Theatrical Review: THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE
Writers: Matt Lopez, Doug Miro, and Carlo Bernard
Director: Jon Turtletaub
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina, Monica Bellucci, Teresa Palmer
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Good, clean fun. That’s what any child (actual or of the heart) expects when they walk into a Disney movie. An hour and a half of family-friendly potty jokes, as well as pretty young actors and actresses, constitutes the formula the studio has developed since the early 50s, and even the non-masterpiece films (I’m looking at you, remake of SHAGGY DOG) follow this structure precisely. And we all love it, even if we don’t own up to it amongst our friends.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed Disney Studio’s newest action/adventure offering, THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE. The movie is a live-action remake of the 1940 FANTASIA animated short about an apprentice who practices his magic on some helpless mops and brooms, and eventually has to have his master clean up the mess. That’s not really the plot of the newest one, I’m just giving you background here, although they do put a little homage to the original cartoon in the feature-length movie. Jon Turtletaub’s follow-up to the NATIONAL TREASURE franchise departs from the creepy, spooky feeling of the Mickey Mouse classic and goes into greater detail about the Sorcerer Balthazar (Nicolas Cage) and his reluctant apprentice, Dave (Jay Baruchel).
After a very long-winded introduction to our three main sorcerers, goodies Balthazar and Veronica (Monica Bellucci), and Balthazar’s number one enemy Horvath (Alfred Molina), we meet the adorable Dave who, while studying for his sophomore year at NYU, is supposed to save the world from Horvath’s mistress Morgana (Alice Krige). Yeah, there are a lot of names, but Disney keeps them simple, which I appreciate.
Once the first twenty minutes have passed, the real meat and fun of the movie begins, as Balthazar begins training Dave for his destiny - destroying Morgana and saving the world from an army of the dead. (Side note: it’s always an army of the dead that comes to destroy us, isn’t it?) Along the way, we run into more obstacles, including a few more evil sorcerers and Dave’s love-interest Becky (Teresa Palmer) who Balthazar may or may not consider a huge distraction from the task at hand. But Nicolas Cage plays crazy pretty well here, so the more time on screen the better.
Cage’s performance is incredible. He takes over every one of his scenes and the crazy twinkle in his eye only makes him more compelling to watch. Anyone can tell you he is a fine actor, but when he has the time to have fun playing a role he takes it places even the most skeptical critic never imagined. While watching him, I wanted to ride along as he mentored Dave in magic and in love, and as the movie neared its climax I knew I would anticipate the likely sequel. It’s good clean fun, with a little camp and crazy sprinkled in for taste.
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