The Sorceror’s Apprentice – Movie Review

Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage) is a master sorcerer in modern-day Manhattan trying to defend the city from his arch-nemesis, Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina). Balthazar can’t do it alone, so he recruits Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel), a seemingly average guy who demonstrates hidden potential, as his reluctant protégé. The sorcerer gives his unwilling accomplice a crash course in the art and science of magic, and together, these unlikely partners pit their powers against those of the fiercest—and most ruthless—villains of all time. It’ll take all the courage Dave can muster to survive his training, save the city and get the girl as he becomes “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”

Remember me gushing about the trailer a few weeks ago? Well, when The Nuge asked me if I wanted to go and see The Sorceror’s Apprentice I clapped like a seal and made inarticulate noises of joy. Honestly, I had no idea why I was so excited to go and see this movie. I am not the world’s biggest Nick Cage fan and I have seen Jay Baruchel in maybe one other thing in the past so it had to be something else that drew me to this flick. I think what really excited me was the idea of seeing sorcery on the big screen, done by Disney. With live action people and not in animated sequences, that is – and I know it’s CGI, I’ve not quite lost my mind! The only movie that I recall this being done in to any great effect had been in The Covenant and even then it was okayish and nothing to make you go: dude, I totally want to rock and be a sorceror. But I digress, onto the review.

** mild spoilers **

When we first meet young Dave he’s maybe eleven years old or so. He’s on a daytrip into New York with his class. So far, so mundane. It is only once they get off the bus and he decides to write a note to the one girl and pass it to her, that things start to get interesting. She reads the note, scribbles something back and in the job of handing it back to him, the wind scoops it up and it goes helter-skeltering through the air, across a few roads and gets stuck on the door of this quirky little shop stuck between some modern buildings.

Dave follows the note, right into the weird shop with all its dust covered objects and bric-a-brac. He looks around a bit and unexpectedly the shopkeeper is there. With great care we are shown the differences between the boy and the shopkeeper. He looms over the smaller boy, his clothes different, eccentric, his eyes holding just that bit of crazy that makes young Dave worried. But then Dave explains what happened, how he followed a note here and the shopkeeper’s gaze grows more intent.

He hands Dave a tiny silver dragon. As the boy holds it in his hand, the silver dragon comes to life and curls around his finger. The shopkeeper introduces himself as Balthazar Blake, Sorceror. And that Dave is actually the Prime Merlinean, a very special person who Balthazar has been searching for, since the death of the actual Merlin, all those hundreds of years ago.

Horvath the Bad

A variety of things happen then which I won’t talk about here, but we are introduced to the bad Maxim Horvath and a sorcerous fight ensues between Horvath and Blake. Poor Dave is caught in the middle and eventually makes his escape.

We skip ahead by around ten years and Dave is now in university and he’s a physics and science geek. He’s had some counselling due to what he saw in the shop, the two sorcerors battling it out, as clearly what he saw was true (we know) but no one else believed him and so as the crazy kid, he got a bit ostracized by his classmates and he flung himself into his little experiments and discovered that he was really good at physics.

When Balthazar and Horvath enter his life again, forcing Dave to confront his destiny, thing go pearshaped. Dave has spent ten years trying to get rid of those memories of that night when he saw the face off between the two sorcerors. He does not need this in his life. Admittedly his life doesn’t have much apart from school, his one friend and room mate and his dedication to his subject, physics, but still, it’s a life. When Balthazar tells him that it’s no wonder he’s attracted to science because although illusion and magic are different, magic and science are the same thing, you could almost see things go click in Dave’s head. It made sense, it made it real.

I loved this concept – bringing the wow-factor a notch down, to make it more accessible for younger viewers, without actually dumbing it down. A lot of training happens but it’s shown to be over a short period of time, which made me grumble a bit as I would have liked Dave to have had a longer period in which he trained to become more adept in his role as apprentice and potential Prime Merlinean.

Between the training montages in which Dave is pretty dire as an apprentice, we are made aware of his burgeoning relationship with the very sweet-faced Becky Barnes (Teresa Palmer). He finds it hard juggling his life as the apprentice sorceror, his role as student and his interest in Teresa. But Balthazar forces him to commit more and more to his apprenticeship, impressing on him the importance of his role as the Prime Merlinean.

There is a fantastic sequences in which Dave is chased through China Town by a live dragon set on destroying him, whilst under the control of Sun Lok, one of the evil Morganian’s that Horvath is bent on releasing andwe get a taste of how genuinely dangerous life can be for all concerned. Horvath’s Big Evil Plan is to release Morgana who will then in turn wreak havoc on earth. You know, the usual Evil Overlord plan.

Sun Lok the Wizard

The Sorceror’s Apprentice is really great fun – there were no scenes where I felt deeply emotionally involved, where I welled up or sniffled loudly, but instead I felt myself laughing a lot and wishing that I had power to make steel bird contraptions fly or more importantly, send a magical dragon after an enemy. I think we all can relate to that.

If you’re in the mood for a matinée movie, this is the ticket. Fun, over the top, with cool visual effects and some really clever dialogue, I’d recommend The Sorceror’s Apprentice to someone who really just wants to sit back and be entertained.

PS: As for Nick Cage – you know what, as Balthazar Blake, he definitely has that something that made me swoon, just that little bit. I think it must be that hat. Yes, it’s definitely that hat.

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