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The Sorcerers Apprentice
Genre Fantasy
Year: 2010

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone ripped off Walt Disney’s Fantasia… well, at least the title of that famous 10-minute symphonic clip of Mickey Mouse and his magic shrooms brooms. Seventy years later we have the live-action The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, which has taken revenge on Harry Potter with a knock-off adventure. It’s a vicious cycle and unfortunately, for hogwarts and potheads – Harry doesn’t make an appearance in this one – he doesn’t even feature in the title, poor blighter! As far as fantasy adventures go, The Sorcerer's Apprentice makes a worthy popcorn-popper in the build-up to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 scheduled for release in early December. The Sorcerer's Apprentice follows in the wake of Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief and is a safe bet if you got a kick out of that fun and perilsome Harry Potter knock-off.

Balthazar (Cage), an immortal master wizard lives in New York City protecting a "Russian doll" casket, which imprisons his one true love and the spirits of several evil sorcerers. A prophecy unites him with Dave (Baruchel), a seemingly ordinary New York nerd, whose chance encounter with Balthazar results in both the sorcerer and his arch-rival, Maxim (Molina), being trapped in another vessel for 10 years. When the two are unwittingly released, New York City becomes the battleground for an epic war of magic and wit, in which Dave must prove himself worthy of being The Sorcerer's Apprentice to save the city and get the girl.

The focus is slightly left of centre as Nicolas Cage takes charge as the Sorcerer, Balthazar. His apprentice, an ordinary guy named Dave, is taken on by Jay Baruchel, who you'll recognise from Knocked Up, Fanboys and more recently that sleeper hit, She's Out Of My League. Alfred Molina best known for his role as Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2 features as Balthazar's evil nemesis, Maxim, rounding off the name star cast with South Africa's very own Alice Krige, the sexy Monica Bellucci and newcomer, Teresa Palmer as Becky.

This is a Disney/Bruckheimer fantasy adventure production, but let's not forget this is the team that brought us adventures like Pirates of the Caribbean, Prince of Persia: The Sand of Time and National Treasure... try to forget G-FORCE. Jon Turteltaub directed Nicolas Cage in National Treasure, so it's no surprise that the director-actor duo have teamed up again in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Turteltaub is comfortable with action-adventure and delivers another action-packed, fun and flashy blockbuster. Perhaps National Treasure: Book of Secrets opened the door for him with that fantasy-inspired notion that Mount Rushmore could possibly contain a Lost City with Aztec gold and claim it as a "national treasure" in the US.

The performances hold up with the main characters getting the most rounded characters, but there really isn't too much pressure in this tongue-in-cheek adventure. As with Harry Potter and his American apprentice, Percy Jackson... there's plenty of space for comedy to break loose amongst the dark magic and serious action set pieces. This is best embodied by the character, Drake Stone, a David Copperfield rip-off... who for the majority of the film will probably have most convinced he's an up-and-coming comic magician with all the product placements. His outrageous gothic-glam garb was probably designed with Get Him to the Greek's Russell Brand in mind, but Toby Kebbell owns the part like Pinky to the Brain as Maxim's sidekick. Slapstick comedy, electric magic effects, joking references to Disney's Fantasia... The Sorcerer's Apprentice has a little something for everyone. 

This is your typical Bruckheimer blockbuster formula... awkward hero, traveled master, threatening arch-rival, intermittent comic relief with a dash of sweet, yet dorky romance. As familiar as it sounds, it hangs together well with great chemistry between the father-son dynamic between Cage and Baruchel. Good pacing, a fun story and great action make The Sorcerer's Apprentice compelling, coupled with some quality CGI - especially in the Tesla subway lightning HQ. It's light Friday night feel good entertainment, the sort of no-brainer escapist fare that commercial cinemas thrive on. All in all, a great accompaniment to a popcorn and Coke.

The bottom line: Entertaining.

5.25/10 ( 4 Votes )
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