THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE
*** (out of 5)
July 14, 2010
Nicolas Cage as BALTHAZAR
Jay Baruchel as DAVE
Alfred Molina as HORVATH
Teresa Palmer as BECKY
Directed by: Jon Turteltaub
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I’ve never been wild about making an adaptation that has almost nothing to do with the original (or secondary, in this case) source. Like “The Lawnmower Man” in the early 90s, which had only a scrap of dialogue in common with the original Stephen King short story, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the classic Mickey Mouse interlude in “Fantasia.”
In this highly interpretive version of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” Jay Baruchel plays Dave, a guy in his early 20s who learns he has a connection to a centuries-old sorcerer named Balthazar (Nicolas Cage). Dave becomes Balthazar’s apprentice and tries to help him keep Merlin’s nemesis Morgana Le Fay imprisoned in a magical container.
While it seems to be aiming for the Harry Potter crowd, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” hits a little younger. The Harry Potter films have an extremely wide demographic, capturing the imagination of children and grown-ups alike. Instead, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” seems more in line with last year’s “Race to Witch Mountain,” which I fully enjoyed but also realized it was meant for my kids.
This really isn’t a criticism of the film. After all, the Walt Disney Company has had a long-standing career making movies for a young audience. It seems, though, that the inclusion of Jerry Bruckheimer as producer shows hopes that they’d have a multi-quadrant hit.
But like “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” just isn’t the blockbuster material the executives are hoping for. They’re gonna have to take a few more shots before they create the “Pirates of the Caribbean” lightning in the bottle.
As for the film, director Jon Turteltaub works with Nicolas Cage again, hoping to capture the spark of the “National Treasure” movie. And while everyone’s tongues are planted firmly in their cheeks, the script isn’t quite there with this film.
The overexposed Jay Baruchel does his best to carry a movie, but unfortunately, unless he’s working in the raunchy comedy (like “She’s Out of My League”) or the angsty indie film, he just doesn’t have the star chops to be a solid lead.
The movie loses focus in the middle, not really knowing if it’s going for a serious wizard film or a silly comedy. I’m okay with either, but I wish they would have made up their mind before they started filming.
Still, the movie is quite enjoyable. The action and effects are fun, which anyone might expect from a Bruckheimer flick. And Nicolas Cage is a hoot to watch even though he phones in his performance almost as much as he did for “Ghost Rider.”
But the real judge for this film is the reaction of my children. They didn’t seem to embrace it the way they did “Prince of Persia,” but they enjoyed it quite a bit. So if you want some time with the kids, you could do worse. But even the Disney apologist in me can’t recommend this to anyone who doesn’t have a child in tow.