THE SORCEROR’S APPRENTICE. Starring Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Teresa Palmer, Alfred Molina and Monica Belucci. Directed by Jon Turtletaub. 109 minutes. Rated PG (fantasy violence and threatening scenes).
Older audiences (for whom this fantasy adventure from Arthurian times to the New York present is not intended) may well remember Fantasia and Mickey Mouse and the mops, brooms and buckets dancing relentlessly to Dukas’ music. In fact, the final credits acknowledge that this screenplay was inspired by that short film. And, entertainingly, there is a brief live-action, special effects re-creation of/homage to that Fantasia scene.
Magic in New York? Sorcerors in Manhattan? In these Harry Potter years, why not?
Actually, the film is a bit reminiscent of Harry Potter (and not just in the fact that Jay Baruchel as Dave, the apprentice in question looks like and describes himself as a ‘physics dork’). But, so busy has he been with his physics experiments that he has probably never heard of Harry Potter, let alone ready any of the books or seen any of the films. He may not have seen Night at the Museum which this film reminds us of in passing.
It all begins with Merlin and his three apprentices, Balthasar (Nicolas Cage), Veronica (Monica Bellucci) and Maxim (Alfred Molina) and the confrontation with Morgana le Fay (Alice Krige). One is a rogue apprentice (no prize for guessing which one). When the spirit of Morgana (ingested by Veronica to save Balthasar) is trapped in one of those dolls with layers of dolls, Balthasar begins his trek through the centuries to find ‘The Prime Merlinian’! Why are they always in the US and, specifically, now and in New York City? What was Merlin thinking in setting a line of prime merlians ending with Dave!
The reluctant Dave does go though his apprenticeship with Balthasar (though often with one or more eyes on the lookout for dream girl, Becki Barnes (Australian Teresa Palmer looking like Naomi Watts’ younger sister). Maxim turns up looking like a catalogue sketch (coat, tie and hat) in a turn of the century advertisement, but a sneering villain none the less.
Lots of action, car chases, flying on gargoyle eagles, clashes with magic powers and, of course, Morgana being released to face her judgment day at Dave’s hands (literally filled with magic).
So, some good holiday fun for younger audiences. (And, for those who wait until the end of the credits, a suggestion for a sequel).
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Released: September 9, 2010