July 16, 2010 The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures Rating: PG for fantasy action violence, some mild rude humor and brief language.
The creative team behind the "National Treasure" films reunites to create "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."
Inspired by a segment from the Disney animated classic "Fantasia", it stars Nicholas Cage as Balthazar Blake. He's a master sorcerer, a Merlinian, living in modern-day Manhattan.
And for hundreds of years he's been searching for the person who will take up his mantle and continue his fight against evil. He finds that person in a young boy named Dave.
A few years later, Balthazar and Dave (Jay Baruchel) are together once again. The master still wants to train his apprentice, but Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina) has other plans. He wants the forces of darkness to prevail.
Director John Turtletaub delivers a formulaic, but solid film.
"The Sorcerer's Apprentice" has just enough good acting, humor, action and special effects to win me over. It's not quite as clever as the "National Treasure" series, but it's pleasant family entertainment that just about everyone can enjoy.
You never know what you're going to get out of Cage. His career is filled with peaks and valleys that few other performers experience. But here it looks as if he's having a good time as Balthazar tries to teach Dave the secrets of science and magic, passing on to him what he learned from the fabled magician Merlin.
Baruchel gives exactly the same performance here as he has in just about every movie he's been in, but his hangdog, clutzy style is perfect as Dave is thrown into a brand new world.
Molina can certainly play a villain. He was great as Doctor Octopus in the "Spider-Man" sequel and here he projects plenty of menace as Horvath searches for the Grimhold. That's a magical prison which contains other evil sorcerers.
It's typical big-budget summer movie fare, but at least it has a coherent story and entertaining moments. It sets up pretty well for a sequel, so if it makes a lot of money we'll probably be seeing these characters again.
On my rating scale, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" earns a TRIPLE.
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