RetroReviews #29: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)








Can a classic Mickey Mouse short from 1940 film Fantasia work as a feature length live action movie? Yes and no. Yes, it was indeed adapted into such a movie, and 2010’sThe Sorcerer’s Apprentice is watchable and entertaining. On other other hand, it’s a not a particularly good movie, and aside from the title it has next to nothing in common with the original cartoon short (aside from iconic scene that is cleverly worked into the live action movie)



I’m not the biggest fan of Nicholas Cage. I liked his early films in the 80s and 90s, but once he became a big Hollywood “star” in the mid 90s, his career started to bore me from that point on. Here, Cage is cast as “Balthazar Blake” a former apprentice to the great Merlin himself. Balthazar is well over a 1000 years old in 2010, and he finds himself recruiting an apprentice of his own when the evil sorceress Morgana is freed from a urn in 2000. Cage was surprisingly impressive in the role, and convincing carried the story as a powerful mysterious wizard who has many centuries of experience and tricks up his sleeve.



Unfortunately, a key area where the film faltered was with its title character – the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The “adult” version of the character is supposed to be a college student, played by Jay Baruchel. Baruchel is easily the worst part of this film, and comes across more like a character you’d meet it a Woody Allen film (a high-pitched, obnoxious neurotic type) than the type of role required in the story. I simply couldn’t buy him as a wizard-in-training, and his presence in every scene ruined much of the movie for me. Worse, Baruchel is nothing like the younger version of the character shown at the beginning of the story, and the 10 year old version of his character is actually much more likeable, heroic, and masculine than the 20 year old counterpart from the rest of the film.



Aside from the title character that I absolutely despised, the rest of the film worked for me. It was a silly story but the film worked internally and had me along for the ride. The action scenes are good and exciting, and the film has a suitable level of suspense and fun, lighthearted moments for a Disney movie. The way one sequence from the original 1940s short film was worked into this completely different live action version was a highpoint – especially considering the two stories are nothing like. I hate to pin down an entire review to one casting decision, but the bottom line is that I could recommend this movie is the title character worked within the film’s structure. He doesn’t, so I can’t. It was a weak idea to begin with and that fatal flaw makes the movie fall apart. I think it’s unfortunate, since the rest of the film is enjoyable and has a lot going for it.





** out of ****



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