The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a Jerry Bruckheimer production.
Translation: Action sequences pumped to suspension of disbelief levels by cheesy but big-budget effects and a fair number of car chases and car crashes, people chases and people crashes.
In other words, get ready to finally have some fun at the movies this summer.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice starts in antiquity with King Arthur’s Merlin and his magician apprentices in a special-effect duel to the death. Arthur’s half-sister Morgana kills Merlin, who in his death throes gives his ring to Balthazar. He is told to find the heir to Merlin’s awesome powers.
It takes 1,400 years.
It's New York City and the year is 2000. The sorcerer finally pulls the proverbial rabbit out of the hat. A love-struck 10-year old Dave stumbles into Balthazar’s magic shop. Merlin’s magic ring recognizes him. In the melee to follow, Dave accidentally frees hated enemy — Horvath.
He wants to free Morgana. To stop him, Balthazar imprisons both of them in an ancient urn for 10-years.
From the jar we flash-forward to 2010. Dave is a total geek and so not ready for the job. Horvath is out and up to dastardly wizardry deeds. In magic movies, that always means destroying the world. Balthazar and Dave have to stop him. But he needs some instant and intense training.
It’s a bit more complex than that, but you get the gist. Call it Harry Potter-light, complete with a no-doubt-soon-to-be-produced sequel.
Nicolas Cage dons a nice-looking long-hair wig and bags the over-amped intensity that has more or less derailed his career. For once, Cage seems to have a good time in a role. He plays Balthazar.
Jay Baruchel of She’s Out of My League does Dave. He’s perfectly unsure and believably awkward at every stage.
Alfred Molina’s hammy Horvath is — well — magic.
The five writers — usually that’s not good — and director Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) have fun with this material. With a wave of the hand, characters conjure stuff out of thin air, move objects and sizzle with lightning. You know, normal movie magic stuff. They also produce an enchanting, accurate and live version of Mickey Mouse’s legendary mop scene from Fantasia.
It’s just one laugh in a film full of them.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 1/2 stars
Rated PG for mature themes. It opened Wednesday, July 14 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.