Science fiction and fantasy
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
directed by Jon Turtletaub
Ten years later David (Jay Baruchel) is a physics student with a passion for the same pretty girl he liked when they were at school together. His original meeting with Balthazar has been explained away as some kind of hallucination, and David is all set to get on with his life. So he's not too happy to see Balthazar once again. But soon Balthazar and Maxim are at large again, and the whole epic struggle between them begins once more. Balthazar and David must track down the stolen artefact before Maxim releases Morgana. At the same time Balthazar is trying to tutor David in magic, although he's not the best of students. But David has to concentrate on his studies and master his powers so he can save the world from Morgana's evil schemes.
Once the scene is set the plot is extremely predictable. Alfred Molina plays a cartoon villain, the kind who can't help but double-cross all his allies and who tends to laugh manically at our heroes' misfortunes. Why exactly does he want to release Morgana, when he knows what she has in store for the world? He has his reasons, but they're not very good ones. And why exactly does Morgana want to raise an army of the dead and take over the world anyway? Because, fools, the army of reanimated cleaning tools has already been taken!
No, it doesn't make sense. The film is about as deep as a teaspoon, and typically Disney in its over-simplified, feelgood tone. However the relationship between Balthazar and David is lively, and their dialogue is fresh and interesting. Nicolas Cage is actually not spoon-your-eyes-out irritating as the quirky wizard Balthazar.
This movie is largely about the spectacle, and there are some very good effects. The giant Tesla coils are particularly effective. The film mixes magic and science in a way that reminds me of the Arthur C. Clarke quote, "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." The way Balthazar explains it to David also put me in mind of midi-chlorians, but perhaps that's just me.
It's the smart science lover who gets to be the cool wizard with special powers in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Yet the movie itself is actually quite lowbrow. With unsubtle villains, hectic car chases and fancy magical lightshows, it all amounts to a bit of sparkly, undemanding fun.
20th December 2010
If you like this, try:Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Chris Columbus
The Greek myths meet modern America in this adaptation of a novel by Rick Riordan.