Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Very, very loosely based on the Mickey Mouse section of the classic Disney film FANTASIA (which, I must confess, I never liked very much, heresy though that may be), THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE is a live-action, special-effects-heavy fantasy adventure starring Nicolas Cage as Balthazar Blake, a thousand-year-old wizard who’s a former apprentice of Merlin. Magically unaging, Balthazar has spent that millennium searching for a true descendent of Merlin who can kill the evil Morgan le Fay, who’s trapped in a nesting doll called the Grimhold. Got all that? It comes at the viewer fast and furious early on.

Then Balthazar finds the “True Merlinean” he’s looking for, who turns out to be physics nerd Dave Stutler, played by Jay Baruchel (who else?). Balthazar’s old enemy, the wizard Horvath (Alfred Molina), tries to recover the Grimhold and free Morgan so she can complete a spell that will allow her to take over the world. Magical chaos ensues, accompanied by a lot of bright flashing lights, nerd comedy, and a little romance.

Despite feeling a lot like a lot of other movies you’ve seen, THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE is pretty doggone entertaining. Cage can carry an action film like this and give it some unexpected heft, Baruchel always make an oddball but appealing hero, and Molina is a dependably good villain. The script seems to make up some of its internal logic on the fly, but there are quite a few funny lines and moments. This is a good popcorn movie, the kind you can just sit back and enjoy without thinking too much about it.


Mark Terry said...

One of my kids got it for Christmas, so I saw it for the first time last week. I thought it was surprisingly good, particularly given the drubbing critics gave it. I thought it was fun.

Richard R. said...

I've wondered since the beginning why they chose the name Balthazar for the character. Is it even mentioned? It makes me think of Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet.

James Reasoner said...

There's no mention that I recall of why the character is named Balthazar. He just is.