Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

{The Sorcerer’s Apprentice opened in Seattle on Wednesday, July 14 and is playing at The Metro and The Meridian}

I banned Nicolas Cage movies since he ruined The Wicker Man in 2006, yet for some reason I was curious about this because I love Jay Baruchel (Led! Zepplin! Signed my shirt!”), even though I was sure Cage would brand it with his trademark over-the-top ridiculousness.

I also went into this knowing that because The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was based on a segment from 1940’s animated Fantasia—with the Mouse himself, even—and directed by the man responsible for the National Treasure series, it was probably going to be some of the worst stuff I’ve ever seen on film, but I have to tell you even I wasn’t prepared for the awfulness that ensued.

Cage plays Balthazar, the aforementioned Sorcerer, a good “Merlinian” who’s been trapping evil “Morganians” for centuries (terms, by the way, that reminded me that I’m still pissed off at George Lucas for the whole midi-chlorians thing).

Dark magic Queen Morgana slaughters Merlin, so super-hot Veronica (HELLO Monica Belucci) joins bodies with her and they both get sealed up in a magic “nesting doll”. Yes, I actually just said that—and then Balthazar traps the other evil Morganian in the doll too: Horvath, played by Alfred Molina: AKA the only thing I even remotely liked about this film.

With his dying words, Merlin gives Balthazar a special dragon ring and tells him to search for the “one true Merlinian” because that kid will be the only one strong enough to defeat Morgana for good. Cut to a musical montage of Cage wearing a jaunty leather sorcerer’s hat and hitting up angelic-faced kids in hopes that they’re the one, but not finding the right kid until nerdy Dave stumbles into his antiques shop by accident and the lo! The ring fits!

Unfortunately, Dave also “accidentally” releases Hovarth from the nesting doll, then has a nervous breakdown and runs away—forcing Balthazar to trap himself and Hovarth in another magical vessel for approximately 10 years so the audience can have a plausible (???) explanation for Jay Baruchel. Once Balthazar finds Dave again, he convinces him that he’s “the one” and that they must initiate training to prepare him for the day Morgana returns to slaughter everyone on earth. 

Jay Baruchel plays his usual, loveable, nerdy self in the form of a college grad student who has created his own Tesla coil. Because, you know, that’s what college students do. They hole themselves up in a giant abandoned warehouse and build actual Tesla coils. Three of them. Then they make the Tesla coils play Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” while their hot would-be girlfriend that they’ve been lusting after since 5th grade tries not to get electrocuted. Right?

But I digress: Baruchel’s role is raise one eyebrow and drop witty one-liners like “But those are old man shoes!” and argue with Balthazar about his sorcery training while Cage fires off shout-y commands that are, I guess, also supposed to be funny.

All of the training (which conveniently has to do with electricity) apparently messes up the warehouse so badly that there are piles of dishes, pizza boxes, and soda cans all over the place. Eventually Dave only has 10 minutes to clean up before his hot date arrives. What will he do? WHAT WILL HE DO?

Well, obviously he’ll use magic to command some mops and brooms to clean up the place while he takes a shower. And they’ll get out of control. And pour water all over the place—all while the original score from Fantasia plays. It’s hilarious, you guys.

The only thing that might top that is the most obvious Star Wars reference ever by Hovarth, followed up by an explanation of the most obvious Star Wars reference ever (by Dave’s Morganian counterpart, a slimy Vegas magician named Drake Stone), just in case someone out there doesn’t get it. *le sigh*

Add in the see-it-coming-from-a-mile-away-totally-uninspired climax, and it all comes across as Disney trying to capitalize on the Harry Potter trend, poorly. Very, very poorly. But I’ll go ahead and admit that it’s possible kids may love the crap out of this thing. In fact, most of the adult audience I saw this with was laughing, cheering, and clapping.

Weird, since the entire film is a formulaic, coincidental, not-at-all-hilarious schlock-fest that can’t even be saved by some obviously spendy special effects. I’d say skip this one, unless you’re curious about whether or not Cage’s incredible hair weave will win some kind of award.