“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is a remake of the famous segment in Disney’s “Fantasia” in name only. Sure there are a few lively mops and other cleaning supplies that come to life, echoing Mickey Mouse’s symphonic cartoon, but in the new version there is also wild special effects, Nic Cage’s crazy hair and best of all, Jay Baruchel as the title character.
The story begins in 740 AD, when Merlin is betrayed by one of his three apprentices. A battle between loyal Merlinians Balthazar (Nicolas Cage) and Veronica (Monica Bellucci) and the turncoat Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina) ends when Veronica is trapped in a magic nesting doll called a Grimhold with Horvath and evil sorceress Morgana (Alice Krige). Cut to the 21st century. Balthazar has searched for one thousand years to find “the Prime Merlinian,” the only person powerful enough to kill Morgana and free Veronica from the Grimhold. The centuries long search ends up at the door of Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel) a nerdy New York City physics student who sounds a lot like the guy from “How to Train Your Dragon.” In the coming days Dave not only learns about sorcery, but also a thing or two about self confidence, his love interest (played by ScarJo look-a-like Teresa Palmer) and how to defeat the forces of evil.
“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is the second Jerry Bruckheimer movie of the summer season, following “The Prince of Persia.” Like “The Prince of Persia” this movie takes a thin premise and stretches it to feature length, but unlike the ill fated “Prince” “Apprentice” dishes up fun characters to go along with the trademark Bruckheimer action.
Baruchel, Cage and Molina ground the movie with, if not exactly believable characters—I believe Cage as a thousand year old sorcerer, but I don’t believe that hair is actually his!—then characters that can hold their own against the film’s frenetic pace and wild action. Director Jon “National Treasure” Turteltaub keeps the pedal to the metal, plunking in an action sequence about every ten minutes. The action is typical Bruckheimer CGI overdrive but is inventive and mostly family friendly. There are a couple of images that may disturb very young kids, but anyone over the age of ten shouldn’t find anything here they haven’t already seen in videogames.
Cage and Molina bring a larger-than-life feel to their characters. Cage isn’t exactly in his extreme “Bad Lieutenant” form here, but he is clearly having fun; ditto Molina who clearly relishes playing the bad guy.
Those guys eat up the scenery but it is Baruchel who provides the heart of the film. He brings the same charm and way with physical comedy to this mega-budget film as he does to the smaller character based movies he makes like “The Trotsky.” He’s appealing and even when the romance aspect of the story starts to drag Baruchel keeps us on side.
“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is a great air conditioner movie for these thermometer-busting summer days.