New films in theaters this week:
— “Call of the Wild 3D” (rated PG), a drama “inspired by” the Jack London novel.
— “Imagine That” (rated PG), a comic fantasy starring Eddie Murphy as the father of an imaginative girl.
— “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” (rated R), a remake of the subway hijacking thriller, starring Denzel Washington.
— “Treeless Mountain” (not rated), a downbeat drama about two young girls abandoned by their mother. Korean with subtitles.
— “Valentino: The Last Emperor” (rated PG-13), a documentary about designer Valentino Garavani. With subtitles.
The performances by the young stars of “Treeless Mountain” are unforced and natural. Unfortunately, the story itself is too dour and the film is too slow to hold the interest of most audiences.
And the makers of “Valentino” are too fawning. The behind-the-scenes looks at the fashion industry are fascinating, though.
As for “Call of the Wild,” it’s hard to see why veteran actors like Christopher Lloyd, Veronica Cartwright, Joyce DeWitt and Wes Studi were drawn to this clunky material. Aside from the obvious enticement of a payday …
Speaking of paychecks, Murphy seems uninterested in doing little more than cashing his for “Imagine That.” His performance is as uninspired as the material is.
Poster art courtesy Columbia Pictures
By default, the best major release of the week is the “Pelham” remake. Washington does bring some needed intensity, but his co-star, John Travolta, hams it up. And director Tony Scott relies on the same tiresome gimmicks (camera jittering and blurs, as well as quick-cut edits) that have made a lot of his other movies so hard to watch.
Which, if any, of these movies fit into your weekend viewing plans?