Before I say anything, I don’t mean to disrespect Jay Baruchel. I don’t know him or if he really is a nerd, but his roles tend to lead that way. With that said, bravo, you big geek. Whatever he or is agent is doing to land him these roles, he is giving hope to nerds around the world. It’s also interesting that he’s constantly opposite a hot Australian girl and gets to make out with her at some point. First, it was Alice Eve in “She’s Out of my League” and then Teresa Palmer in this film. I don’t know if he is blackmailing the Australian government or if he is some kind of Aussie national hero, but he’s my hero right now.
Besides getting a little taste of the Outback, Baruchel plays Dave, a physics student who turns out to be the heir of Merlin. Yes, THAT Merlin. He is discovered by Balthazar (Nicolas Cage) who has been searching for the heir while keeping a host of evil wizards trapped in a Russian stacking doll. When young Dave accidentally releases one of the wizards from the doll, all hell breaks loose for the rest of the film. The wizard, Maxim (Alfred Molina), is bent on releasing the rest of the wizards, specifically Morgana, who is the worst of them all. Naturally, she is in the last of the doll of the stack, so we get to experience the other wizards prior to her return. Unfortunately, we don’t get to experience these wizards for long, as each is taken out roughly thirty-four seconds after they are released, with the exception of Maxim. These characters are extremely one-dimensional, including Morgana and Balthazar’s love, Veronica (Monica Bellucci).
Okay, so Veronica isn’t evil, but she is trapped in the final doll with Morgana, due to a spell she cast to help Balthazar defeat her centuries earlier. We know this, thanks to the completely pointless opening scene that shows the four wizards duking it out. I say pointless because Balthazar ends up telling the entire story to Jay…because, of course, Jay didn’t get to see the beginning of the movie. Whoever was responsible for this scene obviously did not read the rest of the screenplay or maybe they’re just that stupid. Or maybe that’s how stupid they think the audience is. Either way, it accomplished nothing more than filler for a movie that needed no such thing. After all, with Jerry Bruckheimer producing and Jon Turteltaub directing, this film could be nothing more than one-dimensional characters, a simple plot, and lots of explosions and action.
Keep in mind, I’m not complaining about any of this. I knew what I was getting into and I wasn’t disappointed. “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” does not try to be anything more than a typical summer blockbuster. That’s why there is no real character development or complexity in the plot. It’s also a Disney film, so it’s toned down even further to make sure the kids can follow. In fact, the only clever thing the movie tries to do is pay a little homage to some other films while also trying blow out your eardrums. There is one to “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which is subtle, one to “Star Wars,” which is not subtle, and one to “Fantasia,” which can hardly be called an homage, but rather a live-action remake. If you know anything about “Fantasia,” it will be the part where Mickey Mouse is using magic to make brooms and mops do his cleaning for him. That part of “Fantasia” is called (what else?) “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” While this scene is fun for us, it does absolutely nothing to advance the story. Like the opening scene, it’s just filler for the sake of special effects.
In the end, you won’t be disappointed in this film unless you hate Disney…or Nicolas Cage. The film doesn’t force you to think and entertains you as any other Bruckheimer film would. The only thing left to figure out is how to get Baruchel to share that Bloomin’ Onion.
Rating: Don’t ask for any of you money back. You got exactly what you paid for.