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: 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”. 

Series Review: The Expanse – Season 1 (2015 – 2016)

Space, the final frontier. Alright, that is enough “Star Trek” for now. Time to move on to a different science fiction thing.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the first season of… “The Expanse”.

The Canterbury is a giant ship flying around in outer space collecting ice. During one of their missions they get a distress call and part of the crew gets sent out to investigate it. At the same in a different location we follow detective Joe Miller (Thomas Jane) as he is trying to find a missing woman who happens to be the daughter of a very important businessman. And soon we find out that these two seemingly unrelated stories might be connected somehow. So now we have a sci-fi story that actually turned out to be pretty fucking good. The story of the Canterbury crew makes for an exciting space-thriller, with Detective Miller’s story makes for an intriguing detective noir. But none of them feel out of place in any way, as they complement each other very well. The season also gives us a good look at the politics and such of this universe, which helps everything feel more deep and well realized. And the political stuff actually has a purpose in the story and it’s a welcome addition. The plot also takes a few interesting twists and turns throughout that I didn’t expect. So yeah, the plot here is great.

The characters in this movie are all interesting and get a fair amount of development over the ten episode season. Thomas Jane (sporting an interesting haircut) plays Joe Miller, a detective who’s determined to find this missing woman. And Thomas Jane is really good in the role, giving one of the best performances I’ve seen from him. Steven Strait plays Jim Holden, one of the people from the Canterbury investigating the distress call. He can often seem like he’s making dumb decisions, but the more time we spend with him over the season, the more we understand why he does that. And Strait is great in the role. Dominique Tipper plays Naomi Nagata, another one of the Canterbury crew members. She’s a tough and determined woman who wants to get the job done soon, and Tipper is great in the role. Cas Anvar plays Alex Kamal, the pilot who goes along to investigate the distress call, and he’s probably the closest thing we have to comic relief in the show. I mean, he does get some of the funnier lines in the show, but his humor never clashes with the overall serious tone of the season, and he does have serious moments in the season. And Anvar is great in the role. Wes Chatham plays Amos Burton, another member of the Canterbury crew. He’s basically the muscle of the group, I’d even say that he’s kind of a knucklehead. But he’s not a bad guy, he’s just impulsive and brash. And Chatham does a good job in the role. Shohreh Aghdashloo (aside from having one of the most unique voices ever) plays Chrisjen Avasarala, a politician on Earth, and she’s terrific in the role. Then we get a lot of solid supporting performances throughout the show from people like Shawn Doyle, Chad L. Coleman, Elias Toufexis, Jared Harris, and Jay Hernandez. So yeah, this is a very well acted show.

The score for the show was composed by Clinton Shorter and I think he did a great job. His score doesn’t really do anything original in terms of a sci-fi score, but the overall execution is great. The score is tense, exciting, inspiring, and just overall fit the show very well.

“The Expanse” was created by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, and is based on the book series of the same named written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck under the shared pseudonym James S. A. Corey. I haven’t read any of the books, so I can’t speak on if this is a good adaptation or not, but I can at least speak on it as it’s own show. And what Fergus, Ostby, and any other writers/directors managed to create is pretty fantastic. It’s a very well directed show with a lot of suspense being created even when very little is happening. It has a cold and kind of blue look, really making it feel like a different world than our own. There are also a lot of cool sets in this show. Sure, we’ve seen very similar things before in other shows and movies and even video games, but that doesn’t discredit any of the sets on display here… because they’re great. And the CGI, especially on a TV budget, looks fantastic. Definitely some of the best effects I’ve ever seen in a TV show. And to answer your question, yes there is action in this show. It isn’t the main focus, but action does happen in this show. And when it does it is fun and exciting and badass.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,3/10.

“The Expanse” season 1 is pretty fucking great. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, great directing, and fantastic visual effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “The Expanse” is a 9,93/10. Which means that it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Expanse” season 1 is now completed.

Bit of “Star Trek”, a splash of “Mass Effect”, bit of detective noir and voila… good show!