Watch out - SPOILERS! (Although anyone with half a brain could predict the outcome of this movie anyway, but just in case don’t say I didn’t warn you).
Ever wondered what would happen if Harry Potter met The Brothers Grimm? Probably not. But if now you want an answer to that question then go and see Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Every time I watch another movie from Disney these days I wonder where the hell are all those good screenwriters that used to make such beautiful stories?! I mean is it all only about the money, don’t they care to make good movies anymore?
Don’t get me wrong, the idea was there. It just reminded me of the time when I was watching Transformers II Revenge of the Fallen and got lost in all the subplots of it. Here it was similar. They could have just made the movie about a Sorcerer and his Apprentice. But no, they had to add a few old enemies, one powerful one, a girl or in fact two girls, one for each of our heroes, plus the difficult relationship between the main characters and all that wrapped in a 1000 year old legend of Merlin.
At the beginning we learn some history. Centuries ago Merlin, the most powerful of Sorcerers had three apprentices Balthazar (Nicolas Cage), Horvath (Alfred Molina) and Veronica (Monica Bellucci). But when Veronica chooses Balthazar over Horvath, the latter betrays them and Merlin to their greatest enemy Morgana (Alice Krige). Together with Morgana they kill Merlin and when they try to kill Balthazar as well, Veronica performs a spell that binds Morgana’s soul into her own body. Obviously Morgana starts to possess Veronica, so to save her Balthazar closes them in a doll called Grimhold. With his dying breath Merlin gives Balthazar his dragon ring and sends him on a quest to find the Prime Merlinian, a boy who would possess the same strength in him to use magic without using the ring like other sorcerers do, and would be they only one capable of killing Morgana. Balthazar’s shown looking all over the world, showing the ring to countless boys, but never succeeding. In the meantime he traps more and more bad magicians in the Grimhold which always adds another layer to the doll. The last one being Horvath himself. Then in the year 2000 we meet 10-year old Dave (Jay Baruchel) who trying to get a girl of his dreams Becky ( Teresa Palmer) coincidentally enters an antique shop that now belongs to Balthazar. Obviously the dragon ring fixes itself on his finger and Balthazar’s quest ends. Unfortunately being clumsy Dave manages to open one layer of the Grimhold and release Horvath. Balthazar and Horvath battle and in the end they both get sucked into a Chinese Urn that if opened keeps anyone prisoner for 10 years. And that’s where the movie properly starts. Dave is twenty, and studying at the NYU. He is a great physicist and your typical geek when he meets Becky again. Sparks fly but only on his part. In the meantime the urn lets Bathazar and Horvath go, and they both go looking for Dave. Horvath gets there first and Balthazar saves the boy’s life. Then he tells him the story about the Prime Merlinian and they go off looking for the Grimhold that Dave lost 10 years earlier. They do, but so does their enemy and their fight for the doll starts all throughout the movie while Dave learns (or tries to learn) the Arcana of Magic from Balthazar. He is also trying to get Becky. And so we go through all Dave’s ups and downs. He tries to quit being the apprentice, tries to throw his ring away, but always keeps coming back. In the end it all comes down to a very predictable battle and the “they all lived happily ever after” as expected from Disney.
If after reading the plot you still ask why I think the movie wasn’t exactly good, let me explain in more detail.
First of all the dialogues weren’t great. They explain everything, almost spelling it out as if they movie was directed only at 8-year olds. Sure, it was funny as always when Nic Cage is around. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it at times. But the only time when I laughed out loud was during pre-movie trailers for Despicable Me. So that’s not a good sign especially that when it comes to humour I am really easily pleased. I don't go to the movies always expecting high flying jokes or the great one-liners or quick dialogues we get from directors like Guy Ritchie. On the contrary, I can find my inner Peter Pan and find laughter everywhere.
The actors were just ok. I didn’t find them particularly boring, but neither were they especially convincing. Somehow Jay Baruchel even though he looks and talks like a geek didn’t quite suit the role of Dave. And the bad guy Alfred Molina seemed anything but bad. I just couldn’t get the evil vibe. I only really wished Monica Bellucci was onscreen more than just during the first and the final battle, because not only did she look beautiful but managed to play Veronica with nothing but the expressions she made ( I don’t remember her saying as much as a few words).
The visulas of the movie were really stunning though. And I was amazed at all the details with which the props and costumes and magical artifacts were made. The CGI was really well done too. When something was happening onscreen, the action was fast-paced and well thought-out. With Cage and Molina casting spells left, right and center. There were dragons, iron eagles, lightning bolts, old cars, new cars (great advertising for Ferrari and Mercedes btw) a lot of fire and energy-balls and all somewhat explained by physics. Like I said before – the idea was there. It was just too packed for one movie. If it had been a book I am sure I would have enjoyed it much, much more.
Also the music composed by Trevor Rabin was fun to listen to, always reflecting the mood and adding speed to the action when needed. But then again he never disappoints me.
So to sum up, the movie wasn’t bad, but like Sherlock Holmes said:” My mind rebels at stagnation!” Well so does mine, and unfortunately I didn’t have to use it for the entire 111 minutes. Nothing was really surprising and that is why I’m marking it as average and giving it the overall rating of 5/10.
On your good day you will probably enjoy it, on your bad day you might fall asleep watching it. If you’re really into fantasy and completely mindless entertainment go ahead though. I don’t think I could watch it again, but might buy the DVD because the snaps from it will be worth it.