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  • Writer's picturePopEntertainment

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (A Movie Review)


Starring Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina, Teresa Palmer, Toby Kebbell, Nicole Ehinger, Peyton List, Monica Bellucci, Alice Krige, Jake Cherry, Omar Benson Miller, Peyton List, Robert B. Capron, Ethan Peck, James A. Stephens and Nicole Ehinger.

Screenplay by Matt Lopez and Doug Miro & Carlo Bernhard.

Directed by Jon Turteltaub.

Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. 111 minutes. Rated PG.

The Walt Disney Company has been systematically remaking pretty much every title in its huge library over the past couple of decades. Still, when I heard of this film – which shares the famous Disney title of a legendary Mickey Mouse short musical section from the classic movie Fantasia, I thought: They can’t be remaking that? Right???

After all, the short was just that – a short – and one with very little storyline, more of a visual extravaganza with Mickey and dancing mops, soaps, and brooms.

When the coming attractions trailers came for this film came out, it reassured me a bit. It had Nicolas Cage in his crazy mentor mode and Jay Baruchel in his lovable nebbish mode fighting off dragons and having high-speed car chases through modern New York City.

It must be that Disney was just using a classic title for a totally unrelated story.

And it is. But…

In the middle of this modern action/adventure film, they have shoehorned in a “tribute” to the original movie, a live-action recreation of the classic animated sequence – having Baruchel replace Mickey as the inept young wizard who tries to use magic to clean up and ends up losing control of his spell.

That is a whole lot of finagling just to be able to use the “Inspired by” credit. And frankly, this little sequence makes the film screech to a halt – it is so obviously superfluous to the rest of the story that any whimsy and nostalgia it may have to offer is overshadowed by a sense of corporate cynicism.

It’s just another added ingredient to an already overstuffed confection cooked up by Jerry Bruckheimer and Jon Turteltaub – the people behind the National Treasure movies – for their go-to lead, Nicolas Cage.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice wasn’t all that great a movie even before this little sequence, but that part makes the story lose its footing and it never completely regains it balance.

Cage plays Balthazar, one of three former apprentices of Merlin. In a long and rather confusing introduction (which has become pretty common in Bruckheimer’s body of work), we get the back story. When the old sorcerer is betrayed and killed by an evil sorceress named Morgana (Alice Krige, who always plays a good baddy) the sorceress is enslaved in a magic nesting doll – as well as the other two apprentices, Balthazar’s best-friend-turned-evil, Horvath (Alfred Molina), and the love of his life, Veronica (Monica Bellucci), as well as quite a few other magic bad guys.

Balthazar is given the responsibility of living forever, protecting the world from the doll, and searching the world for a new sorcerer who will be able to finally vanquish the evil Morgana. Good and evil are so black and white here that the good guys in this film are called Merlinians and the bad guys are Morganians.

He finally finds that potential sorcerer in Dave (Baruchel), an NYU science geek who had stumbled into Balthazar’s Greenwich Village antiques shop as a boy. Ten years later he is a struggling but brilliant scientific student who has no idea he has magical powers. However, Dave has no interest in saving the world. All he cares about is winning over his gorgeous long-time crush Becky (Teresa Palmer).

Ironically, in the DVD outtakes, in one scene that didn’t make the cut, Cage uses a line that incorporates another recent Baruchel movie title, “I’m not saying she’s out of your league.” But, yes, she really is.

At least Cage didn’t say, “I’m not telling you how to train your dragon” – because there is one of those here, too.

The rest of the movie consists of Balthazar teaching Dave the ways of the wizard while Dave starts to chastely romance Becky – who starts seeing something in him due to his rising confidence. Meanwhile, Horvath has escaped the nesting doll and wants to find and kill Dave and free Morgana to destroy the world.

All of this leads to a climactic battle on Wall Street – in a nice if not totally subtle jibe about good and evil. This climax is typical Bruckheimer stuff, as special effects it is very impressive looking but if you think about it, it really doesn’t make all the much sense.

Then again, sadly, you can say that about the entire movie.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2010 All rights reserved. Posted: November 20, 2010.


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