DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
SORCERER'S APPRENTICE, THE (director: Jon Turteltaub; screenwriters: Matt Lopez/Doug Miro/Carlo Bernard/story by Larry Konner, Mark Rosenthal and Matt Lopez; cinematographer: Bojan Bazelli; editor: William Goldenberg; music: Trevor Rabin; cast: Nicolas Cage (Balthazar Blake), Jay Baruchel (Dave Stutler), Jake Cherry (Young Dave), Alfred Molina (Maxim Horvath), Teresa Palmer (Becky), Peyton Roi List (Young Becky), Toby Kebbell (Drake Stone), Alice Krige (Morgana), James A. Stephens (Merlin), Monica Bellucci (Veronica), Omar Benson Miller (Bennet, Dave's roommate); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Jerry Bruckheimer; Walt Disney Pictures; 2010)

 
"It's a producer Jerry Bruckheimer picture, so did you think for even a NYC sec it would be good? "

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

A romantic/comedy about a nerd and two all-powerful dueling rival wizards from ancient times, that's filled with wall-to-wall cheesy CGI special effects, is totally uninspired and offers a crass magic show that this bottom-line only commercial pic cheapens even further by reducing magic to its most banal level. It's a producer Jerry Bruckheimer picture, so did you think for even a NYC sec it would be good? The story is by Larry Konner, Mark Rosenthal and Matt Lopez, while the screenplay is by Lopez, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard. Director Jon Turteltaub ("National Treasure"/"Phenomenon"/"3 Ninjas") doesn't make much of the tale, telling it by the numbers, as he instead relies on Nicolas Cage and Alfred Molina to carry the pic with their subdued but hammy performances as battling sorcerers and the gaudy special effects is used in every scene to keep you glued to your seat in wonder at how schlocky it can be. By the half-way point my patience ran out, as the story was old hat (no Mickey Mouse pun intended!) and was too clumsily executed for me to give it more praise than saying it could have been worse.

Fourth-grader Dave (Jake Cherry) goes on a field trip with his class to NYC and, don't ask how (it's not worth it), winds up in a magic shop, where he meets the proprietor, an ancient wizard, Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage), who recognizes the dweeb as the Prime Merlinian (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), the one Merlin told him a thousand years ago is the only one who can save the world by defeating forever the evil sorceress Morgana (Alice Krige), someone who defeated the great Merlin because he was betrayed by two of his three apprentices. Morgana is aiming, if free, to convert the living to be part of her undead army of doom to destroy the world, but can't because the loyal apprentice Balthazar has trapped her in a Russian doll. Unfortunately the kid opened up the Grimhold (the Russian doll) where Balthazar stuffed the evil sorcerer Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina) and he escapes. You see, the doll was so valuable the good magician, for some reason, just leaves it out in the open shelves where anyone can open it! In any case, the other Russian doll has Morgana and the sexy Veronica (Monica Bellucci) stuffed inside, and has fallen into the possession of a Chinatown antique dealer until snatched from her and opened by Horvath.

The dweeb is not interested in magic, he only wants to lead a normal life and get a date with cute classmate Becky (Peyton Roi List), who rejected him after his embarrassing day on the field-trip. We pick up the story ten years later and Dave (Jay Baruchel) is a nerdy brilliant physics student at NYU, who busies himself studying Tesla coils in his unauthorized lab off campus and pining again for Becky (Teresa Palmer, Aussie actress), the dream girl who he never saw again after that field-trip, until now on campus as an enterprising coed. But also showing up are the good wizard Balthazar, who has laid on the kid the magical ring that gives him the power to battle against the evil wizards and has taken him on as his apprentice. The bad wizard Horvath and his evil assistant, the foppish illusionist, Drake Stone (Toby Kebbell), have a long series of magical duels and chases across the streets of Manhattan with the good wizard and his apprentice, and the kid also has a tepid romance with his dream girl. Also worked in to the story is a tribute to the famous Mickey Mouse segment in “Fantasia,”  about dancing brooms and mops, which did nothing for me because it didn't advance the plot and seemed awkwardly misused.

If you expect little from this summer blockbuster about a nerd saving the world from evil power-grabbers, you won't be disappointed and might even be rewarded with a watchable so-so mess of a film that's campy and, I suppose, dumb fun, if you are so inclined to suspend your belief on what goes for a good pic about wizards. To prevent the viewer from taking a snooze, the pic is loud and colorful and moves at a rapid pace from one magical special effect to another so that there's no time to wonder why there's no emotional impact, no character development, no originality, no wit or anything more to think about other than if the buttered popcorn you're munching on is tasty.

REVIEWED ON 7/14/2010       GRADE: C

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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