DIR: Jon Turteltaub • WRI: Matt Lopez, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard • PRO: Jerry Bruckheimer • DOP: Bojan Bazelli • ED: William Goldenberg • DES: Naomi Shohan • CAST: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Teresa Palmer, Alfred Molina, Toby Kebbell
The long wait is over and here at last is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. I kid, I kid. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is indeed another of the many Harry Potter clones to grace our screens, this one based on the segment of the same name from Disney’s Fantasia (as far as original source material goes, it’s certainly better than a theme park ride). Director Jon Turteltaub teams up with his National Treasure star, Nicolas Cage, to bring us on an energetic journey into the realms of magic and physics.
The plot will raise no eyebrows as following the death of Arthurian wizard Merlin his apprentice, Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage), is assigned to await the birth of Merlin’s successor, who alone can defeat their evil nemesis. This gifted youth turns out to be an oblivious and clumsy physics student, Dave (Jay Baruchel), in present day New York. While it is an unabashed Harry Potter clone, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice emerges as a surprisingly funny and highly entertaining addition to this rapidly expanding sub-genre.
The cast make a good go of it with Baruchel exhibiting charisma and humour as the titular apprentice while his Conan O’Brien modelled quiff makes up for his added years. Nicolas Cage is entirely at home playing the outwardly grumpy Balthazar while the film had a real coup with the casting of its villains. On the side of evil is Balthazar’s peer, Maxim Horvath, played with relish by Alfred Molina, along with his own apprentice, Drake Stone (Toby Kebbell). Kebbell is excellent as the rock star magician complete with ostentatious penthouse and 6-inch heels while you can’t help but root for thespian Molina as he chews through scenery with reckless abandon.
Visually, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a real treat as the many set-pieces feature very impressive special effects. These aren’t just the usual good and evil opposing beams of light either – as with Fantasia, the film gets some great work out of the sorcerers’ possession of inanimate objects.
What is most striking about this film is how it manages to be entertaining as a magical tale but also to include physics and, shockingly, make it cool. Just like the similarly entertaining Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief which makes Greek mythology appealing for a young audience, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is highly recommended as a film to entertain children but which may also have the added bonus of rousing their interest in science.