If you know that this film comes from the team that gave you National Treasure, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect: a larger-than-life action yarn with special effects and a sense of humor. It isn’t my favorite kind of entertainment, but there’s a good reason Jerry Bruckheimer is successful: he (mostly) makes movies people pay money to see. Director Jon Turteltaub and a team of writers are clearly in sync with the producer’s m.o.
Jay Baruchel plays the science-nerd hero of the story, who’s had an unrequited crush on a cute blond girl since he was 10 (as we learn in a prologue). That’s when he first encountered a sorcerer, played by Nicolas Cage. Ten years later, the events foretold—
—in that first encounter come to fruition: Baruchel is a “chosen one” among sorcerers and he must learn his trade, in order to fend off an impending crisis.
The most novel aspect of the movie is that it takes place in Manhattan, and makes entertaining and unexpected use of the City, from Wall Street to the ledge of the Chrysler Building. The story follows a somewhat predictable but serviceable formula, the actors do their jobs (including the always-welcome Alfred Molina as Cage’s extended-lifelong rival), and the special effects are spectacular.
Frankly, the film made me forget about its source—the immortal segment in Walt Disney’s Fantasia featuring Mickey Mouse—until a scene specifically alluded to it. I found it unnecessary and uninspired, but kids will get a kick out of it. No one among the Disney fan community need worry that this movie will supersede Fantasia or erase its memory.
All in all, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is pretty good. Unlike some mass-audience summer fodder, it delivers exactly what it promises.