Wed 14 Jul 2010
Before post production CGI effects , Molina just figured Cage was a nut case.
One of the most iconic short films within “Fantasia”, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (based on the 1797 poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) showcases Mickey Mouse abusing what little magical ability he has to avoid the chore of filling a well with water. After falling asleep, he finds the broomstick he brought to life hasn’t stopped and so Mickey chops it into pieces, only for each splinter to reform as an individual broom and multiply the chaos. Eventually, the sorcerer puts an end to things and gets the happiest rodent on Earth back to his task. The End.
Now that tale has been extrapolated, stretched and conjured into a feature length film of the same name that pits Nicolas Cage with the task of teaching Jay Baruchel how to stop an evil wizard (Alfred Molina). So … yeah … that’s so … not similar. And did I mention Cage and Molina were taught magic by Merlin? No? Well, don’t worry the first five minutes of the film will.
As it opens, audiences are ‘treated’ to the expositional equivalent of a bedtime story regarding an evil sorceress (Alice Krige) and Merlin’s quest to stop her from destroying the world. It’s done in a bland and made for cable sort of fashion, made doubly annoying because the information could just have easily been told to us later when Cage must relate the tale to Baruchel … maybe they were thinking that if you showed up a few minutes late, you might have missed this ‘crucial’ information? Whatever.
The director behind the project is Jon Turtletaub, of “National Treasure” fame (and yes, there’s a third film in that franchise supposedly in the works … no thanks). Well, apparently, his trademark is delivering safe, predictable fare to audiences not looking for mental exercise. There’s nothing inherently wrong in that, we all need a no-brainer now and again. However, it means that for a little less than 2 hours, we’re treated to a bland and lifeless affair.
The CGI is all adequately handled, Molina clearly enjoys camping it up, Teresa Palmer was a nice choice to be Baruchel’s love interest and there are some interesting minor wizards that get far too little screen time in comparison to their more recognizable, yet ho hum, cast mates. None of the story is fresh or surprising, and instead of concentrating on the infinite possibilities that could be realized through such wondrous magic, what we get is a simple student/master tale, with some romantic angles thrown in for the ladies.
If you think the trailer looks exciting and you enjoyed the “National Treasure” films, you’ll be right at home here (and the screening audience I saw this with seemed to enjoy it far more than I did). If neither of those qualifications meet your approval, steer yourself into another theater. “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” gets a 2.5 out of 5. For those of you still headed to see what Cage and company have wrought, stick around through the end of the credits for a tease at a possible sequel (that you see coming before the credits even begin to roll … have I mentioned this is predictable?).