Before I get on with the review, there’s something I have to ask. For three-quarters of the The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, I kept trying to place who Jay Baruchel sounded like in the film (there wasn’t much else to pay attention to, really). The affectation and the voice had a very distinctive and familiar ring to me, and it wasn’t until the movie was nearly over that I finally placed it. Jay Baruchel sounds like a nebbish Christian Slater, the early years (that is to say, a nebbish diluted Jack Nicholson, twice removed). Listen to this interview, and please don’t tell me I’ve gone insane. I think it’s most similar around the 45-second mark.
As for the movie itself, it’s a bore. But it’s a bore with some occasionally decent special effects, if you’re into gratuitous plasma balls and Tesla coils. Otherwise, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is the sort of movie you’re actually thankful to see Nic Cage in because he offers the dimmest hope that a little freak-out meltdown crazy might break the tedium. I’ll crush your hopes in advance: It doesn’t. Cage is freak-out free in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. And as if to prolong the agony of the film, Cage is the only actor that doesn’t chew through scenery like a bat out of Wicker Man hell, which is a shame because Cage is best when he’s Loony-Tunes ham-hocked.
In The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, which is based (tenuously) on a Mickey Mouse Fantasia short, Cage is the straight man, the mentor to Jay Baruchel’s apprentice. Back in 770 A.D., Merlin (yes, that Merlin) was mentor to three people: Balthazar (Cage), Veronica (Monica Belluci), and Horvath (Alfred Molina, who wastes no ham). The three were best friends for centuries, kicking evil sorcerer ass, before Balthazar and Veronica developed a romantic affection for one another. Horvath, feeling all third wheel, thus decided to join the evil Morgana (Alice Krige) in an effort to take over the world. Morgana succeeded in killing Merlin, but Veronica — through some wicked sorcery — absorbed Morgana into her own body, and to save Morgana from killing Veronica from the inside, Balthazar sealed the love of his life, along with Morgana, in a nesting egg, along with Horvath. (Yes, it is that stupid.) Merlin, with his dying words, then predicted that the only person who would be able to kill Morgana permanently would be the Prime Merlinian.
This all takes place in the first five minutes of the film.
Cut to 1,300 years later, and Balthazar is running an antiques shop, waiting around for the Prime Merlinian. He shows up in the form of a 10-year-old Dave Stutler, who was chasing a love note from schoolgirl Becky into the shop. Balthazar asks him to try on Merlin’s ring; it fits him. Dave then proceeds to inadvertently release Horvath and then accidentally lock both Horvath and Balthazar in a giant urn them keeps them imprisoned for ten years, or long enough for Dave to grow into Jay Baruchel.
And we’re still only ten minutes into the film.
Exposition disposed of, the meat of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice picks up in modern day New York City, after Balthazar and Horvath are released. Balthazar trains Dave to become the next Merlin, while Horvath tries to kill him. And both Balthazar and Horvath are after the nesting egg; Horvath so he can release Morgana and rule the world, and Balthazar so he can keep Morgana bottled up. Dave, meanwhile, is still attempting to get his nerd-freak on with Becky (Terese Palmer) while keeping secret that he’s set to be the next motherfucking Merlin.
From there, the movie unfolds in a predicable manner. Indeed, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is about what you’d expect from the team — Jerry Bruckheimer, Jon Turtlelaub, Nic Cage — behind the National Treasure movies. Brightly lit, conservative, pre-teen fare without about as much bite as your grandmother when she’s not wearing her dentures. They do make use of the source material in a goofy, near worthless sequence in which Dave is trying to clean up while mops molest him before Becky arrives, but it otherwise has little connection to the Mickey Mouse short. Meanwhile, Molina is at his over-acting worst; Belluci is completely wasted; and Baruchel mindlessly goes through the nerdy hero motions, as he whizzes around plasma balls in the midst of stammers.
Nic Cage, believe it or not, is the only one that keeps The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from being completely unwatchable, but only just so. It has considerably less to do with this acting and his character, however, than it does in his laughable wardrobe and choice of hairstyle.
Do the Fug Girls review film wardrobes?