Another slick, overblown Jerry Bruckheimer production
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
is impressive-looking entertainment, filled with the kind of large-scale action and special effects you expect from Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer (
Pirates of the Caribbean, Prince of Persia
). It also features a fanciful story, humour and solid performances, but for all the good parts it somehow remains a surprisingly charmless and detached experience.
It's hard to shake the thought that this story is just a collection of ideas from films that have already proved popular with the kids - especially as the role of the apprentice was first played by one Mickey Mouse in the 1940 Disney classic
When young college student Dave (Baruchel), our reluctant hero, discovers he has magical powers that he must master in order to save the world, it's impossible not to make the comparison with the
There's also the mentoring aspect of the story, which also has an air of familiarity about it. Immortal sorcerer Balthazar Blake (Cage) has spent centuries searching for Dave, who is the only sorcerer with the power to stop the evil Morgana (Alice Krige) and her assistant Maxim Horvath (Molina) from raising the dead and taking over the world. It's Balthazar's job to teach Dave everything he needs to know about magic - and himself - for his impending battle against the dark forces in downtown Manhattan.
Comedian Jay Baruchel plays the socially awkward and unexpected hero well, but this film is so predictable and so geared up to provide a satisfying ending that there's no incentive to get in behind his character, or any of the others for that matter.
We simply know Dave is going to gain confidence, look subtly cooler as the film goes on, find a way to save the day, and that his smarts and nice guy personality will overcome his lack of sex appeal when it comes to getting the girl (Teresa Palmer).
While an emotional connection to these characters might be missing, at least Bruckheimer and director Turteltaub (who worked together on National Treasure) can be relied on for plenty of far-fetched fantasy, car chases and glorious shots of New York.
It's not a memorable magic act, but a fun one, and should appeal to those teenagers who think they're now too cool for Hogwarts.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice cast:
Alfred Molina, Jay Baruchel, Monica Bellucci, Nicolas Cage
PG, frightening fantasy scenes and violence