See A Movie This Weekend!

By Chris Narloch
There is something for every taste playing at local movie theaters this weekend, including “The Rock” on a rampage, pandas in the wild, and a tribute to computer gamers and gaming.

If you haven’t seen it, “A Quiet Place” is the must-see horror hit that made more than $50 million its first weekend in the U.S. alone -- the best opening ever for a horror movie that isn’t a remake or a sequel.

If you have already seen that film – which I reviewed glowingly in our print edition – you can check out one of these other titles, currently playing in and around Sacramento.

Dwayne (“The Rock”) Johnson plays a primatologist in his new movie, and if that sounds like a comedy, well, you’re wrong. “Rampage” is only intermittently (and unintentionally) funny, and the muscle-bound movie star doesn’t even have the decency to take his shirt off in this one.

The actor saves the world once again, this time from enormous, genetically altered beasts that must be stopped before they inspire any even-lamer sequels to this predictable, pain-by-numbers action flick.

The relationship between the hero and George, his previously gentle albino gorilla friend, is touching, and the movie gets points for giving “The Rock” a female, African-American scientist sidekick (Naomie Harris), but that is the only original element in the entire film.

“Rampage” opens this weekend at Sacramento’s Esquire IMAX Theatre on K Street. Visit

Pandas 3D
I recommend skipping “Rampage” and seeing a much better movie, also currently playing at Sacramento’s Esquire Theatre: “Pandas: An IMAX 3D Experience.”

Kristen Bell (“Frozen”) narrates this charming wildlife documentary, which follows the journey of an adorable panda named Qian Qian, an orphan cub who is eventually introduced into the wild, a practice that has helped move the giant panda off the endangered species list in China.

Anyone who calls themselves a nature lover and/or an animal lover should see this beautiful movie with its sweet story and breathtaking cinematography.

Ready Player One
I have to preface this review by saying that I am a 54-year-old, middle-aged man who does not play computer games and is definitely not the target audience for this bloated cinematic salute to VR (virtual reality).

Computer geeks, however, will probably thrill to every minute of this futuristic tale about a young gamer on a digital Easter egg hunt through a virtual reality universe known as OASIS.

There are some talented actors stuck in “Ready Player One” (Mark Rylance, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Simon Pegg and Lena Thwaite), but every time the story left the “real” world for the VR world and the avatars took over, I literally fell asleep.

I have mixed feelings concerning this could-have-been-much-better teen sex comedy about three young women who make a pact to lose their virginity to their senior prom dates.

If “Blockers” had stuck to that intriguing premise and kept the trio of empowered young women at the center of the tale, “Blockers” might have been a real winner.

Unfortunately, the script keeps cutting away from three talented young actresses to the girls’ embarrassing and annoying parents, who make an opposite pact to keep their daughters virgins.

The Death of Stalin
You will have to drive over to the Varsity Theatre in Davis to see this one, but it will be more than worth the effort, to witness a great cast that includes Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Palin, Simon Russell Beale, Rupert Friend, and Paddy Considine enjoy an actors’ field day.

A pitch-black, laugh-out-loud satire, “The Death of Stalin” takes the historical incident in its title and finds horrifying humor in the universal idea that power corrupts – and absolute power can be insanely funny.

When the tyrannical dictator Joseph Stalin dies unexpectedly in 1953, his henchmen – a bumbling batch of backstabbers – square off in a frantic power struggle.

Hilarity ensues, but a warning is in order: as the body count multiplies, some of the laughs will die in your throat, and you will totally understand why the film was banned in Russia.

I plan to see this one over the weekend now that it has finally opened at Sacramento’s Tower Theatre.

A knock on the door leads to unfathomable grief as a man and his wife learn from military authorities that their son died in the line of duty as a soldier, which may or may not be true.

That is the premise of “Foxtrot,” the highly acclaimed second feature film from Israeli director Samuel Maoz.

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