by Rick Grant
This film is the third collaboration between Nicolas Cage and director Jon Turtletaub–National Treasure 1 & 2. The movie co-stars Jay Baruchel (She’s Out of My League) as Dave, a science geek who attends NYU.
With Jerry Bruckheimer’s stamp of audience acceptance, this fantasy story was a safe bet for Walt Disney Pictures. In these tough economic times, trust Bruckheimer to have his finger on the pulse of what gets moviegoers excited enough to leave the comfort of their homes and travel to the nearest cineplex to see a movie.
The story is an old folk tale. And yes, we all remember the Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment of Fantasia, with Mickey Mouse directing the brooms. In this modern interpretation, there is a funny reference to that segment, with Dave directing mops and brooms inside his Tesla arc lab.
Nicolas Cage plays Balthazar, an ancient sorcerer who has his nemesis, Horvath (Alfred Molina) confined in a Russian nesting doll for over ten years. Balthazar lives in dread fear that Horvath will escape and unleash the “rising,” launched by an evil witch, Morgana (Alice Krige) who will bring to life all the evil spirits in the world to destroy the Earth as we know it.
The pairing of the immortal sorcerer and his apprentice, a nerdy guy who would seem the most unlikely person to be chosen as the sorcerer’s apprentice, is an accommodation to Jay Baruchel’s acting style. He is the quintessential underdog, but he harbors undiscovered sorcery talents that Balthazar is able to nurture and eventually bring out.
Director Turtletaub’s spectacular scenes explode with CGI effects and non-stop action. For the most part, all this wizardry is wildly entertaining as Horvath escapes and wreaks havoc on Balthazar and Dave. That darn nesting egg is rocking and rolling.
The classic battle between good and evil drives this scenario. And, since Bruckheimer produced the film, he demands the obligatory car chases through NYC. As Balthazar can change his car to any high performance street rod that pops into his mind, it makes for an interesting duel of cars racing on the streets of Manhattan.
In this fantasy context, anything goes and the laws of physics go out the window. Still, the special effects are well done, especially the plasma balls that Dave shoots at the bad guys.
The kid and his mentor bond, but Balthazar discourages Dave’s romance with Becky (Teresa Palmer). However, Dave is driven by his hormones and love for Becky, who he takes into his confidence admitting he is a sorcerer. Funny, she accepts his explanation for the weird occurrences in his Tesla lab, like the out of control mops. He even asks for her help in a big scene.
Cage seems to love playing these bigger than life characters. His portrayal of Balthazar, with his long hair, trench coat, and hat is convincingly authentic, given that viewers suspend their disbelief in immortal sorcerers.
This film is pure fantasy entertainment and an exciting movie for the entire family.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice Movie Review
by Rick Grant