Series Review: The Comey Rule (2020)

Politics, a clusterfuck of ideologies clashing. I will never find myself truly understanding it, but I’ll do my best. So anyhow, let’s talk about a political drama.

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 gents… “The Comey Rule”.

The story follows FBI director James Comey (Jeff Daniels) as he and his team investigate allegations of Russia attempting to meddle with U.S. politics leading up to and following the 2016 presidential election. So yeah, we’re dealing with sensitive shit here. And I honestly think the storytelling here isn’t great. And before you accuse me of some political bias, no, stop. The story here feels like it skims over a lot of details, like it only plays the “greatest hits” of those strange times. And even those moments feels rushed, so as to get onto the next one. There are admittedly moments I do like in the series, most relating to Comey’s reaction to certain events, and I was also never bored. But the storytelling feels incomplete and undercooked, making for an unmemorable and hollow experience, despite the potential for a great narrative.

The characters in this are whatever… yeah, that’s it. I don’t think they’re the most uninteresting necessarily, but like the story they feel slightly underdeveloped. Jeff Daniels plays Jeff Comey, a hard-working, kind, well spoken man who also happens to be the director of the FBI. He’s our main focal point throughout the very short series, and we do get to know him decently well, and he’s a pretty interesting character. And Daniels is great in the role. Brendan Gleeson shows up in this too playing Donald Trump (oh dear), and it’s uncomfortable how fucking good his performance is. We also get really solid acting from other people like Holly Hunter, Scott McNairy, Michael Kelly, Steven Pasquale, Shawn Doyle, Amy Seimetz, Oona Chaplin, Jonathan Banks, Brian d’Arcy James, Jennifer Ehle, and many more. So yeah, mediocre characters, great performances.

The score for the show was composed by Henry Jackman, and it was pretty good. It’s overall well composed and could fit in almost any drama… and that’s the issue here. It doesn’t stand out, it doesn’t say “THIS is the Comey Rule score!”. It just says “Drama!”. I love Henry Jackman, but just like any other person, you can’t always hit a homerun.

Based on “A Higher Loyalty” by James Comey, “The Comey Rule” was created, written, and directed by Billy Ray, and I have mixed feelings here. I am a fan of Billy Ray’s previous works, he’s made two movies I’d happily put in “best of the year” lists. I do however feel like this isn’t as strong as those. A lot of scenes are nicely helmed and have this beautiful cinematic quality. But then there are also times where Billy Ray wants to hammer home a point so hard that his imagery is a bit too abrasive. And let’s not talk about the inconsistent color grading. Sometimes it looks somewhat believable, if mildly exaggerated to create a beautiful cinematic image… but then there are times where it looks insanely artificial and bafflingly bad. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt that some of it came from rushed production… but it’s hard to tell.

This show has gotten mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 64% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.8/10.

“The Comey Rule” is a disappointing biopic that at times does entertain. It has a meh story, meh characters, great performances, pretty good music, and mixed directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Comey Rule” is a 5.9/10. So while very flawed, I can still kinda recommend watching it.

My review of “The Comey Rule” is now completed.

*sigh*. So much missed potential.

Series Review: Peaky Blinders – Season 5 (2019)

Yes, I finally got the opportunity to catch up. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’d know that I’m a big fan of this show. I’ve reviewed every season (*not so subtle nod*), and I’ve loved each and every one of them. So now we got the question: Does the latest outing land on that list, or is it somehow a big pile of disappointment? Let’s have a look.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Peaky Blinders” season 5.

1929. Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) tries to balance his life as a politician with keep tabs on his family business, all the while antagonistic forces, including fellow politician Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin), fight against his every move. More scheming, more violence… more “Peaky Blinders”. And I’ll be up front about my thoughts, I loved the plot this season. There’s a lot going on, making episodes feel very dense, but it’s handled in such a smooth and clever way that you never get lost. The tone also feels darker and more dire than before, partly due to it being set during one of the toughest times in modern history (the depression), but partly also because it focuses so heavily on Tommy’s rapidly deteriorating mental state. There wasn’t ever really a moment in the season where it felt like I could figure out what was gonna happen next, due to clever and subversive drama that was brought to life by the spectacular writing. I was on the edge of my seat for all six episodes, and I adored every minute of it.

The characters of season 5 are just as flawed, nuanced, human, and interesting as they’ve ever been… maybe even more so, due to developments in the previous season and in this one. Seeing Tommy go so far down in the abyss this season was enrapturing, and Cillian Murphy is once again fucking amazing in the role. Arthur has possibly had the biggest arc in the entire show, and it’s interesting to see him at this point in his life, wonderfully portrayed once again by Paul Anderson. Helen McCrory is still an absolute badass as Aunt Polly. Sophie Rundle, Finn Cole, and Harry Kirton all kill it once again in their roles. Aidan Gillen was once again great as Aberama Gold. Let’s talk newcomers. First up we have Sam Claflin as Oswald Mosley, who apparently was a very real person. Now, I can’t speak to how accurate Claflin’s portrayal was to the real deal, as I am neither old nor British. I can however talk about his role in the show. He’s a level-headed, scheming, and highly intelligent conservative politician, clashing with Tommy’s ideology and work at multiple points, making him a most dangerous opponent, even without guns or violence. And Claflin is great in the role. Then we got Anya Taylor-Joy as Gina, the recent wife of Finn Cole’s character Michael. It’s not clear at first what purpose she’ll serve within the show’s dramatic developments, but soon enough you’ll find out, and she’s made an intriguing part of the cast. And Taylor-Joy does a good job in the role. The entire cast is fucking great, yo.

As with previous seasons of “Peaky Blinders”, season 5 relies on a lot of licensed music to add to its storytelling, mainly within the hard rock and blues-rock genres. When I first heard it back in the day, I was very much taken aback by it. But now it’s so ingrained in the show’s identity for me that I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are also a few tracks made for the show, brought to us by Anna Calvi, and those are good too.

Series creator Steven Knight handled writing for all the episodes, with Anthony Byrne handling direction on all six episodes, and Si Bell doing the cinematography. And the craft is the best the show has ever given us. Plenty of impressive camera movements suck us further into the character drama, with some gorgeous wide shots on occasion to make us go “Wow!”. The show’s always been impressive from a craft standpoint, but they’ve truly stepped up their game this time around.

The show/season has of course been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it… exists. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.8/10 and is ranked #54 on the “Top 250” tv list.

I think it comes as a surprise to absolutely fucking no one when I say that I loved season 5 of “Peaky Blinders”. It’s a darker season that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout all of it, furthering my investment in the characters. It has a great plot, fantastic characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Peaky Blinders” season 5 is a 10/10 (fuck yeah). So of course it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Peaky Blinders” season 5 is now completed.

If you haven’t (for whatever reason) watched this show, THEN BY ORDER OF THE PEAKY FOOKIN’ BLINDERS, YOU WILL.

Series Review: A Very English Scandal (2018)

What? You thought I was taking a break from blogging just because it’s christmas? Pffft. Don’t be silly.

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 show… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “A Very English Scandal”.

We follow Jeremy Thorpe (Hugh Grant), a British politician who’s beloved by many. But that could change if the people found out that he’d had a sexual relationship with a young man named Norman (Ben Whishaw). So really this is all about how Thorpe tries to cover up this part of his life, for fear of Norman exposing him. And I really liked the plot here. It not only gives us an engaging personal journey for both Thorpe and Norman, but we also get a fascinating look at how British politics and such worked in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s mainly steeped in drama, which it already handles very well, but what really gives it an edge is a sort of sly wit that makes it a lot more watchable. So yeah, the plot here is layered, fun, and overall quite engaging.

The characters here are layered, colorful, and just overall interesting. Hugh Grant plays Jeremy Thorpe, a highly charismatic British politician (paradoxical description, I know) who, as I already mentioned, has a secret… a secret that back in those days could be devastating if it would be brought into the light. So seeing him develop throughout the show as he deals with trying to hide his “shameful sins” is quite fascinating. And Hugh Grant is Hugh Great in the role. Ben Whishaw plays Norman Josiffe, the young man that Thorpe has his affair with. After they have a bit of a falling out, Norman kind of tries to expose this affair to the world. And seeing him go through all his struggles in the series is quite interesting. And Whishaw is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Alex Jennings, Patricia Hodge, Paul Hilton, Blake Harrison, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Murray Gold, and I think he did a great job with it. Remember how I said the storytelling here has kind of a sly wit to it? That often reflects in the score as well, as it both through its excellent main theme and a few other pieces carries an almost bouncy feel to it that captures the witty style quite well. That’s not to say that it’s all fun, as Gold also knows when to pull it back a bit and create some really good dramatic pieces.

Based on a book by John Preston, the show was written by Russell T. Davies and directed by Stephen Frears, and I think their teamwork here paid off quite well, as I think the craft on display here is really solid. There’s an energy to it all that makes it quite entertaining to follow, Frears (who is a generally a good director) really brought his A-game here. And Davies’ writing here presents all characters here in a way that doesn’t take much of an actual stance. Positives, negatives, both are shown here. The writing here is also surprisingly funny. Not in a straight-up comedy kind of way, but (again) in a sort of sly way.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

“A Very English Scandal” is a surprisingly entertaining political drama filled with great acting. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “A Very English Scandal” is a 9,61/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “A Very English Scandal” is now completed.

Maybe Hugh Grant is more of a character actor than a proper leading man…

Series Review: Peaky Blinders – Season 3 (2016)

As some of you might know, I reviewed season one and two a while back (*nudge nudge wink wink*). And if you have any memory of that happening, then you might remember that I pretty much loved those seasons. So I’m super excited to finally review the third season for you guys. So here we go!

Ladies and gents… “Peaky Blinders” season 3!

The year is 1924 and everything seems to be looking up for Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy). Business is going well and he’s finally getting married. However, he soon finds himself getting into the fray once again when he has to start dealing with Russians, Italians, and a priest (Paddy Considine) with powerful connections. And I thought the plot here this season was really good. And while not quite as tense and unpredictable as the previous seasons, it still retains most of the intrigue and dramatic heft that one can expect from the show at this point. The season does go to some really dark and slightly messed up places at times too which really helps keep the plot of “Peaky Blinders” well above most shows out there.

The characters have always been a highlight of the show, and this season is no exception. Cillian Murphy of course returns as Thomas Shelby, the head of the Shelby family/business, and he is still the damaged and layered man we’ve come to know. And Cillian Murphy is once again fantastic in the role. Helen McCrory returns as Aunt Polly, and she is still one of the best female characters out there. And McCrory is of course fantastic in the role. Paul Anderson returns as Arthur Shelby, the rough-around-the-edges brother of Thomas, this time getting some more development than in previous seasons. And Anderson is fantastic in the role. Joe Cole returns as John Shelby, Thomas’ younger brother, and he’s great in the role. Ned Dennehy, Ian Peck, Sophie Rundle, Annabelle Wallis, all return and they’re all great. Tom Hardy also makes a return as Alfie Solomons, and while he isn’t in this season a whole lot, he’s still one of the best parts of it. Now, let’s talk about the newcomer worth talking about: Paddy Considine. I’ve been a fan of him for a while now, and seeing him in here as a sneaky priest was interesting. His character is really interesting and Considine is great in the role. Really, the acting here is terrific.

Like in previous season, there is no real identifiable original score that we can properly talk about. But instead we once again get a soundtrack consisting mainly of rock songs from the past 20 – 25 years or so. There are also a couple newer songs too that are hard to pin a genre on, but still work really well in this show. That is something I want to mention: When imagining a gangster show set in 1920s Birmingham one woudln’t think a rock-based soundtrack would work, but it somehow does. Give the person responsible for picking the songs a fucking raise.

This show was created by Steven Knight, and all episodes this season were directed by Tim Mielants, who I think did a great job. His direction is very tight and helps create a tense and good mood that elevates the show quite a bit. It’s also a visually arresting show… just thought I’d mention that. Also, this show is bloody/violent and features nudity, so if you’re one of those wimps who can’t stomach that stuff in movies and TV, you have been warned.

This show has been very well received, but this season is fucking impossible to say with since it has no score on the sites I usually use. Sure, it exists on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, but it has no score on there. And on imdb.com the show (no seasonal average) has a score of 8,8/10 and is ranked #66 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

“Peaky Blinders” season 3 is great… not much else I can say. It has a great plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Peaky Blinders” season 3 is a 9,71/10. So yeah, it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Peaky Blinders” season 3 is now completed.

Mumble mumble mumble mumble fuck mumble. That is how Tom Hardy sounds in this show and it’s so much fun.

Series Review: The Expanse – Season 2 (2017)

As some of you might remember, I reviewed the first season of this show a couple of weeks back. You might then also remember that I kind of loved it. So, now that season 2 is watched, the question is: Is it any good? Let’s find out. Oh and by the way, there will be some spoilers for season 1 here. So if you haven’t seen that first season, maybe go catch up and come back. Or you just don’t care. Anyhow, let’s get on with the review.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Expanse” season 2!

After they discovered the Protomolecule and succesfully escaped from Eros, the crew of the Rocinante (Steven Strait, Cas Anvar, Dominique Tipper, Wes Chatham) and detective Miller (Thomas Jane) are once again out in space. So now they have to find out who/what’s behind this infection and also if there’s a way to fully stop it. We also once again follow Chrisjen (Shohreh Agdashloo) as she navigates the tough world of politics, trying to keep the tense relationship between Earth and Mars from brewing into a full blown war. I’m not gonna dilly-dally too much… fuck me, the plot here is fantastic! The conspiracy/mystery behind the Protomolecule that Holden and gang have to solve is extremely fascinating and helps give a bit more depth to the universe. And the political side of the plot is extremely interesting, adding a surprising amount of tension to everything that happens throughout the 13 episodes. That’s right, this season is 13 episode long instead of 10. Increasing the amount of episodes like that can sometimes go poorly, but here they handle it spectacularly. It is overall a bigger season in every sense of the word, and while “bigger doesn’t mean better” can apply to a lot of situations, this isn’t one of them… the expansion of “The Expanse” (HA!) is very well handled.  The plot here is dramatic, exciting, suspenseful, intense, and just overall fantastic!

The characters in season 1 were already quite interesting, and here in season 2 they get even more development, and not just singularly, but the relationships are developed a bit more too. Steven Strait once again played Jim Holden and while he at times can seem a little dumb in his decisions, he’s still an incredibly interesting character. And Strait is great in the role. Dominique Tipper returned as Naomi Nagata, a very clever woman who can let her emotions get the best of her at times. And Tipper is great in the role. Cas Anvar returned as Alex Kamal (my favorite character in season 1), the Martian-born pilot of the Rocinante. Like in season 1, he is quite a funny character, but he’s also given a lot of good dramatic moments that really helps make the character even more compelling, and Anvar is great in the role. Wes Chatham returned as Amos Burton, the Roci’s resident knucklehead. But he’s not just a big, dumb piece of bicep, he is also a character that clearly cares about his friends. And after he experiences something in the season (no spoilers), he gets some dramatic weight to him. And Chatham is great in the role. Shohreh  Aghdashloo returned as Chrisjen Avasarala, the extremely interesting UN politician. She knows how to cleverly mainpulate people to get her will across, without seeming like a villain. And Aghdashloo is fantastic in the role. Thomas Jane returned as detective Miller, the stubborn man out to do his job. I don’t wanna say more about him because there’s some spoiler-y stuff. So I’ll just leave that by saying that Jane is really good in the role. Now let’s talk about the newcomer of the season. This season introduced us to Roberta “Bobbie” Draper, a Martian soldier who goes through some shit. She’s played by Frankie Adams and she’s great in the role. We also get some killer supoorting performances throughout from people like Jared Harris, Chad L. Coleman, François Chau, Hugh Dillon, Shawn Doyle, and various other actors.

The score, like in season 1, was composed by Clinton Shorter and it’s just as great as season 1. Dramatic, tense, epic, cool, and it just overall fits the show perfectly. Really, there’s not much else I can say here.

Like I said in my review of season 1, this show was created by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby and written/directed by a whole bunch of people. Season 1 was very well directed, making use of the claustrophobic ships, the futuristic/shit towns, and the big, open space to create a tense atmosphere. And they nailed it once again, making perfect use of their sets/environments. And the shots look great, with some interesting cinematography. And yes, there are some shootouts here and they are very well handled. I also have to mention, in season 1 the effects were great… but here they really upped their game. They seem to have given the CGI some extra polish/work because holy shit, it looks even better than in season 1 (somehow). They even have space battles which are handled in a very realistic but still exciting way. This show really is pure eye candy.

This show/season has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,3/10.

“The Expanse” season 2 manages to be both bigger and better than the (excellent) first season. It has a fantastic plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, fantastic directing, and fantastic visual effects. Time for my final score. *Space*. My final score for “The Expanse” season 2 is a 9,97/10. This of course means that it gets the one and only “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Expanse” season 2 is now completed.

I’m still stunned that a show this good can come from the same channel as “Sharknado” and “Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus”. 

Movie Review: Eye in the Sky (2016)

As time goes on humans are continuing to look for new and interesting ways to kill each other. One of the most interesting toys that humans have come up with is the drone. A machine flying high in the sky to fire missiles so you die. Okay, they can be used for non-lethal surveillance as well, but we all know that those things are capable of highly destructive killing.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Eye in the Sky”.

Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) is a colonel within the UK military and she’s been tasked with leading a drone operation to take out a group of terrorists located in Kenya. However the operation runs into quite a problem when a little girl is in the so-called kill zone. This triggers a tough discussion about what should be done. Should they strike, should they not? Can they somehow minimize collateral damage? This plot was pretty fucking great. There’s a lot of layers to the plot, with the political aspects of politicians/military making a drone strike and it potentially killing a girl plus other people who might be unlucky enough to be near. But there’s not only the political angle to it, but also an overall moral dilemma for the people piloting the drone. What I also appreciated was the fact that it didn’t just go for the typical “military are heroes stopping the bad terrorists” approach, but it’s actually being more grey in it’s approach. It’s also in general really suspenseful, with the tension rising more and more throughout the entire thing. At one point it also got me a bit emotional… just thought I’d mention that. So yeah, this plot is pretty fucking great.

The characters in this were all fleshed out enough that I would not only find them pretty interesting, but I also cared about them. Helen Mirren is great, playing this woman who has to try to stay calm while also calling the shots in this difficult operation. Aaron Paul is terrific as the drone pilot, starting as just your average guy controlling a big metal thing in the sky to at one point giving us some of that emotion that he’s known for. Phoebe Fox plays Aaron Paul’s co-pilot and she’s great in the role. Alan Rickman (may he rest in peace) is great as a general that is involved in this whole ordeal. We also got Barkhad Abdi as one of the military’s allies located in Kenya, and he was really great in the role. All teh actors did really well in this movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Paul Hepker & Mark Kilian and it was great. The score was intense, dramatic, and fit the movie very well, perfectly adding to the tension/excitement of certain scenes.

This movie was directed by Gavin Hood (who also has a small role in the movie) and I would say that he did a pretty damn good job. The shots do look great, but what I love most about his direction is how taut it is. Even in moments where nothing really happens, he finds some way to make it really tense. In lesser hands this would’ve had a bunch of unnecessary action scenes so the audience won’t get “bored”, but Hood managed to hold my attention with very little. There are barely any gunshots in this war movie, but it’s still incredibly tense.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“Eye in the Sky” is a fantastic political war thriller. It has a great plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Clears throat*. My final score for “Eye in the Sky” is a 9,89/10. This of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Eye in the Sky” is now completed.

Great job, mr. Hood… now I know that “X-Men Origins” being bad wasn’t your fault!

Movie Review: The Ghost Writer (2010)

Politics. Not much to say about it. Part of me thinks it’s necessary and part of me thinks it’s fucking dumb (mainly because of certain moves by various politicians through the years). Basically politics is the biggest clusterfuck in our world.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Ghost Writer”.

We follow a man (Ewan McGregor) who’s been hired to go out to a remote island and help write the memoirs of former British prime minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). However as he is writing it and gathering information he starts discovering some interesting secrets from the ministers past. And as he discovers these things, his life may be in danger. So what did I think of the plot? It was really good. The first half of the film is more of a drama that is about the specter author working on the book and such. Then we have the second half which is more like a suspenseful thriller. However, the pacing is still great thanks to an overall solid mystery feel throughout the entire thing.

The characters are all layered and interesting. Ewan McGregor gives a great performance as the poltergeist wordsmith. Pierce Brosnan is great as the slightly shady former prime minister. Olivia Williams plays the wife of the former PM in the movie and she was great in the role. The awesome Jon Bernthal also pops up a bit in the movie, playing McGregor’s friend, and he was really good. Timothy Hutton also shows up briefly and he was really good in it. I’d say that all actors did a really solid job in this movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Alexandre Desplat and it was pretty great. It’s filled with energy while still being suspenseful and somewhat eerie. It has a very old school feel to it which worked very well for the movie while also being pretty fun to listen to.

This movie was directed by Roman Polanski and he did a terrific job. It’s fantastically shot and it always has an uneasy feel to it as if it’s saying “Trust no one”. And I like that, it kept me on the edge of my seat even when nothing was really happening, which just shows how talented Polanski is behind the camera (Disclaimer: I do not condone any of the criminal acts he committed and he should be held accountable, I’m just saying that he did a great job directing this movie).

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

“The Ghost Writer” is a pretty damn good political drama/thriller. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Clears throat*. My final score for “The Ghost Writer” is a 9,80/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Ghost Writer” is now completed.

Ghost Rider is… “The Ghost Writer”.