The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: A Belated Review

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a 2010 Walt Disney release that is loosely based on a scene in Fantasia, where Mickey Mouse, as a sorcerer’s apprentice attempts to clean up the castle of his master with the use of magic. You might remember this scene as the one with the extensive orchestra scoring and cleaning tools in complete chaos. As it so happens, there is also a poem by Goethe in 1797, Der Zauberlehrling from which the Disney classic was based.

Anyway, the 2010 edition features big name superstars like Nicolas Cage (Balthazar), Monica Belluci (Veronica) and Alfred Molina (Hovax) as three of Merlin’s apprentices, to whom he taught his greatest secrets. Unfortunately, Horvax betrays his master and the wicked sorceress Morgana kills him. In order to prevent Morgana from performing a ritual called the Rising, where she stands to gain power over the deceased Morganians and take over the world, the remaining apprentices Balthazar and Veronica battle Morgana. In order to save Balthazar, Vernonica absorbs Morgana’s spirit into her own body so that Balthazar may trap her into an object called the grimhold (which looks like a Russian doll) until the Prime Merlinean, the only sorcerer strong enough to destroy Morgana once and for all, is found. Centuries later, Balthazar meets 10 year old Dave Stutler, an unlikely candidate for the job but one who was chosen by Merlin’s dragon ring as Merlin’s successor. But it would be another decade before Dave and his master are reunited to fight Horvax, Morgana and her army of dead Morganians to save the world.

The Sorcerer’s Apprenctice is the third time that director Jon Turtletaub has worked with Nicolas cage, whom he collaborated with on the National Treasure franchise. It’s no wonder that Cage was tapped for this role because he brought the character of Balthazar Blake — his loyalty to his master, his torment for his lost love, and his genuine affection for the 20 year old Dave (Jay Baruchel) — to life. Cage delivered his dialogue with ease and confidence that one does not doubt why he was chosen by the great Merlin to find the Prime Merlinean and be his mentor. Alfred Molina provides a great counterperformance to the Cage’s protagonist, delivering to the screen a sense of danger and at the same time an affinity to Balthazar borne out of years of friendship.

As always with a Disney presentation, the special effects and the scoring was flawless. The story was presented in a fashion that holds the audience’s attention for its 109-minute run. The only weakness I saw in the movie was the performance of Jay Baruchel, who is known for his nerdy and geeky roles in the past. It would seem that Baruchel simply took on a page from his book and went on nerd mode, unconcerned about how his performance would affect the dynamics of the movie. At times, the character got so annoyingly dense that audiences would get the urge to smack him in the back of the head just so he would try to listen to Balthazar and understand what is at stake. Most of the time, instead of helping, he becomes the dead weight that Balthazar had to carry with him throughout the mission. While he had his moment in the end, it was too late in the game as all sympathy I should have felt for him was already lost.

All in all, discounting my slight complaint, the movie was quite good. I was glad that I didn’t see it in the cinema though.