To be honest,I wasn’t expecting much from this movie. The Internet chatter held that it wasn’t very good, and mostly miscast. What I found was that it was much better than I expected in some parts – and even worse that I expected in other parts. It is one mish mash of a movie, but overall, very entertaining.
The premise, what I can make of it, is that the age old battle of good and evil between Merlin and Morgana Le Fey, ended with the death of Merlin and his promise that his full powers would be passed on to another magician yet to be born. His apprentice, Balthazar, goes off on a hike through the centuries to find The One.
After unsuccessfully interviewing African witchdoctors and Indian yogis for the gig, Balthazar winds up running a magical antique shop in Manhattan, and the One turns out to be a nerdy American schoolboy.
So far, no surprises here. Wading through this flood of clichés right at the start certainly dampen’s one’s enthusiasm for what is to follow. In fact I gave up watching when a pile of cockroaches turned into Alfred Molina because it was done much better with Calypso and the crabs in Pirates of the Caribbean and has been done to death since.
But that seemed a cowardly reaction, so I came back to it, determined to sit it out in the interests of research – and actually, it does improve after the cockroaches, when ten years pass and the nerd is now a college student called Dave Stutler, doing research on Tesla coils.
Ten years after embarassing himself in front of the girl of his dreams, Dave runs into her again. Here I am almost tempted to turn off the video again. She’s a cute blonde, and the nerd has never gotten over her. Oh come on, America is full of cute blondes, and they all look the same – at least they do in the movies.
But it pays to keep watching, because things pick up when Balthazar and Horvath come back, and this movie does have some very funny moments, and scenes that are well played, in spite of the fact that most of the time I didn’t have a clue what was going on.
The biggest surprise is Nicolas Cage as Balthazar Blake, Merlin's apprentice. Cage is actually bearable in this role, which he plays with relish and sweep of leather duster that really adds panache. No surprise at all is Alfred Molina, who is marvelous.
It is hard to know what to make of Jay Baruchel, as the Chosen One. At times he seems genuinely appealing, at other times he seems to be channeling Jerry Lewis in The Nutty Professor. He works best with Nicolas Cage, or perhaps Cage is just such a generous actor that he brings out the best in the boy.
The mop scene – a la Mickey Mouse in Fantasia – is very well done, and the wizard battle is hilarious, with Balthazar and Horvath transforming their vehicles. There are brilliantly funny moments, such as Horvath getting stuck in the mirror of a men’s toilet, and his sneering reaction to ‘modern Morganians” – or punk goths.
These flashes of brilliance are more due to the actors and director Jon Turtletaub taking full advantage of them than they are to the script. That’s just all over the place, makes no sense, and is packed with clichés. In fact, in one scene, it even takes the mickey out of its own clichés. It’s the kind of unashamed garbage we see far too much of in movies these days, but since six people are credited with writing it, the resulting mess is hardly unexpected.
Overall, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a good, fun, entertaining popcorn movie for the whole family, with nothing objectionable except the script. And that’s a pity, because Cage and Molina really deserved something better for their efforts.
I paid for this DVD from my own funds.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
The Sorcerer's Apprentice