Avid Disney fans — and even casual ones like myself — know that “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” was the Mickey Mouse segment of Disney’s 1940 film “Fantasia,” in which mage-in-training Mickey tries to use magic to get out of housework, to humorous results.
Hardly seems like the basis for a blockbuster summer movie, but then people said the same thing about “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
While it’s unlikely to draw the crowds that Captain Jack Sparrow did, the new “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is a fun little trifle. If you like Nicolas Cage, special effects and tales about unassuming young men who must fulfill awesome destinies, then this one’s for you.
Cage stars as Balthazar, one of three apprentices of the great Merlin (James A. Stephens). Due to the entanglements of a love triangle involving the other two apprentices — Veronica (Monica Bellucci) and Horvath (Alfred Molina) — Merlin is betrayed by Horvath and slain by his arch enemy, Morgana (Alice Krige).
Veronica sacrifices herself to keep Morgana contained and they both end up in a magic nesting doll. Before he dies, Merlin leaves Balthzar with a task of finding his heir, the only person who can permanently destroy Morgana.
Roughly 1,000 years later, Balthazar is still searching when a young boy wanders into his shop. The chosen one turns out to be a science geek named Dave (Jay Baruchel). Balthazar begins teaching his young, confused charge the ways of magic but time is of the essence because Horvath is making plans to free Morgana and bring about the end of the world as we know it.
“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” isn’t the big breakout summer hit we’ve been waiting for, but it’s loaded with nifty special effects and the cast is likable enough. Molina makes an especially dapper villain, Baruchel is fine as the fish-out-of-water hero and Cage is, well, Nicolas Cage. Love him or hate him, you know what to expect from him.
Did it work for me? The story’s tired and routine, but the cast and the flash made it worth my time.