This week’s new releases: Chef, The Rover, Space Station 76, and Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Running Time: 114 mins.
OFRB Rating: 14A (coarse language, substance abuse)
Starring: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony, Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey, Jr., Amy Sedaris, and Russell Peters
Verdict: Slipping into the writer-director-actor shoes that made him a star nearly 20 years ago with Swingers, Favreau’s triple-threat return is a mature and irresistible dramedy about Carl, a chef humbled by a devastating review and fired from his job, rediscovering his passion alongside his son (Anthony) and best friend (Leguizamo). Characters are introduced and discarded at the whim of the script, but the overall arch of Carl and his son make for a rewarding and delicious story of self-discovery. (4 stars / 5)
Running Time: 103 mins.
OFRB Rating: 14A (coarse language, graphic violence)
Starring: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scoot McNairy, Tawanda Manyimo, and David Field
Verdict: From the director of Animal Kingdom, The Rover takes place in a dystopian, desolate Australia not seen since the Mad Max movies. When loner Eric’s (Pearce) car is stolen by hoodlum Henry (McNairy), he discovers Henry’s brother Rey (Pattinson) left behind, injured and presumed dead. Eric kidnaps the injured Rey and cruelly forces him to lead Eric back to his car. Visually distinctive and memorably visceral, the strong performances from both Pearce and Pattinson make for one of the most interesting pairings of 2014. (3½ stars / 5)
SPACE STATION 76
Running Time: 93 mins.
OFRB Rating: 14A (sexual content)
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler, Matt Bomer, Marisa Coughlan, Jerry O’Connell, and Keir Dullea
Verdict: Having the dubious distinction of following in the footsteps of the fatally flawed sci-fi comedy Dark Star, Space Station 76 takes place in the type of future imagined 50 years ago, built with anachronistic imagination and a tongue planted firmly in cheek. Unfortunately, it’s just not very funny. The subplots involving Patrick Wilson’s captain are amusing, but most of the other scenes just boringly exist, devoid of action or comedy or audience interest. (2 stars / 5)
Running Time: 165 mins.
OFRB Rating: PG (violence, language)
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, T.J. Miller, Titus Welliver, Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, Ken Watanabe, and John Goodman
Verdict: The Transformers movies are Michael Bay’s worst contributions to cinema in an already storied catalogue of veritable garbage. Here, an inventor/grease monkey/struggling single dad (Wahlberg) discovers an abandoned truck that turns out to be a transformer. When his friend calls it in and Men in Black show up to kill everyone involved, Dad goes on the run with his Daisy Dukes-wearing daughter and her stunt racer boyfriend. Some stuff blows up, a conspiracy is uncovered, giant robots fight, and more stuff blows up. For nearly three hours. Transformers: Age of Extinction may not be Bay’s very worst movie, but that’s really not saying much. (½ star / 5)