The Sorcerer’s Apprentice : Cage Is A Wizard ! [Mike’s Review]
Today on Cage Club we search far and wide for the Prime Merlinian in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This movie is extremely loosely based on two things; first the Fantasia sequence of the same name, which was itself inspired by the German Poem “Der Zauberlehrling” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe written in 1797, and “L’apprenti Sorrier” a symphonic poem by the French composer Paul Dukas. That is where the story and music of the Fantasia Sequence originates.
The second source this movie seems to draw from is the novel “The Once and Future King” although again, very loosely. It uses characters like Merlin and Morgana Le Fey, plus the premise of training a successor, but doesn’t take full advantage of the book’s themes and scenes. What makes it even more strange to me is that Disney did make part of the novel once as an animated movie called “The Sword in the Stone”, so I would have thought they could have developed that material into a franchise of it’s own, but they seemed dead set on forcing Fantasia in here instead.
What we get out of it all is a mess with great special effects, baffling plot developments and some nice acting by Alfred Molina and of course, Nicolas Cage. Cage as the magician Balthazar Blake, Merlin’s last surviving apprentice, is a delight and almost single handedly makes this movie watchable thru to the end. The rest of what’s going on just plays like a series of wasted opportunities with one or two genuine action packed sequences that show what the fun could have amounted to if they just had more focus.
The movie starts and we learn that Cage is playing one of 3 apprentices to the legendary Wizard, Merlin. They are hunting the evil Morgana who wants to command an army of the dead and overtake the world. One of Merlin’s apprentices named Horvath turns traitor and helps defeat Merlin, but Veronica, the 3rd apprentice, traps Morgana’s soul in herself then traps them both in the “Grimhold” a Russian doll prison. Cage carries her thru the ages with him as he searches for the Prime Merlinian, basically the second coming of Merlin, or “the one”.
Many years later Balthazar runs into Dave, an astrophysicist that is a complete dork, but does turn out to be “the one”. Merlin’s ring even attaches itself to him, but Dave doesn’t want anything to do with the wizard life and tries to deny his destiny. Horvath gets loose again and makes things tricky as he’s trying to free Morgang from the Grimhold and perform “The Rising”, or the raising of the army of the dead. They get pretty close to doing it too but at the last moment, Dave embraces his destiny and trusts in Balthazar’s training to become the Prime Merlinian.
The movie was kinda all over the place and never really settled down long enough to really grab hold of anything for me. I liked all the magic stuff and the general idea of “magic is real” and even the lineage of Merlin, but the movie is more interested in telling the love story between Dave and the girl he likes. It is content with turning scenes into skits and set pieces into punchlines. It throws everything to the wall and hopes what sticks is enough to entertain for almost two hours. While Cage and Molina are great, as well as some of the other supporting actors, the role of Dave portrayed by Jay Baruchel, almost ruins the whole picture. It’s not exactly the actor’s fault, more likely the writer and director, but the role is key and the rest of the movie kinda hinges on that character and to me it’s the worst element of the movie.
On top of all that they squeeze in a lazy tribute scene to the sequence in Fantasia that started it all with the dancing brooms that get out of control. This mite around I have no reaction and it just feels almost embarrassing to watch. To me there is definitely no soul in that homage and yet it was probably one of the main reason for making the movie in the first place.
That will do it for Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Nice try, but in the end, all the Cage in the world couldn’t really make this cohesive and successful. Even though is has some nice moments, in the end it’s not enough to redeem the entire picture.
Next up on Cage Club we take one of our famous detours that have become rather common here at the club when we take a look at another documentary, this time its a look at one of the most prolific men in literature that almost single handedly create MARVEL comics and most of the beloved characters we know today. Nic Cage takes some time out to appear in the documentary With Great Power : The Stan Lee Story here next time on Cage Club !!!