Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

The Sorcerer's Apprentice - Disney's take on Fantasia | A Constantly Racing Mindleft me here alone today! Now his spirits, for a change,
my own wishes shall obey!
Having memorized
what to say and do,
with my powers of will I can
do some witching, too!


S trike two for Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney this summer. "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,"  languishing in theaters for over 54 weeks and only making $326,717,852 as of this writing. During Prince of Persia's opening weekend it made about $30 million compared to Sorcerer’s Apprentice's $17,619,622. Now the question should be asked, is the The Sorcerer's Apprentice a bad film? Starring Nicolas Cage, who worked with Bruckheimer before in two "National Treasure" films, both films combined to make about $805 million with about half of that in foreign ticket sales. So perhaps this is just par for the course. Co-starring in this fantasy action film is Jay Baruchel the voice of Hiccup in "How to Train Your Dragon," and "She's Out of My League" as the apprentice to Cage's Master Wizard Balthazar Blake. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is rated PG, but is generally safe for kids over 10.

Basing this story on the Arthurian legend of Merlin the Magician, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal set the back story in Britain circa 740 AD. Disney presents us with a new telling the story of Merlin (James A. Stephens) verses Morgana (Alice Krige), aka Morgan le Fey, and their battle between good and evil. Concocting three apprentices of Merlin's, director Jon Turteltaub, quickly shows how the betrayal of Horvath (Alfred Molina), against Balthazar (Cage) and Veronica (Monica Bellucci), sets the stage for the rest of the story. Jumping to ten years ago, we meet the 10-year-old Dave who is on a field trip to inner city New York. On this pivotal day, Dave passes a not to the 10 year old Becky, asking is she would be his girlfriend. Cute huh? Unable to get a reply from the girl because of a gust a wind blows his note halfway across town, leading Dave directly to Balthazar’s Arcana Cabana where the young Dave meets both Balthazar and Horvath's characters. After some initial Harry Potter like battling, both magician's are locked in an ugly looking antique vase while Dave escapes. Confronted by his school class, claiming that the place is on fire and that there were wizards fighting inside, is made to look like a kid with some severe mental problems. Jump 10 more years to Dave (Baruchel), who is now physics major at NYU, nerdy and introverted as ever. Here is where the story becomes typical and unoriginal, as Dave is torn between wizardry and for Becky (Teresa Palmer). Meeting up once again with Horvath, and Balthazar, Dave starts his apprenticeship as a sorcerer.

There is nothing wrong with The Sorcerer's Apprentice as a film and as a story. The acting is fine, not over the top, Cage has had better hair days but in this case, he is passable, Jay Baruchel is goofy and nerdy in a loveable type of way. Teresa Palmer (The Grudge 2Wolf Creek) as Becky was too compliant and uninteresting. Alice Krige is not in the film long enough to show any of her true villainy as she did in 1996's "Star Trek: First Contact", nor is Monica Bellucci on screen long enough to evoke any sensuality. Or perhaps Bellucci's limited screen appearance was to keep the PG rating. As usual, the villain does shine in films such as these, and Alfred Molina does just that. If anything his performance as a villain was on par with Doc Oct from his Spider-Man days. Toby Kebbell as the punk-rock magician Drake Stone was typical well acted and boring. The funny sequences, and there are quite seemed timed and cute but nothing hilarious.


The Sorcerer's Apprentice - Nicolas Cage & Jay Baruchel | A Constantly Racing Mind

Unfortunately, the visual effects were fantastic. What is wrong with fantastic? Nothing, except fantastic is the new ordinary, and we have come to expect the imagery that we see in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." With four or five, "Harry Potter" films, "Percy Jackson and the Olympians," "The Last Airbender," and "The Prince of Persia", visual effects of this quality are to be expected, and there didn't seem anything new in this film that I haven't seen in the last few months. Do I sound jaded? Perhaps I do. Jon Turteltaub is an experienced director and like Nimród Antal ("Armored," "Predators"), competent, but not exciting. Want to explore new territory? Then perhaps try Christopher Nolan or M. Night Shyamalan, as they seem willing to take risks.

The best part of the film and unfortunately the smallest is the reprise of the Fantasia sequence of the dancing brooms. That part in Fantasia itself was inspired Goethe's poem by the same name. Overall, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Shrek Forever After, is passable by adults if you have to take your kids, otherwise I would wait for the DVD version.

Movie Data

Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Year: 2010
Staring: Nicolas Cage, Alfred Molina, Jay Baruchel, Teresa Palmer, Toby Kebbell, Monica Bellucci, Alice Krige
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Producer(s): Jerry Bruckheimer
Writer: Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Matt Lopez
Rating: PG
Running Time: 109 minutes
Release Date: 7/14/2010