The blank space at the end of this sentence represents how much I care that a beloved children's classic like The Sorcerer's Apprentice has been exploited for a modern-day "boom! boom! KABLOWIE" Disney movie:
Granted, I might change my tune if they were defiling a work of art I had a close personal attachment to, but since they're not likely to make DuckTales: The Squeakquel any time soon, I think I'm safe. (Confidential to Hollywood: please make that movie already. Haven't you been getting my scripts?)
Point is, great art can't be damaged by remakes, sequels, prequels, or reboots. People can still find and enjoy the inspirational material, can't they? If crummy derivative works drag down the original, how do you explain that we still love Jurassic Park despite all that velociraptor slash fiction in your drawer? QED, everyone who may not even be making this argument. If you're going to hate the modern-day The Sorcerer's Apprentice, at least hate it on its own terms.
More than 1,000 years ago, Merlin was killed by the evil sorceress Morgana, who was in turn imprisoned in a magic nesting doll. Merlin's apprentice Nicolas Cage has guarded the doll ever since, waiting for the arrival of the sorcerer who'll be able to destroy Morgana once and for all.
He finds the promised wizard in physics student Jay Baruchel, who accidentally loses the doll and releases evil sorcerer Alfred Molina into the world. If Molina recovers the doll before they do, the whole world may fall under Morgana's sway.
In other words, blah blah blah made-up foolishness convoluted MacGuffin yadda yadda doofy hair etc. Plot is not The Sorcerer's Apprentice's strong point. It's a tireless barrage of chasing, acquiring, losing, saving and unbelievable leaving-aliving. These people have more chances to kill each other than coworkers at the Acme Poison Factory. Why do they keep leaving each other alive? Oh, right, because movies can't end after 40 minutes.
Worse, all this bullmyth is set up by a two-minute summary to start the film, a confused, "Who are all these people and why do we care?" prologue that kicks things off with entirely the wrong foot.
Despite its generally worthless plot, The Sorcerer's Apprentice pulls off the deft feat — some might say, "the magic trick," heh heh — of being fairly fun. Two causes: some real creativity and well-cast leads.
I think of Nicolas Cage the same way I think about combining the last drops of all the bottles on my shelf into one big shot: distasteful, but sometimes it's exactly what I need. He takes a good turn as an eccentric, ancient wizard, and while Baruchel isn't breaking from type as another skinny geek, he's still funny.
The magic they sling about has some cool moments, too, notably the business with the paper dragon suddenly becoming a very angry real one. On the other hand, The Sorcerer's Apprentice frequently descends into the territory of "Well, now we need the movie to do this, so uh... let's have someone cast a spell," so it's not like it ever avoids being annoying for too long. Also a dog pees on something for laughs.
So what kind of movie is this? A loud, daft, fight-filled cutestravaganza? Or a funny, charming, playful piece that captures precisely how awesome wizards can be? Definitely more the former than the latter. But there were moments when I was having fun, and that always counts for something.