It is summer time and movie fans know what that means, big dumb blockbuster productions that allow you to shut off your brain for a couple hours while enjoying a thrilling roller coaster ride that is the equivalent of brain candy. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is such a film and that is not a bad thing.
Brought to us by the team National Treasure team, the film is loosely based on the 1940 animated masterpiece of the same name, which in turn was based on the late 1700s poem by Goethe. It stars a noticeably subdued Nicolas Cage as Balthazar an apprentice of the great wizard Merlin tasked with finding Merlin’s direct descendant, the Prime Merlinian. The Prime Merlinian is the only one able to defeat Merlin’s greatest enemy, the evil sorceress, Morgana. And Morgana just happens to be trapped in an artifact that is in Balthazar’s possession.
After centuries of searching Balthazar has set up an antique/magic shop in New York and through what seems like sheer coincidence a young boy named Dave stumbles into the shop one day and Balthazar knows that this is the one he has been searching for. But before he can begin to train the young Dave, Balthazar and his arch nemesis Horvath (Alfred Molina) are trapped in an urn for ten years which allows Dave to become the quirky Jay Baruchel.
The first third of the film is loaded with plot, its not exactly a complicated story but there are a lot of names and terms being thrown around., and so viewers may want to pay close attention to follow everything that is going on. The core of the story though is Dave coming to believe in himself. Baruchel does a solid job as Dave and while I never really connected with him, younger viewers probably will. Nic Cage on the other hand is in rare form, he has toned down his over-the-top theatrics he has become known for and while he looks slightly absurd, his performance is tight.
Molina though steals the show. He looks like he is having a ton of fun as Horvath. Horvath is exactly what you want a summer movie villain to be. He isn’t too serious but he seems just crazy enough that he could accomplish what he is setting out to do. Of course The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is aimed at 12 year old boys and thus Horvath never really had a chance but it does make for some extremely fun confrontations.
The main complaint that can be levied against The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is that it is formulaic to a fault. Nothing in the film is ever truly exciting. It is fun and will leave smiles on faces to be sure but it won’t keep you on the edge of your seat in anticipation of if Balthazar or Dave will survive. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a pop-corn movie, light and airy, never attempting to reach for anything more than that and nobody should expect anything more than that. Is it one of the year’s best? Certainly not but it is a fun little time waster that is worth a go if you like the fantasy genre.
3 out of 5