Movie Review: ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’

Movie Review: ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’

Nicolas Cage is best known for his tortured looks and serious demeanour (excluding more recent pictures) and Jay Baruchel is well known for his deadpan deliveries in dark comedies. But in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, both actors appear to have decided to just have fun in the Disney live-action fantasy. Dave (Baruchel) is just an average […]

Nicolas Cage is best known for his tortured looks and serious demeanour (excluding more recent pictures) and Jay Baruchel is well known for his deadpan deliveries in dark comedies. But in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, both actors appear to have decided to just have fun in the Disney live-action fantasy.

Dave (Baruchel) is just an average college student, until the sorcerer Balthazar Blake (Cage) recruits him as his reluctant protégé and gives him a crash course in the art and science of magic. As he prepares for a battle against the forces of darkness in modern-day Manhattan, Dave finds it is going to take all of the courage he can muster to survive his training, save the city and get the girl (Teresa Palmer).

Cage has had a tendency of late to overact (see Knowing), but the instances of it in this film simply work. The centuries old sorcerer is out of place but very dedicated and enthusiastic to be finally completing his quest, so his over-zealousness is fitting. Baruchel is permitted a different sort of fun as a young man that is refusing one destiny to pursue another, while not being confident of either path. The general character of a guy hopelessly in love with bigger problems than his next date is not foreign to Baruchel, but the context is definitely new territory.

Disney has attempted to appeal to everyone with this film: the draw of magic may be large, but its main target is the younger viewers in the audience; the explosions and fights are choreographed for the guys; and the surprisingly dominant love story is included for the ladies. However, the romantic angle is undesirably overbearing and the electrifying finale is anti-climactic as it’s shown mostly from a distance.

Even though the effects are a cornerstone of the film, they never achieve the expected level of astounding that a fantasy promises. In fact, most of what is showcased has been done before – energy balls, electricity bolts and a dragon (though that bit does attain a certain level of cool). Nonetheless, a surreal moment for the slightly older patrons may be the live action interpretation of the beloved Mickey Mouse animation, also titled The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, from 1940’s Fantasia.

The film reunites director Jon Turteltaub and Cage, who’ve previously collaborated on Disney’s National Treasure films. Unfortunately, as of yet, the pair have not managed to find all the ingredients for an inclusive success.

In the end, the only way to truly enjoy the picture is to follow its actors’ leads and simply have fun while watching it. Then, if you must, lay judgment the following day.