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


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

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.