The Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment of “Fantasia” might be the most historic scene in the history of Disney animation. I’m sure we all remember watching the sequence staring Mickey Mouse as a child and thinking, “You know what this is missing? Nicolas Cage!”
In Disney’s reimagining of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” Cage plays Balthazar Blake, a sorcerer who fought alongside Merlin. You’d think that Merlin’s star pupil would be of British descent. Yet Balthazar speaks with a clear-cut American accent, centuries before the U.S.A. was even colonized.
It’s probably for the best that Cage doesn’t attempt to pull off an English accent though. I can only imagine how laughable it would sound.
Merlin is betrayed and murdered by his ally Maxim Horvath, played by Alfred Molina, who decides to join forces with the wicked Morgana.
Balthazar manages to trap the two evil sorcerers in a mystical Matryoshka doll. Several centuries go by as Balthazar searches for a worthy apprentice to destroy Morgana for good.
In the year 2000, a young boy named Dave stumbles upon Balthazar’s shop and accidentally releases Maxim from his prison. Balthazar and Maxim duke it out and in the process are both ensnared in a magic vase.
Another 10 years pass. Dave, played by Jay Baruchel, is now a nerdy college student attempting to win the affections of a girl named Becky, played by Teresa Palmer.
Meanwhile, Balthazar and Maxim break free from the vase. Balthazar takes on Dave as his apprentice to help track down Maxim who wants to let loose Morgana and destroy the world.
Jay Baruchel from “Tropic Thunder” and “How to Train Your Dragon” makes for a likable hero and is absolutely convincing as an ordinary dork swooped into a world of sorcery. Alfred Molina is entertaining no matter what part he takes on. Nicolas Cage has plenty of fun playing himself. The one character that we don’t get enough of is Toby Kebbell as Drake Stone, a magician with real powers who somewhat resembles Criss Angel.
I enjoyed bits and pieces of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” However, I felt it tried far too hard to put a 21st century twist on what was originally a simple poem written in 1797.
The story is all over the place and the film is more reliant on visual effects rather than real magic. “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” certainly isn’t a special effects travesty that will warp your child’s imagination like “The Last Airbender.” But it doesn’t have the intricacy of the “Harry Potter” films, humor of “Enchanted” or depth of “Where the Wild Things Are.”
If I was in between the ages of 4 and 10, I might have appreciated “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” for it’s relentless energy and colorful action sequences.
When I was a kid I also thought “Hocus Pocus” was a cinematic achievement. As a cultured and snooty adult though, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” just didn’t do much for me. It lacks the sophistication that made movies like “Toy Story 3” and “Despicable Me” entertaining for all ages.
If you have young children they’ll probably dig “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” as much as they did “G-Force.” For older audiences though, the film is a bit of a bore.
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