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Genre: Fantasy/Action
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Monica Bellucci, Teresa Palmer, Alfred Molina, Toby Kebbell, Omar Benson Miller, James A. Stephens
RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins
Released By: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Rating: PG

Official Website: http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/sorcerersapprentice/

Opening Day: 22 July 2010


Walt Disney Studios, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Jon Turteltaub, the creators of the "National Treasure" franchise, present "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" -- an innovative and epic romantic comedy adventure about a sorcerer and his hapless apprentice who are swept into the center of an ancient conflict between good and evil.

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 work to stop the forces of darkness. 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."

Movie Review:

Walt Disney had director Jon Turteltaub and producer Jerry Bruckheimer combine to produce the National Treasure films, so I suppose it's quite no-brainer for them to conjure up another film with the hopes that it'll spark another franchise. And going by how it ends (yes, there's a teeny-weeny scene after the end credits with some easy to spot easter eggs), there's going to be room for more, although it's really up to the box office numbers to justify a sequel.

I will not deny that The Sorcerer's Apprentice had a wonderful trailer cut containing some of the best bits of the film ranging from action to comedy, though it cannot escape from its underlying tired, tried and tested formulaic story especially seen in many films in 2010. From Spring to Summer with Percy Jackson, Clash of the Titans and The Karate Kid even, amongst others, each one of these films involves a chosen one / son of someone larger than life / outcast who in a broad stroke of luck, get shown the ropes to glory by a seasoned mentor. This one is of course packaged differently, inspired by Mickey Mouse in Fantasia, with an iconic sequence directed lifted and referenced in this film.

And being self-referencial in its comedy is something done quite frequently here, though presented in wry fashion and being totally aware of itself, letting you know upfront rather than allowing you to guess, not that it's difficult. Casting Jay Baruchel as Dave the physics genius who whines his way through the film tussling with his realized status as saviour of the world with that of his ineptness to chase some skirts, just about continues his being typecast in a role that he can perform with his eyes closed.

Credit goes to the storytellers for finding an avenue to expand the tale of Merlin yet again, this time with the famed wizard (James A. Stephens) battling his arch enemy, the witch Morgana (Alice Krige), only to be betrayed by one of his three apprentices Horvath (Alfred Molina). The other two, Balthazar (Nicolas Cage) and Veronica (Monica Bellucci) do battle against Morgana and Horvath, only for Veronica's sacrifice to provide the upper hand for Balthazar to imprison them all into a magical jar that is a Russian doll knockoff called the Grimhold. You can't expect the villains to stay imprisoned for long (ok, so it's been hundreds of years at least), and Balthazar has to go on a quest by Merlin to look for the next big wizard to succeed him, known as the "Prime Merlinean", only for that chosen one to be the reluctant Dave.

Rather than waxing on and off or playing with his jacket, there's not much of a training montage here when the apprentice undergoes his training by the master sorcerer, instead it decided to focus on the romantic subplot between Dave and his infatuation Becky (Teresa Palmer), and that of the pining of Balthazar for Veronica, where love, as it seems, is nothing more than a distraction and an obstacle toward achieving magical greatness. While there's some focus between the mentor-apprentice relationship, what I found to be one step up for the baddies, will be the same between Horvath and Drake Stone (Toby Kebbell), the latter being that urban legend about how top magicians really dabble in black arts, and have that to thank for in their rise to stardom. In fact, amongst all the magicians on display here, Drake Stone easily steals the show each time he comes on as that cock-sure, arrogant Vegas type magician.

Action-wise, there's a good mix of CG with practical effects, and the big action sequences tend to skew toward having metallic creatures take to the screen, from giant eagles to mystical dragons (Jay Baruchel has a thing with them after the successful animated film How To Train Your Dragon) and even the Wall Street bull. Expect lots of bodies being thrown around given those nasty plasma bolts, done in a manner that will make that Dragonball movie, and those belonging to the same video game genre, cry in shame. The obligatory car chase scene does have a familiar ring to it with vehicle transformations not quite unlike those seen in Transformers, made a wee bit more interesting with its looking glass challenge.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice is your typical Hollywood summer blockbuster fare that commands a broad based appeal for those who prefer the same old formulaic treatment. It's the crowd pleaser with its less than cerebral tale of good versus evil, and if you're game for something more groundbreaking, then perhaps you should head toward Christopher Nolan's dreamworld of Inception instead.

Movie Rating:

(Conjured from the same old summer blockbuster formula)

Review Stefan Shih


. Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time (2010)

. Clash Of The Titans (2010)

. Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief (2010)

. National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2008)

. Enchanted (2007)

. Stardust (2007)

. Pirates of the Carribbean: At World's End

. Ghost Rider (2007)


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