The movie’s trailer doesn’t say it (maybe) but from the producers and director of the hit movie National Treasure, comes this summer’s magical journey into the world of sorcery, ages-old battle between good-versus-evil and one in which the fate of mankind lies in the hands of an unsuspecting 20-year physics nerd. Who doesn’t want to be, but has to become, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Nicholas Cage stars as Balthazar Blake, an ageless sorcerer, who’s been fighting alongside fellow sorcerer Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina) & sorceress Veronica (Monica Bellucci) under the guidance of sage sorcerer Merlin, against the evil Morgana Le Fay. In 740 AD, Horvath turns against them and along with Morgana, kills Merlin but before they could wreak havoc upon mankind, Veronica absorbs Morgana within herself and Balthazar entraps all three into a prison-doll called the grimhold. Merlin suggests Balthazar should search for a sorcerer who’s the Prime Merliner, one who’s destined to defeat these evil powers. Balthazar’s quest cuts across history before he finds David Stutler (Jay Baruchel). Balthazar becomes Dave’s master and as his apprentice, Dave must learn to control the magical powers and use them to save the world!
I’m a big fan of the National Treasure movies which were about treasures, clues in plain-sight and a fun-ride for its hunting. Director Jon Turteltaub and Nicholas Cage turn into the mystical world of sorcery and magic for TSA and it isn’t as fun a ride as a treasure hunt. For one, movies such as Harry Potter, Narnia, LoTR have made it a far lesser novelty of a genre and unless it is typically different or offers something new, its gonna be a yawn-inducing affair. Thankfully, TSA has few interesting happenings which though not novel, do hold the audience’s sway, especially the fun-loving ones. Cynical ones will find this boring (ahem!)
The movie’s CGI-heavy, of course, and some of the special effects are quite good. But there are a few ‘wtf’ moments, especially ones involving a dragon and a steel-n-concrete eagle! There’s a car chase which is eminently enjoyable. Ditto a funny dishwashing/cleaning scene. There are no lengthy spells but several of the magical tricks are eye-catchy. As with any magic/sorcery movie, the climax has a regular old good-versus-evil battle but its surprisingly tepid herein. It was too predictable as well.
Nicholas Cage can probably sleepwalk through such roles nowadays and fits it to a T. His costumes are somewhat old-fashioned, giving us the impression that he preferred old-world-charm to new-fangled mumbo-jumbo. There are no witty one-liners or goggle-inducing smirks for him, which are entirely thrust upon Jay Baruchel. I’ve seen none of his other movies but he too fits the role of a nerdy physics student who doesn’t want the burden of being a sorcerer plus a saviour thrust upon him. His nasal and drone-like speech is a masterstroke for the role and he carries off the learning-curve aspect of the apprentice quite well. But he doesn’t inspire confidence as a saviour towards the climax, which I felt would have been better if handled by Cage himself. But of course, he’s not the apprentice!
Alfred Molina seems looks disinterested in his part as the primary villain and doesn’t come across as a sinister all-conquering sorcerer. His wand yields more magic than him, it seems! There’s also some romance in this movie, with Balthazar’s timeless love for Veronica but Monica Belucci has too small a role to make any lasting impression. There’s also a teenage romance between Dave & Becky (Teresa Palmer), his childhood sweetheart who overcomes her fear of heights to turn the tables on the evil sorceress Morgana in the climax.
At just over 100 minutes, the movie is a short one and with a more convincing storyline and a grander finale, would have been a far more enjoyable experience. There’s probably room for it but I guess it won’t be such a roaring success to warrant any sequels.