This live action version based upon The Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment of the classic Disney animated film Fantasia, was dreamed up by Nicholas Cage, while working on another project. A passionate admirer of Disney’s animated version of this classic tale, Cage’s desire to play a character with mystical abilities led to his role as Balthazar, one of three protégées of the great wizard Merlin. As Morgana and Merlin were archenemies, so are their prospective followers, the Morganians and the Merlinians.
Hundreds of years have passed since Balthazar imprisoned Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina, Prince of Persia) and his creepy compatriots in the Grimhold, a sort of nesting doll prison. Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel) is only 10 years old when he first encounters Horvath, a debonair and deadly Morganian; and Balthazar, who has been searching for the Prime Merlinian, the inheritor of Merlin’s powers.
Flash forward nearly 10 years, and Dave is now a nerdy NYU physics student, when he finds himself relentlessly pursued by both sorcerers for different reasons. As Balthazar attempts to educate his reluctant initiate on the finer points of sorcery, Dave is desperate to forge a bond with his grade school crush, Becky (Teresa Palmer). His lackadaisical attitude toward the finer points results in a sequence that conjures the iconic multiplying mop scene from Fantasia.
Set entirely in Manhattan with memorable scenes in Battery Park, Chinatown and on the top of the Chrysler Building, the film shows lots of love to the Big Apple. With quote-worthy one-liners, careening magically morphing car chases down Sixth Avenue, and a phalanx of vengeful pit-of-darkness villains, Apprentice has a balanced mix of laughs, action, and shivers.
Alice Krige, always her most chilling as a villain, casts the darkest of shadows, however briefly, as Morgan LeFay. Drake Stone (Toby Kebbel), a punky stage performer, provides chuckles as Horvath’s hip helper, as he attempts to be popular and evil all at once. Lightning ignited fighting scenes and magical mirrors are rendered more realistic with excellent CGI.
As expected, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director John Turteltaub (National Treasure) have created an innovative and epic comedy adventure for breezy summer days.