When I originally heard that Disney was planning on making a feature length film based on the segment from the 1940s film Fantasia I was a little skeptical. Well, actually I was flooded with images of dancing hippos and potty training (don’t ask), but that’s neither here nor there. Like I was saying, I was skeptical; not Pirates of the Caribbean skeptical, but you get my point. And just like back in 2003 I am more than pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
Thinking past a mouse finding a roundabout way to do his chores, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice introduces a backstory spanning way back to the final days of the sorcerer Merlin as he fights to stop Morgana in the battle between good and evil. When the final spell has been cast Merlin lies dead, Morgana is entombed in a magical nesting doll, and Merlin’s apprentice Balthazar must now begin the long journey to find Merlin’s successor, the Prime Merlinian (feel free to take all the time you need to laugh that one off). After a long, long time of searching Balthazar finally comes across a young boy named Dave who just might be who he has been looking for all this time, and the best chance the forces of good have against stopping Morgana from ever being a threat again.
Balthazar and Dave may be fighting to stop a truly dire situation threatening the whole world, but the journey taken to prevent it does not diverge from a lighthearted pace and story (*cough* The Last Airbender *cough*). Jay Baruchel is back in another role that sets him up to go from zero to hero, showing how well he can personify this journey without the help of animation this time around (as opposed to How to Train Your Dragon). He may not be able to escape his voice that screams nerd, but for once in a film he made me believe that a beautiful girl could fall for the “dork” in the short amount of time that the main span of the movie takes place over. Nicolas Cage steps into the pointy shoes of Balthazar, the man with the sage wisdom for Dave as he helps him become the sorcerer he needs to be. Baruchel and Cage make a great comedic team together and each and every scene of theirs are helped by how well they play off each other, leading to a performance of Cage’s that I was surprisingly not annoyed by.
The magic is obviously a very important part of the film, so thank goodness the visual effects do not disappoint. Not only that, but the range of the different uses of magic throughout the film keep everything fresh and exciting. Plasma bolts are fired, things are set on fire, inanimate objects are brought to life (including some mops in a great homage to the original short), and there is never a point in the film that the graphics ruin the illusion. In addition to the magical uses, the computer graphics are also put to good use in the scientific realm, thanks to the welcome blending of these two worlds, bringing about a lighting show with Dave’s Tesla coils that rivals the mops for best use of CGI.
In all honesty there isn’t a whole lot for me to include in the “con” side of my list. At its basic level story is filled with familiar plot points, but the actors’ performances and visual effects keep it fresh and entertaining. However, one thing I cannot forgive is the overuse of the great pop song “Secrets” by OneRepublic, as well as some other music choices. I can forgive the former because of how it fits with the before mentioned Tesla coil scene and how it is kind of swoon-worthy, however, overall the music was a little much and brought on an annoying need of the guy sitting next to me to accompany the soundtrack with his feet. But if that is my main issue with the film then that is more than a job well done.
Overall The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is an entertaining film that creates a world that I would love to come back to if this film spawns any sequels down the road, as long as they continue to do the mouse proud.
Final Grade: B