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  • PG
  • Action, Adventure
  • 2010

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Synopsis

Jon "National Treasure" Turteltaub brings this timeless fantasy right up to date.

About

A young fool uses a master magician's spells to enchant a broom to do household chores, but gets into deep water when he is unable to stop the magic. It's a story that stretches back to the Lover Of Lies by the second century sophist Lucian, and has since been turned into a fourteen-stanza ballad (Der Zauberlehrling) by German writer Goethe in 1879 and a symphonic poem (L'apprenti sorcier) by French composer Paul Dukas in 1897. That's quite the heritage. Thanks, however, to the animated version of Dukas' music in Fantasia (1940), with none other than Mickey Mouse cast in the role of the novice, the story of the Sorcerer's Apprentice will always be associated with Disney.

Disney is also behind this new Jerry Bruckheimer production - although apart from a single, not altogether integral sequence featuring cameos from both Dukas' music and an army of bewitched mops, this version of The Sorcerer's Apprentice is rather different from the traditional tale. Not that it is exactly all-new either - for the sort of coming-of-age story that is set within a mythic/supernatural framework is familiar from films like Star Wars (which is expressly referenced in one scene here), How To Train Your Dragon (with which this film shares both its lead Jay Baruchel and a dragon) and Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief (also set in contemporary New York City) - not to mention the whole Harry Potter franchise.

Here our apprentice is Dave Stutler (Baruchel), a self-confessed 'nerd' whose commitment to science the script unconvincingly tries to suggest is somehow compatible with a natural aptitude for magic - and just to be clear here, by 'magic' the film does not mean the paradoxes of quantum physics, but rather wizards who take their shape from armies of massed cockroaches, steel gargoyles that come to life, and people who become trapped in the other side of mirrors.

Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage), himself a one-time apprentice to the wizard Merlin, reveals that unassuming, lovelorn Dave is in fact the 'Prime Merlinian', destined to destroy the evil sorceress Morgana Le Fay (Alice Krige), and so begins training his apprentice in the sorcerer's arts. Unfortunately, the treacherous Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina), is racing to resurrect Morgana...

Helmed by Jon Turteltaub, who previously directed Cage for Disney in the National Treasure movies, The Sorcerer's Apprentice is essentially a series of CGI-inflected set-pieces glued together by the odd funny line and the charisma of its leads. Baruchel is a lovable schlub given to self-deprecation, Molina lends psychotic charm to pure evil, Cage delivers dialogue while brandishing a pickle - and you can sense all of them straining to make the material transcend its cliches and inherent silliness. They never quite pull it off, but their efforts are what make this film worth seeing, far more than the endless chases, spells and plasma-ball duels.

Want more movie magic? Click here for The Sorcerer's Apprentice star Toby Kebbell's top big screen wand wielders

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Nicolas Cage, Monica Belluci, Toby Kebbell, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina
  • Director: Jon Turteltaub
  • Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
  • Photographer: Bojan Bazelli
  • Composer: Trevor Rabin

In a nutshell

As a contemporary fantasy, it is more holiday filler than summer magic, but the cast does its best to bring all the cliches to life.

by Anton Bitel

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