The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Directed by: Jon Turteltaub Cast: Jay Baruchel, Nicolas Cage, Alfred Molina Running Time: 1 hr 51 mins Rating: PG Release Date: July 14, 2010
PLOT: A 20-year-old (Baruchel) man in New York City finds out from an ageless wizard (Cage) that he is a direct descendant of Merlin. The two work together to stop the evil wizard Horvath (Molina) from ending the world.
WHO'S IT FOR?: This big-budget Disney production has the right amount of action and humor to provide a very solid entertainment experience for families with children in elementary and/or middle school. Though when I consider my own enjoyment with the film, I wouldn't say that this movie's audience is limited to that directly youthful demographic.
EXPECTATIONS: Speculations were at a medium to low level considering the earlier failed blockbuster from Disney that was Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. I was also not sure how I was going to feel about Nicolas Cage's hair this round.
Nicolas Cage as Balthazar: As we all know, The Cagemaster can be a bit loopy at times whether he knows it or not. Thankfully, The Sorcerer's Apprentice is an example of the very-talented actor embracing the goofiness of his presence, for the most part. Yes, he has that dead mop on his head, but at the same time, Cage is given a few opportunities to parody the seriousness of other roles (World Trade Center) and to also make fun of his own wacko appearance. His goofiest moments are when director Turteltaub’s camera zooms in on his face to compliment some "urgent" piece of dialogue, which provides likely unintentional hilarity to moments that are meant to be “serious.” Score: 6
Jay Baruchel as Dave: The geek who once played a Jedi-wannabe in Fanboys is trying to mainstream his dorky image with The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and it works. His quirks and stuttering mannerisms translate well into the role of “new boy wonder,” and best of all – he’s funny. We share in his curiosity as he gets involved with the world of sorcery, and find it believable that a person like him could be a devout science nerd, but still get the girl. Score: 6
Alfred Molina as Horvath: Much like Cage, Molina can contribute to the humor of the movie without losing his villainous edge. At times, his malevolent doings can be seen as entirely harmful, or they can be played up for minor slapstick. Score: 5
TALKING: Often speaking in a too-whispery voice, Cage over-explains the back story of sorcery, and also the methods behind it (Come on, dude, this isn’t Inception we're talking about). Adding to the humor and enjoyable chemistry between Baruchel and Cage is their riff-raff dialogue, the consistent verbal slams on each other make even the less-exciting scenes more amusing. Score: 6
SIGHTS: Anything is possible with the utilization of sorcery, and the great special effects within this movie certainly ring that statement true. Many of the action sequences receive an extra kick of excitement by their tangible reality – especially a car chase that happens in the backwards land of mirroring. For those who are fans of the original story from Fantasia, the script is not without a “broom” sequence, but this one to a modern, more slapstick-like extent. Score: 9
SOUNDS: The pop ballad “Secrets” by OneRepublic makes a continual appearance in the film, and provides the youngster romance its audible motif. Despite this importance, it constantly feels like movie’s only go-to song, which limits the important tunes of the soundtrack soundtrack to that song and also “The Middle,” by Jimmy Eat World. Score: 4
BEST SCENE: Of the many action sequences that involve wondrous special effects and mediated fast pacing, a chase through Chinatown involving a makeshift dragon and a terrified Jay Baruchel might be the most exciting moment.
ENDING: Mickey’s iconic wizard cap, which we see in the original "Sorcerer's Apprentice" short in Fantasia, makes an appearance after the credits.
REWATCHABILITY: The story is the right degree of simple, and the special effects are eye-popping enough that the entertainment quality of this movie could certainly be re-experienced. And, there are enough actually funny jokes in here to keep most audience members laughing during a second time.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice is a tent-pole Hollywood summer film with supports that do not collapse from underneath, despite their suspicious nature. For one, Nicolas Cage usually doesn’t do well in the family film genre – just look at (or rather, don’t) movies like G-Force and Astro Boy. Plus, his “homeless Chad Kroeger” look seems damning to his character’s seriousness, with just one glance at any frame in the trailer. But a good humor balanced with solid action from Cage defeats the naysayers, and provides the actor a zone that is comfortably between serious and goofy.
Second, this was an entire film based off a scene that people remember mostly from Fantasia because it featured brooms dancing, as not controlled by Mickey Mouse. Jay Baruchel, a young man who has climbed towards the top of the Apatow family tree, seemed like an odd choice to play a role that was once made famous by Mickey Mouse. But while Baruchel is no means a Hollywood icon after this picture, he successfully brings his own mousiness to the table, and makes the journey into this odd world of sorcery very inviting. Even when dealing with a story written with a careful formula (love interest, wise master, villain, sidekick, and then maybe sequel) Baruchel makes the experience enjoyable.
Turteltaub’s movie still has some kinks of the ordinary nature that prevent this movie from being an outstanding moment for summer movies, or even an entirely special film of its own. But with the combination of a well picked cast and the fantastically created world of digital effects in which they inhabit, a good deal of fun is possible with The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Even when following the rule book, its true that combining the right elements can lead to some Hollywood magic.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10