Sorcerer’s Apprentice a magical romp.

The second offering from Disney this summer is The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, a live action film starring Nicholas Cage and Alfred Molina.  Students of the Disney film Fantasia will no doubt connect the segment with Mickey Mouse to this film, but it’s origins have roots in a lyric poem by Johann Wolfgang Goethe.  

Yeah, I never heard of it either.  But along with giving you my opinion of the movie, I feel it incumbent upon myself as a writer to educate as well as inform.  Whatever.

Anyway, the movie is directed by Jon Tureltaub, who directed Cage in the National Treasure movies and is produced my megaproducer Jerry Bruckheimer who is on a roll of sorts with Disney films beginning with the Pirates Of The Carribean trilogy and the aforementioned Treasure films.  The partnership with Nicholas Cage for the third time apparently grants him the privilege of executive producing the movie for whatever good that brings. 

Movies this late in the summer season need to have a different quality that the earlier blockbusters in the summer do, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice does it’s best to fulfill that.  The story is a classic one of good versus evil as Balthazar Blake, (Cage) is on a centuries-long quest to find the heir to Merlin’s power after he is betrayed by a fellow apprentice, Maxim Horvath, (Molina) and murdered by and evil sorceress called Morgana, played by Alice Krige.  Merlin dispatches Blake on his quest with his dying breath, and so begins a 1300 year journey from 700 A.D. to the year 2000, when he finds 10-year old Dave Stutler, who is given Merlin’s dragon ring as a boy and discovers that the ring accepts him as Merlin’s heir or "prime merlinian".

The bulk of the story takes place ten years after that when Dave (played by Jay Baruchel) is in college at NYU as a physics major and living the cloistered life of a techno-geek.  The past ten years have been filled with the memories of the day he got Merlin’s ring.  On that day he witnessed a fight between Blake and Horvath after Dave accidentally released Horvath from a banishment on a piece of pottery known as a Grimhold.  The resulting embarrassment from seemingly lying to his teacher about the fight and having the front of his trousers wet by a sprinkler set off by the flames generated by the two sorcerers in battle has haunted him for a decade.

The movie is a fantasy and it makes no mistake about that.  It alludes to the segment of Fantasia as I mentioned before and even imitates to comedic effect when the novice Dave tries a spell to get the mops and brooms in his lab to clean it up.  Some of the effects are a bit frightening for kids, although when I took my son to see this movie he didn’t seem to be too frightened.  

It has a few spots where it drags but for the most part it does it’s part as a good summer escape movie.  It’s not a heavy hitter as far as the larger blockbusters this year but considering the decided lack of big time movies it will do well.