Thursday Night Movie Club
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
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Release Date: 14 July 2010

Director: Jon Turteltaub
Nicolas Cage
Jay Baruchel
Alfred Molina
Teresa Palmer
Toby Kebbell
Omar Benson Miller
Monica Bellucci
Alice Krige
Jake Cherry
James A. Stephens
Gregory Woo
Drake Stone
Young Dave
The Sorcerer's Apprentice movie poster #1 The Sorcerer's Apprentice movie poster #2 The Sorcerer's Apprentice movie poster #3
Walt Disney Picures The Sorcerer's Apprentice is based upon one of the sequences from Disney's own animated classic Fantasia. In that film, Mickey Mouse is the Sorcerer's Apprentice. He is not willing to put in the time or effort to become a true wizard. He uses what little magic he knows to animate brooms to perform his assigned chores. Mickey falls asleep dreaming of being a great wizard who controls lightning, thunder, wind and tempests. In reality, the brooms are running amok.

Nicholas Cage and Jake Cherry in The Sorcerer's ApprenticeThe feature film The Sorcerer's Apprentice begins in the Middle Ages. Master Wizard Merlin has trained three apprentices: Balthazar (Cage), Horvath (Molina) and Veronica (Bellucci). They are sworn to protect the secret of sorcery. Horvath betrays them all to Merlin's arch-nemesis Morgana (Krige). During the ensuing battle, Merlin is slain. Morgana has stolen a spell to awaken the dead and control them. At the end of the struggle, Horvath has escaped with the spell. Morgana and Veronica are imprisoned in a Grimhold, a nesting doll.

The only hope lies in a metal dragon that Merlin has given to Balthazar. The dragon will help him find The Prime Merlinian. This person only will have the power to truly destroy Morgana. Balthazar spends an eternity, almost an eternity, searching for The Prime Merlinian.

In the year 2000, a young boy named Dave is on a class field trip. He has a crush on a Becky. He writes a note and secretly gives it to her. The note contains a question: Will you be my friend or my girlfriend. Becky writes her answer on the note and leaves it for Dave to find.

Nicholas Cage and Jake Cherry in The Sorcerer's ApprenticeFate has a mysterious way of rearing its head at the least opportune moment. Before Dave can read Becky's answer, the note flies away and ends up inside an antique store run by none other than Balthazar still looking the same as he did in the 700s. Balthazar asks Dave to hold the metal dragon Merlin gave him centuries earlier. The dragon immediately responds and wraps around Dave's finger becoming a ring.

Before you can say Tyconderoga, Horvath materializes and battles Balthazar for the Grimhold. Balthazar entrusts the Grimhold to Dave for safekeeping before trapping Horvath and himself in an urn where they will be imprisoned for the next ten years. Of course, none of Dave's friends believe the story he tells them. He will never live down the shame. In disgust, Dave throws away the Grimhold.

In present day 2010, Dave is now a physics genius conducting experiments on elecro-magnetism. Balthazar and Horvath are released from the confines of the urn. They both go on the hunt searching for Dave and the Grimhold. Dave barely escapes an attack by Horvath who sics a pack of wolves on him. Balthazar swoops down on an eagle statue he animated using sorcery. He tells Dave that he had better begin to learn sorcery.

Nicholas Cage and Jake Cherry in The Sorcerer's ApprenticeDave reluctantly agrees. His lessons come slowly. He becomes disenchanted at his lack of mastering even simple spells. He has also become reacquainted with Becky. He is still in love with her and wants to rekindle their relationship. Balthazar warns him against romantic entanglements as Love is nothing more than a distraction.

Balthazar is quite wrong. This is the reason why Morgana has not been defeated. It is the reason why Balthazar is searching for The Prime Meridian, for only he can take sorcery to the next level with Love at his side. In the end, Balthazar learns from his young apprentice that Love Conquers All!

The Sorcerer's Apprentice is populated with an all-star cast, headed by an all-star production company and has an excellent idea to start from. The end result is a disappointment. This is not a bad film. It is also not a great film. It is enjoyable none-the-less.

Alfred Molina in The Sorcerer's ApprenticeAlfred Molina is very good as the villain Horvath. He is an imposing, ruthless figure. Alice Krige, after her turn as the evil Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact, is also quite menacing in an evil seductress fashion. Nicholas Cage is OK as Balthazar. His problem is in his dialog that never gives him a chance to really chew on his words and add a dose of double-edged one-liners. His lines aren't quirky enough to match his talents.

The main problem with the acting comes from Jay Baruchel and Teresa Palmer. Despite all of the electricity in the air from Dave's experiments and all the spells flying around, there is not spark between the two actors. They go through the motions of being in love but do not work well together to convince the audience that their characters are in love.

The special effects also come off as not quite spectacular. In some sequences, the effects look a bit cheesy. When Balthazar animates the statue of the eagle bringing it to life in order to save Dave, the bird doesn't quite look right. There is something in the time and effort the great Ray Haryhausen put into his creations using stop-motion animation and mechanical armatures. Computer graphics still need a personal touch to be truly amazing. It comes as a big surprise that an animation studio of Disney's caliber and pedigree fails at creating animation.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice is enjoyable. The film falls short of the bar Disney set so high during the heyday of cel animation. Special effects alone do not a good movie make (see Star Wars Episodes 1, 2, and 3). A good movie needs a great script for the actors to work with while the effects should blend seamlessly with the acting. The Sorcerer's Apprentice falls short.