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: Godless (2017)

A Netflix western miniseries? Yeah, I didn’t need any convincing to watch this. So here we go.

Ladies and gents… “Godless”.

Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell) used to be part of an infamous gang up until he betrayed them. And the gang’s leader, Frank (Jeff Daniels), wants Roy dead for that. So now Roy is hiding out in a town called La Belle, a town run entirely by women. So now we have our western plot. And with this plot they embrace pretty much every western cliché known to man… but they also put some interesting new perspectives on them to make them feel a bit more fresh. There’s a lot of good drama here that I found myself quite invested in while they still gave me some of the classic western plot points. If I had to make a comparison in plot style I’d say that this is part “The Beguiled” and part “Red Dead Redemption”. There’s the women-majority cast of the first, and the violent gang betrayal stuff of the latter. And I think it makes for an interesting mix in this show. Hell, I’d say that it’s great.

The characters here are given a good amount of time to develop and I think they’re interesting. Jack O’Connell plays Roy Goode, the former outlaw hiding out in La Belle. He has the kill-skills from his gang-days, but you can tell that he’s also a good guy who prefers to live quietly and help out. He’s a tragic character and O’Connell is great in the role. Michelle Dockery plays Alice Fletcher, the woman who is responsible for helping/hiding Goode. She’s tough, but she also shows a more vulnerable side during the show, giving her a good amount of layers. And Dockery is great in the role. Then we have Merritt Wever as Mary Agnes, one of the many women of Le Belle. She’s tough as hell, but you can tell that she’s also a sad and damaged character. And Wever is great in the role. Then we have Scott McNairy as Bill McNue, the Sheriff of La Belle and one of very few men there. He’s aging, but he’s still determined to get the job done. And McNairy is great in the role. Then we have Jeff Daniels as Frank Griffin, the outlaw in charge that Roy Goode betrayed. What I like about him is that he isn’t just a ruthless asshole kind of outlaw, but he’s given a lot of interesting sides to him. He’s damaged, he’s charismatic, he has a kind heart, but he is also an intimidating outlaw that will shoot you dead if you cross him. And Daniels is absolutely great in the role. The final one I want to go slightly more in-depth with is Whitey Winn, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster. He’s a slightly over-confident young deputy. But they don’t go the route of making his over-confidence turning him into an unlikable idiot (which so many shows/movies do), but they show that it’s a flaw of his. But generally he is a good guy that is worth liking. And Brodie-Sangster is great in the role. And then you can expect some great performances from people like Kim Coates, Samuel Marty, Tantoo Cardinal, Sam Waterston, Christiane Seidel, Erik LaRay Harvey, Jessica Sula, and many more. Seriously, this is an incredibly well acted series.

The score for the show was composed by Carlos Rafael Rivera and it was pretty fucking great. Trumpets, strings, piano, other types of brass… seriously, this is a full-on western score emulating a lot of classic ones and it makes me so happy. And overall it is just fantastic, perfectly fitting the show and often elevating scenes throughout the show.

This show was created by Scott Frank and Steven Soderbergh, with Frank having written and directed all of the episodes. And I think he did a fantastic job with that. His direction here is sweeping, but also tight and focused when it needs to. It has a good sense of flow and style to it, while also managing to create a good amount of tension to it whenever it needs to. And let’s talk about the shooty-bang-bangs (I know they’re called shootouts, but I prefer my phrase for them). They’re badass, fun, exciting, and quite violent. There’s even a decent amount of tension in them, making them even more interesting.

This show just came out but has already been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it (as of writing this) has a score of 8,5/10.

“Godless” is another win for Netflix. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/action. Time for my final score. *Bang*. My final score for “Godless” is a 9,85/10. This of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Godless” is now completed.

Part of me wants more. But part of me feels like it should stay a miniseries.

Series Review: Fargo – Season 3 (2017)

It feels good to have had this show back. I loved the first two seasons of this show (*cough* there are reviews available *cough*), so I was of course looking forward to this season. So let’s see if it is any good.

Ladies and gents… “Fargo” season 3!

Minnesota, 2010. We follow brothers Emmitt (Ewan McGregor) and Ray (Ewan McGregor) and how their sibling rivalry becomes the center of a series of deaths, betrayals, conspiracies, and other crazy things. So now we have our off-kilter crime-drama. And yeah, it’s pretty fucking great. Once again this show has managed to craft a deep, compelling, weird, suspenseful, and unpredictable crime story. I honestly never knew where it was going and it managed to really surprise me with some of the twists and turns throughout. It’s an odd and fascinating journey that I loved following.

The characters in this season (like in previous ones) are unique, interesting, quirky, and just extremely entertaining. Ewan McGregor had a tough job here as he had to play two roles, and make them feel different from each other. Emmit is the parking lot king of Minnesota, a wealthy and generally liked businessman. While Ray instead is a balding, poor(ish), parole officer who is jealous of his brother. And McGregor makes them both feel very different and manages to give two fantastic performances. Carrie Coon plays Gloria Burgle, a police chief/single mom who is investigating a murder that might be linked somehow to the Stussy brothers. She’s determined and kind, but has a little trouble with modern technology. And Coon is fantastic in the role. Michael Stuhlbarg (sporting an awesome mustache) plays Sy Feltz, the right hand man and best friend of Emmit. He’s loyal to a fault, wanting to make sure Emmit has a good a life as possible. And Stuhlbarg is great in the role. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Nikki Swango (awesome name), a gambler who is also the girlfriend of Ray. She’s tough, sexy, and just cool. And Winstead is great in the role. David Thewlis plays V.M. Varga, a very strange man that comes into Emmit’s life and starts changing it quite a bit. How do I best describe Varga… he’s weird and creepy and and he gets under my skin. So yeah, Thewlis is fantastic in the role. Really, this is filled with plenty of awesome characters and performances, and while I don’t have the time to go through all in detail, I’m just gonna list some of the awesome supporting players here. Olivia Sandoval, Shea Whigham, Mark Forward, Thomas Mann, Hamish Linklater, Goran Bogdan, Andy Yu, and Mary McDonnell. There are more, but I feel like some are better left as surprises.

The score for this season was composed by Jeff Russo, the man who did the music for the previous seasons. And once again he killed it. Of course the main theme from the previous seasons is played every now and then, still being awesome. But then there’s also a lot of new stuff that fits the show very well. There are tracks for more serious moments, and there are tracks for some of the more “silly” (in lack of a better word) moments. And there are licensed tracks used throughout as well, and they fit pretty well too.

For those not aware (fucking cave dwellers), “Fargo” is an anthology series created by Noah Hawley, based on the Coen brothers film of the same name. And while I’m not gonna list every director that this season had, I will at least say that they all did very well here. The shots look great, and they manage to create a lot of tension with very little thanks to their excellent direction. And the cinematography too is great. Sure, color pallet is a bit drab, but I think it kind of works for this story. They even have a little bit of animation in this to tell a certain part of the story. I’m not gonna spoil what, but let’s just say that it’s pretty cool. I also feel like I have to mention that this is really violent. Not just in terms of there being blood (though there’s that too), but there’s plenty of violence in this. There’s also a good dose of dark humor in this which I thought was quite funny.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 89/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 9,0/10 and is ranked #23 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

While not qutie reaching the heights of season 2 (which is fucking amazing), “Fargo” season 3 is still a fantastic season of television. It has a fantastic plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing. Time for my final score. *Oh jeez*. My final score for “Fargo” season 3 is a 9,90/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Fargo” season 3 is now completed.

*Please get renewed, please get renewed*.

Movie Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

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In the world of movies, there is a common trend of setting up cinematic universes that cross over several different films. Most noticeably we have Marvel who, let’s face it, fucking nailed it with their cinematic universe. Well, let’s see how DC handles the start of their universe with this thing.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”!

So after the events in “Man of of Steel”, Superman (Henry Cavill) is in a lot of hot water. Is he a hero, is he a dangerous alien, is he good, is he bad? These questions are constantly asked by people. Well after all of that trouble, the eyes of one Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) are on Superman. So Wayne decides to suit up again to try to stop Superman, while Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) hatches his very convoluted plot in the background. Meanwhile, we also have Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) being up to her own little thing too in the middle of all of this. Also, the plot of this movie is trying to set up the rest of the Justice League and WHY ARE THERE SO MANY THINGS GOING ON!? *Deep breath*. Okay, this isn’t a good sign. There is a bit too much stuff going on for me to fully enjoy the plot. The Batman going after Superman stuff, that’s good. Lex Luthor’s plan, very convoluted and actually kinda dumb. The plot of this movie is a fucking mess! Did I enjoy it? I guess. But it’s so messy, I can’t appreciate it. Too much stuff going on in this movie.

Okay, the plot is a mess. But how are the characters? Well, they’re not bad. Henry Cavill plays Superman, just like in “Man of Steel”. And he’s not bad. A bit too brooding and dark for the character, but his performance overall is pretty good. Amy Adams returns as Lois Lane and she was really good. Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman… absolutely fantastic. I cared about Bruce Wayne, I cared about Batman, Affleck perfectly captured the feel of the character. Sure, he kills people and I don’t know why, but overall his performance is fantastic. Jeremy Irons as Alfred, he’s great. Then we also have Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor… oh boy. I don’t know what to say. There were parts where he was somewhat interesting and he did a decent job, but most of the time he was twitchy and eccentric and crazy and not Lex Luthor. And finally, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. While her character was very tacked on, she was still very awesome. Seriously, her performance was good and her action-based entrance is so amazingly badass. So the acting overall in this movie is good and I find the characters interesting and entertaining.

The original score was composed by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL and it’s fine. Not great, but fine. It’s not a soundtrack that I’m gonna go out of my way to listen to. But it worked for the movie and it sounds overall fine. Not bad, not great.

This movie was directed by Zack Snyder and let’s face it, he has trouble balancing story… but holy shit, this movie looks amazing! The visuals are terrific, I could look at shots from this movie all day and be happy with that. And that is something Zack Snyder does well, he knows how to make a really good looking movie. It’s a wonderfully directed movie. The action scenes are brilliantly handled. Sure, a lot of them are very big and bloated, but I can also say that they were a lot of fun. Out of all the action scenes in the movie, my favorite might be the warehouse scene that everybody knows about. Seriously, it’s like something right out of one of the “Arkham” games. And the main one between Bats and Supes… it’s good. It’s brutal, it’s badass, and it’s only like 8 minutes long. In a 2,5 hour movie, you’d think that the scene the movie is named after would be a bit longer. But what you see in it is pretty great. The reason why they stop fighting, pretty bullshit… but the fight before that end is really good. There are a ton of CGI in this movie, and at one point I felt like there might’ve been a little too much, but I guess that’s jsut what I have to handle when they decide to put *SPOILER* in the movie even though it made little to no sense. At least the visual effects in the movie are very well done.
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This movie has not been too well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 27% positive rating (ouch). On Metacritic it has a score of 44/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,9/10.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is a really mixeed bag for me. The plot is convoluted and filled with too many things and Jesse Eisenberg is a little too over-the-top as Lex Luthor. But then we also have a whole bunch of other great performances/characters, pretty good music, beautiful camera work, and terrific action scenes. Time for my final score. Tell me… do you review? You will. My final score for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is a 7,03/10. While not as great as one could hope for, it’s still worth a rental.
Rent it

My review of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is now completed.

Hey, at least Batfleck proved all the naysayers wrong!

 

Movie Review: Non-Stop (2014)

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Liam Neeson, one of the greatest actors we got (at least I think so). He truly gained fame back in 1993 with his movie “Schindler’s List” (which I have not seen yet). But a few years back he made a small turn in his career with the movie “Taken” which puts him (for the most part) these days in action movies. And now in 2014, he made another one…set on a plane.

Men and women, boys and girls…”Non-Stop”.

Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is a drunken(ish) air marshal who’s going on a transatlantic flight. On that he meets a woman named Jen Summers (Julianne Moore) whom he befriends. But while on the flight, something weird happens. He starts receiving these mysterious text messages from an unknown (Liam Neeson pun, haha) person. This person says he/she will kill one passenger on the plane every 20 minutes if Bill fails to transfer 150 million dollars to a certain bank account. So it’s a race against the time to find this mysterious person until every passenger on the plane is dead. But there seems to be more going on than that. And now we have our movie. And I have to say that I really enjoyed the story aspect of this movie. Not only was it well-written, but it was also very suspenseful. And to be honest, this movie is not straight-out action, but it is a bit like “Jack Reacher” in the sense of it being a suspenseful mystery with action parts every now and then. And in that sense…I really liked the story.

The characters…not the best in the universe. Not calling them bad/horribly written…just not too interesting. But it is also difficult to give different characters interesting personalities when they are so many. Sure, a few get a little development, but not enough to keep them that interesting. But we are not here to see people, we’er here to see Liam Neeson…and he delivers. Sure, he stays very similar throughout the movie with little to no change…but I don’t mind. Neeson gives a good enough performance to stay interesting.

The soundtrack by John Ottman is honestly pretty great. It is one of those soundtracks that fit it’s movie so well that it doesn’t matter what I say. It really helps build the suspense of the scenes in the movie. It is also not a too bombastic soundtrack like most modern action movies want to make their soundtracks, but it is a lot mroe subtle than a big ol’ “BWAAAAAAAAAH”. So yeah…I really liked it.

The camera work in this movie is honestly some of the best I’ve seen in a modern movie. Sure, a few parts are hurt by shaky-cam, but it doesn’t ruin the entire movie. Sure, the camera work is not really on par with any David Fincher movies, but it manages to hold it’s own against most other movies. Also, this movie kept me on edge. The claustrophobic feeling it gave really helped build the suspense and really did keep it fresh and interesting. Seriously… try to find a modern action movie that can keep me on edge… that is difficult. Also, this movie was produced by Joel Silver who also helped produce the “Matrix” films and “Die Hard”.

Reception for “Non-Stop” was mixed but for the most part pretty good. It has a 60% score on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment. On Metacritic it has the lovely score of 56/100 (Did you see the sarcasm, or did it just fly by). And on imdb.com it has a 7,1/10. So like I said…mixed, but overall good.

“Non-Stop” is a movie with good action scenes, good acting, great camera work and a good soundtrack but is dragged down a bit by lack of characterization and a little bit of unnecessary shaky-cam. So now it is time for my final score. The final score for “Non-Stop” is an 8,92/10 and a recommendation to buy it. It is not worthy the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!” but it is somethign that is good enough to pick up.

“Non-Stop” is now reviewed.

Where’s Leslie Nielsen when you need him? (Bonus points if you get the reference).