Jon Turteltaub likes Nicolas Cage. The director and star of both National Treasure movies makes a film geared more towards young adults that is a contemporary version of Harry Potter set in a modern city with this summer’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This star-studded movie with a younger audience in mind works well if you want an action-adventure flick that has Disney’s thumbprint of rated PG movies.
Balthazar Blake, played by Nicolas Cage, needs a student to pass on his limitless knowledge of magic. Who better than a teenager from New York City? He recruits Dave Butler played by Jay Baruchel (Almost Famous, How to Train Your Dragon) for the task of fighting evil. The sorcerer needs an apprentice and fast.
As he trains his new do-gooder, the baddies are onto Blake’s scheme and try to stop him by getting to Dave first. Amongst the villains are a very good cast of Alice Krige as Morgana, Alfred Molina as Horvath, and Gregory Woo as Sun-Lok. In typical good versus evil fashion, the hero must grow up to be a warrior which includes a lot of on-the-job training.
I like the great actors in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice but they don’t do themselves justice. Amongst the many rubber-stamped studio films with a hero’s journey tag attached to great effects and over-acting with cheesy lines, Disney has outdone themselves this time. Even the famous broom sweeping scene with Mickey Mouse is re-done with disastrous results.
The movie is good for audiences who want to get lost in another world for a little while. New York never looked better for a high school kid-turned magician in under two hours. You’d think in a good-versus-evil plot that the movie would turn out better. Unfortunately, even good movies with a huge story arc often need more time or better scripting to pull off a hero’s journey. That is the reason why Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter,X-Men and The Matrix all had more than one movie.
But what else can you do? It’s a contemporary story set in a real city with some great effects thrown in around the actors involved. We’ve seen all of this before and Disney should have at least been better in re-hashing a film such as this with the dynamite cast they had assembled.
This was a dream match-up that didn’t live up to expectations. Of all of the wonderful source material they could have derived a two-hour movie from, this bare palette left me wondering when the good stuff was coming. My son liked the Chinese villain with fiery eyes but that was about it.
I wish The Last Airbender had this cast because that movie would have turned out much better had the likes of Molina, Krige, and Monica Bellucci had been in the Shyamalan disaster . If Disney and Viacom had swapped casts and source material then both movies would have been made closer to each other’s standards. Disney is known for being able to get great actors for their big-budget films (see Pirates of the Caribbean). Viacom doesn’t know how to get good actors for its big-budget movies with wonderful source material (see Last Airbender). I’d love to see Alfred Molina as Uncle Iroh of Airbender.
Both of these films deserved to be treated better. Disney should have had a better script but perhaps it was just making a movie to fill the void for teenagers this summer. Way to go, mission accomplished, next project please.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is rated PG. It’s a good movie for the whole family with a lot of great actors and effects but little in the way of writing or plot.