THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE
BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
AUGUST 15, 2010
Who knew that after sixty years, Disney’s “Fantasia” would spawn the likes of this year’s Disney summer release, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice?” Based in the realm of magic and containing a sequence straight out of the 1940 animated film with mops and dustpans, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” snares viewers into a world of the unimaginable.
The anthology of the film is stretched over a long period of time, beginning the tale in 740 AD and arriving in the years 2000 and 2010. Legend tells of the great sorcerer Merlin training three apprentices. In a love triangle, one of the apprentices, Horvath (Alfred Molina) turns on his master, joining with the evilest sorceress in history, Morgana (Alice Krige). In an act of love, Veronica (Monica Bellucci) sacrifices herself, leaving Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage) to fend for himself for the next 1300 years, searching for the Prime Merlinian to be revealed. As you can guess, the star of the show, Jay Baruchel, playing Dave, is the absent-minded child found to fill the magical (and pointy old man) shoes.
To get the feel of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” mix a pot of “Harry Potter” with a dash of “Transformers.” Baruchel resembles a nerdier Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky from “Transformers.” Submitted to a world he does not quite understand as he attempts to assimilate to the normal world that he already does not fit into, Dave is forced to choose between the life he has always wanted or the creeping realization that there may be more to the world than his semi-intelligent brain can comprehend. The folklore of the film feels like “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” spanning across the ages and making the stakes larger than ever.
Nicolas Cage is at the peak of his career, boasting a 20-year acting career and showing no signs of stopping. Appearances are everything in the film, with Cage’s long, crimped hair and edgy wardrobe making the film jump from a childish “Harry Potter” feel to a grungy, realistic action flick. Cage’s patented eccentric envelops his character and carries through in many key scenes of the film, from the wide-eyed expression reacting to Dave’s wisecracks about Blake’s “old man” shoes to the response of whether Blake is crazy or not. Cage makes the film a unique experience and proves that he still has what it takes to carry a film.
Alfred Molina reprises his villainous role, coming straight out of “Spider-Man 2” as Doctor Octopus. Replace his intelligent mechanical arms with a glowing cane of sorcery, and the evil genius is back. The subsequent villains are somewhat relatable. Morgana is portrayed effectively, as is the Chinaman Sun-Lok and his enormous dragon. The Salem witch villain, Abigail Williams, was rather out of place in the story and served little purpose to the plot, but with the three villain strategy prior, all being released at different times delivers a highly entertaining plot structure that keeps the viewer engaged.
“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” has a strong ability to come off as in tune with pop-culture due to the music. “Transformers” has always had a way of conjuring a soundtrack that taps into the heart of its viewers, and reinforces the overall love for the film. Linkin Park, the Goo Goo Dolls, Smashing Pumpkins, and Taking Back Sunday are indie bands that take the idea of orchestra scored films and add a sense of personal relationships between the viewers and the film, all while evoking the same emotions and themes carried out through the film. “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” uses the same song to carry through key points of the film, mainly the budding romance evolving onscreen. “Secret” by OneRepublic creates a connection to specific scenes, not only bettering the film overall but adding meaning to otherwise drab scenarios.
Despite all the compliments, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” could have wound up so much more fulfilling. The ending is rather weak, remaining too cookie-cutter and appealing to all the preconceived conceptions. The love story is textbook, yet with newcomer Teresa Palmer coming off both relatable and serene, overlooking the baseline romance is practically effortless.
“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is produced by Walt Disney, showing the “Fantasia” connection more clearly. With the Nicolas Cage factor, the pop music theme, and overall high-end production value, the film is far above expectations. Not as well known as “Transformers,” “Harry Potter,” or “Spider-Man,” in time, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” should attain the same pop-icon status that these films now have to offer, and thus revealing the true magic of the film.
July 14, 2010
Lawrence Konner (story)
Mark Rosenthal (story)
“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Walt Disney Pictures
(for fantasy action violence, some mild rude humor and brief language)
Omar Benson Miller