Ah, remakes…you all know how I feel about remakes. But my mother asked to see this movie as part of her birthday celebration so it was inevitable that this was one I would put money on. Let’s not forget that this particular remake is based on part of the 1940 classic, Fantasia. However ridiculous that sounds, One should not count out The Sorcerer's Apprentice as it is a very enjoyable film, especially for family viewing. While I wouldn’t call it a buddy movie, Disney manages a relatively solid film by pairing Nic Cage and Jay Baruchel.
While considered a remake of the short from Fantasia (Jay even recreates the scene and dresses similar to Mickey Mouse) this film has very little to do with that short other than some screen homage. The story is steeped in magic that goes back to the days of Merlin and Camelot. Merlin had three apprentices, Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage), Veronica (Monica Belluci) and Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina). The trio were like the Justice League of their day, battling Morgana le Fay together until Horvath forgets the cardinal rule of friendship that we today know as “bros before hoes.” I don’t want to spoil the story much so I will fast forward. Balthazar is tasked with finding the Prime Merlinian, the only sorcerer capable of defeating Morgana once and for all. Like most movies these days, the plot is complete Swiss cheese; however, the elements are pieced together in a way that keeps it from falling apart. Add the fact that you have the excellent Alfred Molina, who even if you have no idea how talented he is you must remember Doctor Octopus from Spidey 2, and you have the makings of a story that will fascinate children and satisfy adults.
There is a good reason I focused on the performance of Molina in this flick. He is the only important character in the movie that truly stands on his own. He actually has three sidekicks throughout the film but one has no lines (Gregory Woo), another is brought about just to be cannon fodder (Nicole Ehinger) and the most influential of the three (Drake Stone) is comic relief at best. Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel make the movie, but only because they are together. Honestly, they are perfect for each other because both of them have zero range as actors. That may sound harsh and I honestly like both of them, but facts are facts, Nicolas Cage in this movie is the same guy he was in National Treasure (1 and 2), in Kick-Ass, in Knowing. Hell, he’s the same guy he was in The Rock. Please remember that this is coming from a fan of his work, but I just have to be real about it. The same goes for Jay Baruchel. He is the same guy in this movie that he was in She’s Out Of My League; he is clumsy, self-conscious and almost useless around a pretty girl. That said he still gets the best line of the movie: “There are still parts of New York where a nervous breakdown is known as having a Dave Stutler (his character)!” Yeah, you have to be there for the full effect but trust me, it’s messed up. Personally, the trekkie in me could have done with some more Borg Queen (Alice Krige) action and Monica Belluci was looking too hot to have such a small amount of screen time but this is a family movie so I cannot always get what I want.
What would a film about magic be without some serious magical effects. Once again, Disney delivers. Dragons, hawks, the charging bull in Bowling Green and even a little DBZ action for the kids all come to life on screen. Cage once again gives Batman some homage with his “350-year old rawhide trench coat” that magically protected him from fire and small projectiles. And who wouldn’t want to be able to turn their old run down car into a Mercedes-Benz? Overall, it wasn’t the Matrix in terms of visual effects but it catered to it’s main demographic audience while maintaining a decent degree of quality. This is sadly more than we can ask for from movies these days.
The final verdict is if you have children, or you’re babysitting or you simply cannot afford a good air conditioner in this heat wave, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a great way to kill about two hours and stay cool. It’s going to be a good holiday video release and it will probably become one of those movies you see once a year on whatever XYZ network. Don’t leave until the credits are finished and let’s hope Jay Baruchel gets tough in the inevitable sequel.