A bracing brew of a supernatural kid flick stirring in all the magical ingredients optimum for casting a spell over audiences of all ages, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice wields its charms talking to children, without talking down to them. In other words, malevolence for a refreshing change is packaged as enchanting razzle-dazzle instead of mean-spirited or moronic homicidal gore, and opting for reading minds rather than mindlessly smashing them to bloody bits.
Nicolas Cage, a wizard on camera in his own right who can never seem to disappoint no matter what movie he’s in, moves on from that exceedingly Bad Lieutenant and radically deranged dad in Kick-Ass to yet another questionable adult role model, a warlock can turn killer wolves into puppies when necessary. That rare, repeatedly born again immortal guy who’s not doing time in any current vampire movie, Cage plays Balthazar Blake, a thousand year old guy though seemingly the new forty. Stuck inside a grimhold, one of those Russian derived wooden nesting dolls, he’s freed centuries later by a frightened contemporary schoolboy who then pees on himself, after the breakage accident in a downtown Manhattan antique shop.
A decade later, the humiliated youngster Dave Stutler, is now a matriculated geek at NYU. And he’s being stalked by Balthazar, who has a prophetic hunch that Dave’s got the progeny DNA to help him out in a supernatural crisis of biblical proportions, that could save the planet. But the college physics whiz and social outcast on the other hand, is played by Jay Baruchel. Who is most recently and less famously known for playing a very different sort of messiah on a world mission in The Trotsky. But this time around, just wants to be left alone to major in physics and fixate on more shallow stuff, like pursuing the major hottie coed of his dreams (Teresa Palmer).
However, since Balthazar’s bargain is shaping up into one of those offers you can’t refuse territory, even as fellow immortal evil sorcerer Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina) is out to extinguish both of them in order to enslave humankind, Dave reluctantly joins forces with Balthazar. Though that determined good guy sorcerer has a subtext hidden agenda of his own – to free his forever medieval honey Veronica (Monica Bellucci), who is still being held captive in said grimhold.
Director Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure series) weaves his own brand of hocus pocus wild wizardry that never seems less than real or generated by computers hovering in the background, as noirish New York City sets enhance the lavishly sinister atmosphere. While Cage’s potent charisma does tend to upstage Baruchel at every turn, even if this less than ideal casting choice is playing a terrified wimp.
And though the villains in a very different sort of incarcerated toy story are for some mysterious reason undocumented Brits in the Big Apple, the BP showdown aside, these dolled up figments of the imagination rule in the realm of blockbuster make-believe. As opposed to the usual mechanically driven mind control rather than mind reading movie manipulation.
Walt Disney Pictures