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Sunday, July 18, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE

     How could CHERNOBOG'S LAIR ignore a film based on a segment from Disney's Fantasia? Without Fantasia , there would be no "Night on Bald Mountain" and no Chernabog! From the director and producers of National Treasure (also starring Nicholas Cage) comes a movie based on The Sorcerer's Apprentice, a 10-minute sequence from Walt Disney's "Fantasia" (1940), for those who DON'T KNOW, an animated concert film that revolutionized feature animation. Although the original story of the Sorcerer's Apprentice is significantly changed for the movie's plot, "Sorcerer's Apprentice" is a fun and exciting film with a surprisingly heavy scientific and magical theme including impressive magical special effects and a decent story for a PG rated family movie. "Sorcerer's Apprentice" stars Nicholas Cage as Balthazar Blake, one of three apprentices to the legendary wizard Merlin. When another of Merlin's apprentices, Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina) betrays him and allies with the evil Morgana (Alice Krige). Balthazar manages to trap both Horvath and Morgana in a magical nesting doll; but not before Veronica (Monica Bellucci), another apprentice and Balthazar's lover is also trapped. For the next 1000 years the immortal Balthazar searches for a way to free Veronica and to try to find the Prime Merlinian, Merlin's magical successor. After centuries of searching he finally finds him in the most unlikely of persons, Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel), a very-geeky physics major who's been experimenting with Tesla coils. Balthazar takes it upon himself to train Dave to be a sorcerer. While Dave becomes distracted by his childhood sweetheart Becky (Teresa Palmer), Horvath (now free from an antique Chinese urn) seeks to free Morgana and other evil sorcerers from the nesting doll and destroy the world!
    Although this Sorcerer's Apprentice doesn't feature Mickey Mouse in a pointy hat, it does pay homage to the classic scene of the enchanted brooms. Dave tries to clean up his secluded laboratory and misuses his newly found magical powers, enchanting a whole closet of brooms and mops which backfires. As with other Disney inspired movies such as the Pirates of the Caribbean series, "Apprentice" has almost nothing to do with the original source material, be it ride or movie. However, there is a  homage to the original Sorcerer's Apprentice in a special scene after the end credits. (I won't spoil it!) Although the movie was fun and entertaining, the story does become  convoluted with too many extra characters and a bizarre plot. Nicholas Cage pulls off the character of Balthazar with humorous eccentricity although still retaining his very dull personality. The young star of the movie, Jay Baruchel, has proven himself as an up and coming star with his characters in such comedies as Fanboys (2008) and Tropic Thunder (2008), and fresh from his first starring role with this years She's Out Of My League. While he successfully pulls off the innocent and extremely awkward "nerdiness" well, his overly bumbling and goofy character in Sorcerer's Apprentice is almost too overdone bordering on annoying and even excessive. An hour and a half of his whiny/nasally voice becomes almost unbearable! Despite Jay's nerdy foibles "Sorcerer's Apprentice" is a fun movie but sadly fails to compare with the success of Pirates or National Treasure chocking up another Disney financial flop this year like Prince of Persia. Although I have to admit that I enjoyed both Prince of Persia and Sorcerer's Apprentice, I feel that both of the films suffer both critically and financially with having to "measure up" to Disney $100 million blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean or Alice in Wonderland(coincidently both starring Johnny Depp). Although I'm sure movie going audiences (and myself) can't get enough of Johnny Depp, I wonder how the movie would have done with Depp as Balthazar and who knows, maybe one of the "Twilight" teens as Dave? (yeah right!)