Rapid Movie Review: ‘Chef’, ‘Godzilla’ & More

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Chef” | 115 min. | Rated PG-13 | Director: Jon Favreau | Stars: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Emjay Anthony, Sofía Vergara, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr.

Rating: 3.5/4

After a string of big-budgeted films such as “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2” and “Cowboys & Aliens,” director Jon Favreau yields to his indie roots and cooks up a fine dish of a film with “Chef.”

With its powerful cast, the heartfelt comedy follows a chef (Favreau) who loses his job and hits the road with his new food truck business in hopes of restoring himself.

What makes the film so appetizing is Favreau’s passion for the story and food industry, as exhibited when the narrative reaches the road. The writer-director even goes as far as to film part of the movie just south of us in Austin, stopping at Franklin’s BBQ. This made “Chef” all the more enjoyable.

“Chef” is a stunning yet simple film with a heart the size of Texas.  Crowds will certainly eat it up. Just make sure you eat beforehand!

“Chef” opens in select theaters tomorrow.

446906759_1280Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater” | 70 min. | Not Rated | Director: Gabe Klinger | Stars: Richard Linklater, James Benning and Sandra Adair

Rating: 3/4

With “Double Play,” filmmaker Gabe Klinger brings together two filmmakers, James Benning and Richard Linklater, for a compelling fly-on-the-wall documentary about the love and appreciation of film and baseball.

It’s not your typical, one-on-one interview style of doc; it sticks with two friends and film enthusiasts as they walk around and let the cat out of the bag about their knowledge and views.

If you’re a film admirer and/or a devotee of these guys’ work, this is certainly a picture show that you should search out. Perhaps it will change the way you view and think about movies.

“Double Play” opens in limited release and on VOD tomorrow.

16GODZILLA-master675Godzilla” | 123 min. | Rated PG-13 | Director: Gareth Edwards | Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson,Elizabeth Olsen,Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche and David Strathairn

Rating: 2.5/4

With all its 3D, digital bells and whistles, there’s plenty to love for fans of special effects and monster mayhem. But for those who desire to watch a serious, original story with engaging human characters and the lizard king kicking lots of monster-butt, “Godzilla” may come short of your expectations.

On a technical level, this is a well-made film that navigates through all the necessary story beats of a monster movie. Yet, in a post-“Dark Knight” age, it lacks the personality and soul that we are wanting from an action spectacle. The characters are more like stereotypes than real people, and because of that, everything that doesn’t feature Godzilla or the “other creatures” is uninteresting and lifeless.

However, you simply cannot ignore the impressive sound and stunning visuals, particularly near the end when Godzilla puts the gloves on and shows us what we’ve been missing during his 10-year screen absence. But if you’re expecting some epic, fan-boy style of action like last year’s “Pacific Rim,” expect to be blue balled and teased, as director Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”) is more about the aftermath than the action itself. This can be a cool and exciting approach at times,  but when you’re waiting around for nearly two hours to see some monsters fight, the payoff is not as big as you had hoped.

So, if you enter the theater with smaller expectations and are patient, “Godzilla” is a good time.

“Godzilla” opens nationwide on Friday.

Feature Photo: Emjay Anthony and Jon Favreau lead an all-star cast in “Chef.” Photo courtesy of Open Road Films.
Center Photo: Filmmakers Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”) and James Benning talk about movies and baseball in “Double Play.” Photo courtesy of FilmBuff.
Bottom Photo: Godzilla barely makes an appearance in a film that bears his name. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.