‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’: Cage conjures a time-killer

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Tuesday, July 13, 2010 11:38am
  • LifeGo-See-Do

The length and style of Nicolas Cage’s wigs have a lot to do with the nature of his films. In “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” he’s sporting a doozy.

Long, curly and unwashed, Cage wears the kind of hair only a master of the black arts could get away with. And sure enough, as the title tells us, Balthazar Blake is a sorcerer, whose exploits go back more than a thousand years.

Ever since the time of Merlin, Balthazar has been knocking around in search of a supremely gifted new sorcerer — a “Prime Merlinian” destined to help defeat the baddest of all wizards. These evil types have spent much of the last 1,000 years trapped in a nesting doll Balthazar has kept sealed.

Uh-huh. All right, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is going to be geared for younger audiences (not little kids), so a certain amount of nonsense is expected.

Moving on, we find young Dave Butler, played by Jay Baruchel. Not only does “Dave Butler” not sound like a sorcerer’s name (apologies to all Dave Butlers out there, but it’s no Morgan le Fay), he presents a scrawny, nerdy appearance to the world.

Will his newfound training in the conjuring biz get the attention of his dream girl (Teresa Palmer)? Will he embrace his destiny? Will his voice ever change, even though he’s already 20?

All these questions will be answered in a movie that coasts for much of its running time on the mentor-student training sequences that will be cheerfully familiar to “Harry Potter” devotees.

This being a Disney film, the action is tame, the jokes are goofy and there’s room for a giant metal eagle to fly off a New York skyscraper and ferry our heroes around.

The title should also summon up memories of “Fantasia,” and its classic sequence of the sorcerer’s apprentice (Mickey Mouse, in that case), losing control of his mops and buckets. Sure enough, this film builds in a sequence where Dave uses his still-wobbly powers to sweep up his laboratory (he’s a physics student), and the homage to “Fantasia” is completed.

Director Jon Turteltaub, who guided Cage in the silly-but-fun “National Treasure” pictures, keeps the attitude light, with few dead patches along the way. Cage looks as though he doesn’t take any of this seriously, which I’m not sure was the right approach — but he is playing a 1,000-year-old sorcerer, so what choice did he have?

Baruchel continues his string of animated, adenoidal lads (he was lately seen in “She’s Out of My League” and “Tropic Thunder”), and he is indeed a funny kid.

Alfred Molina and Toby Kebbell are the two evil wizards (the latter disguised in these modern times as a David Blaine-like celebrity magician), and Italian star Monica Bellucci lends her iconic beauty to a cameo part.

This movie’s a standard summer time-killer: It lands somewhere between the giddiness of “Kick-Ass” and the DOA boredom of “The Last Airbender.”

At least it doesn’t pretend to be in 3-D, for which we can all give thanks.

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (2 1/2 stars)

A summer time-killer with a 1,000-year-old sorcerer (Nicolas Cage) finding a gifted young wizard (Jay Baruchel) to wage battle with ancient baddies in modern New York. Geared for young audiences (not little kids), the movie has some attitude and some humor, and nobody seems to be taking it too seriously — both a plus and a minus, in this case.

Rated: PG for violence.

Showing: Alderwood Mall, Everett, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Meridian, Metro, Oak Tree, Woodinville, Cascade Mall.

Talk to us

More in Life

School meals, like this sloppy Joe, chocolate milk, pear and baby carrots, support kids and local farmers. (Jennifer Bardsley)
School lunch: Every child deserves to eat, so let’s feed them well

Breakfast and lunch are now free for all students in the Edmonds School District. Here’s what else we can do.

Kamiak alum and Harvard graduate, Michael Bervell on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021 in Mill Creek, Washington. Bervell's new book, "Unlocking Unicorns",  profiles 10 founders of billion-dollar companies in India, Africa and the Middle East. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Kamiak graduate profiles the ‘Unicorns’ of the business world

Michael Bervell’s new book features 10 entrepreneurs who created billion-dollar startup companies. What do they have in common? None of them are white Western men.

The Toyota Highlander XSE’s front fascia, grille, and lower spoiler are exclusive to this model. (Manufacturer photo)
Toyota Highlander gets a sport infusion from new XSE model

Suspension tuning upgrade, distinct styling and exclusive trim are among the midsize SUV’s revisions.

Why it’s important to respect each other’s COVID-19 choices

Stay up-to-date with state and local health department recommendations so that you can make informed decisions.

“Forgive, but never forget.”
The wish of Dachau survivors: Forgive, but never forget

A solemn pilgrimage to the Nazi concentration camp, a place where ultimate evil flourished.

Where’s traveler’s refund from Air France for canceled flight?

Air France canceled Jim Shea’s flight during the pandemic. But he’s been waiting a year for a refund. Where is it?

Here’s how you can attract birds, including sparrows, to your yard. (Mike Benbow)
The gardener’s playbook for attracting birds to your yard

If you want birds to visit, you’ll need to provide four basic elements: safety, nesting spots, food and water.

Book-related events in Snohomish County.
Author events and poetry readings around Snohomish County

The listings include Third Place Books, Everett Public Library and Neverending Bookshop events.

Don Sarver, left, and Kyle James, right, snowshoe on the Skyline Lake Trail on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019 in Leavenworth, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Don Sarver, left, and Kyle James, right, snowshoe on the Skyline Lake Trail on Jan. 26, 2019, in Leavenworth. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)
Outdoors classes and activities around Snohomish County

The listings include Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest updates and REI Lynnwood workshops.

Most Read