review with a grain of salt as 5 people rated this at 4.3 before it even aired, and as you can see for another review someone watched 5 minutes and made a decision.

    If nothing else, it should scare the absolute socks off everyone because where the story deviates from fact, it shows us what it could be like old Europe with the number of dead we could have had.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This series got off to a good start and the first 3 episodes provided some genuine suspense. But then the script began to get stupid and ridiculous. A virus-exposed lab worker in a hazmat suit slumped down on the floor of a decontamination room and they don't assume a potential infection? A cut on a hand at home and somehow the blood finds a way to the outside of a protective glove? Intermittent power in a research facility caused by a monkey virus?? A missing cover at the top of an air duct at the same facility?? Really??? I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that if you have any knowledge of how things work in the real world, the The Hot Zone will frustrate and disappoint you over and over again.

    If it were not for the always fine acting of Julianna Margulies, I would have given this horrifically inaccurate and unbelievable series only 1 star. Wow, but what a disappointment. I'm astonished that National Geographic couldn't do any better than this.
  • It is ridiculous that they don't where general personal protective equipment in the BL1 lab! Also real scientists would open unknown animal samples in a biosafety cabinet to ensure that neither they or the sample get contaminated. Contact me if you need a technical consultant that knows about lab safety!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've seen the first two episodes. This is similar to the Dustin Hoffman movie, "Outbreak" from 1986 which concerned the spread to the U.S. of a deadly African-origin pathogen. However, this show differs from the true-life book on the subject of the Virginia outbreak. In the real story, the pathogen outbreak happens, but it was harmless to humans, though they didn't know that at first. There are some science faux-pas (most of which 99% of the audience won't catch) here and people do things they would never do in real-life, but it's fiction and some of the science is actually good and interesting. This is partly because they had a science expert advising them. Would I have done it differently? Yes, I'd have stuck closer to the science but then I'm not producer. Definitely worth watching though.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There's a scene where they go in to euthanize a monkey at a facility that houses multiple primates. You'd assume they would have all the proper equipment to handle and deal with primates right on site. Their supposed to be professionals, one is a world renowned Dr the other a Colonel in the US Army. They get suited up and go in to restrain the monkey and inject it. The restraint is an old fashioned mop with the mop and bar removed and the needle is a syringe stuck to the end of a wooden pole. I mean COME ON this is a multi million dollar primate facility. A mop and a stick? 💩
  • It's been a long time since I've read Preston's book the Hot Zone but I remember being scared sleepless by his book. More so when I realized that I frequently visited the office park where the Hazelton Lab was located, just a couple years before the event took place. The mini series makes the lab out to be a cavernous old 30's era industrial building. It was actually a one story office park building from the early 70's. There was a central parking lot surrounded on 4 sides by a variety of small businesses renting space in the office park , including the printing company I visited on a regular basis. It's the banality of the office park setting that chilled me when I read the book and it scares me still. It was not a fenced off derelict building, people came and went right outside the front door of the lab every single day. When they cleaned that lab out, they didn't seal off the whole area - they did it at night and on weekends. There were probably people working in some of those other buildings on late shifts. They got lucky they caught it in time. That virus is called Ebola-Reston. It could have been Reston - the town that Ebola killed.

    That said - I thought the series caught the fear, claustrophobia and exhaustion of the HAZMAT Team. Also, how inter agency competition was making the problem worse not better. The kids playing next door are a tired trope, how about a Mom in a station wagon dropping off her PTA newsletter for printing? that probably really happened.

    Read the book and be prepared to have some sleepless nights.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Go see outbreak instead and save yourself the extra 8 hours of BAD acting and plot holes. I mean, WHO wouldn't chase a live animal and simply close the cage on the sick one and come back to it later? If this is accurate depiction of our usmiirid we are all dead if it happens.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I am 5 minutes into the series and it's so ridiculous, I will not waste my time. In the opening scene a man is violently ill in his house, his maid calls a taxi (I assumed to take him to the hospital), but no, in the next scene he is on an airplane and has sores all over his face. So, you want me to believe a man that can hardly walk, is helped into a cab by his maid, somehow is able to board an airplane full of people with pustules covering his face and arms and not one airline employee thought twice about letting this violently ill man on an airplane? C'MON!!
  • Margulies has an up and down choice of gigs, good like The Good Wife, awful like Ghost Ship. This role is not one of her best, the writers fail her. The story is well known and anyone who hasn't read the book should do so if they really want to know about what happened. The mini-series itself is nothing more than a lifetime movie, watch it while playing on internet, then forget it.
  • Lt Col Jaax drives past a HMMWV three years before they were made. She gets out of the car with her hair out of regulations, and puts on her uniform IN THE PARKING LOT, at least everything but her hat, which many characters do without. Rank and corps badges are not only misplaced on uniforms, but they are misplaced with inconsistent problems.

    These are some details I am intimately familiar with, but the series creators lazy approach is also evident in the writing (both the story and the dialogue), in some of the acting, and probably in the handling of infectious diseases.

    It's a shame. Preston's book is fascinating, and could have been a great miniseries, but this is not it. The subject deserved better treatment.
  • Horrifically inaccurate. The science is wrong, the history is wrong, the safety and scientific protocols used are wrong. I won't get into the specifics, because 90% of people won't care, but as a containment scientist, watching this was painful. What's more, most of the actual characters in the real story aren't here...
  • Acting is subpar, facts are waaay off, completely different and lesser than the book.

    Don't waste your time.
  • Pontifications on accuracy. This an entertaining mini series not a documentary. As a paramedic I shake my head at all the medical blunders conducted in the field in shows and movies but that died by detract my enjoyment of them if they're good. Well paced with great direction, editing, acting and camera work. Much better than I thought it would be and it's disheartening to know that this is an extremely plausible possibility.
  • The book and it's real life events were incredibly terrifying and dramatic. I just don't understand why Hollywood can't just stick with the actual events and details instead of the silly and factually inaccurate crap this series is crammed with. The acting is hackneyed and SO bad. Anybody who read the book before seeing this is really irritated by the series. My eyes hurt from rolling them at how bad this is.
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