The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a fun and thoroughly enjoyable fantasy film that is fast paced and features some great performances by its leads; if only they could have gone a bit grander in the fights and action set pieces.
The film opens with a little back story as we encounter Merlin fighting with Morgana who is trying to steal a powerful spell from him and the ensuing fight leads to Merlin’s death and sets his apprentice, Balthazar, on a quest to find the Prime Merlinian, the fabled sorcerer’s successor. Enter Dave, who comes across Balthazar many hundreds of years into his quest and he is revealed to be a potential successor to Merlin. A bit of a hiccup delays any training and Dave grows up unknowing of his lineage until Balthazar reappears ten years after their first encounter and the set off to stop a growing threat of the possibility of the resurgence of Morgana.
The film is inspired by the famous short film from Fantasia, but the apprenticeship and obvious homage to the mop chaos scene Mickey get’s himself into in Fantasia are where the similarities stop. The film seems to blaze its own path, I don’t know my Merlin lore, and the magic world is constructed well and delivered engagingly to the audience and we sink right into the world Jon Turteltaub and his team has created for us. The film zips along and while most people might not know who Jay Baruchel is they should have no problems following him along his path to becoming the world’s next great sorcerer. Baruchel is funny, endearing, and immensely likable as our unlikely hero and you will be rooting for him in all of his endeavors; romantic and magical. Baruchel’s humor might make or break the film for some people, but I think most will get right behind him.
The much vilified (wrongly in my eyes) Nic Cage continues to roll in his recent string of rolls as he infuses Balthazar with lots of humor and just the right bit of craziness to help create one of the best Disney characters in recent history. Alfred Molina also spares none of his talent as the excellent villain of the picture; an ex-Merlin apprentice who turned on Balthazar and Merlin to side with Morgana. Toby Kebbell is also quite good as usual as a Morgana worshiper who assists Molina on his quest.
The magic is almost a character itself in the film and while it is done very well and is plentiful, I do wish they would have done a bit more with it and had a couple of grander fights. Not that the spectacle we get isn’t some pretty cool stuff, it just felt like there was room to take things just a hair further. The effects work in the film is top notch though and you won’t see much better work this summer from the fantasy genre.
The film is able to stay enjoyable by instilling quality humor throughout, aided greatly by Baruchel’s background and an always game Cage, tons of set pieces, and pacing that rarely stops to let you breath. Turteltaub’s effort here is the best of his Disney films (the National Treasure franchise) and anyone that is a fan of the Bruckheimer brand will have plenty to enjoy. For those that cower in fear at the sign of Bruckheimer though, fear not, as the film doesn’t feel quite as cut from the same mold like Prince of Persia’s bit too familiar tone earlier this summer.
In the end, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a fun, family fantasy film that is not to be missed by those that are at all interested. It had me laughing throughout, Cage and Baruchel are both hilarious and immensely likeable, and the film is wonderfully paced and doesn’t waste a moment. The film is a great groundwork for an obviously hopefully franchise, I just hope that future films (if they happen) take this premise to its full potential that this picture falls a bit short of. Regardless of its shortcomings I easily recommended this magical fantasy, it’s a fun genre we need more of outside the Harry Potter franchise.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a B