The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
by Tony Medley
Run Time 110 minutes.
Marginal for children.
Apprentice was created by the 18th-Century German writer,
Goethe, who wrote Der Zauberlehrling in 1797, a 14-stanza poem
narrated by the apprentice. A hundred years later the poem was adapted
into a 10-minute symphonic piece, L’apprenti sorcier, by French
composer Paul Dukas, which combined musical coloration with rhythmic
appeal. It was highlighted by the march of the broomsticks.
One hundred forty years
after Goethe wrote it, Walt Disney interested Leopold Stokowski to join
him in creating the animated Fantasia, a 125-minute cartoon full
of Classical Music. The best episode was considered to be The
Sorcerer’s Apprentice, which played to march of the broomsticks.
Now, 203 years after
Goethe’s creation, popmeisters producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director
Jon Turtletaub have taken another stab at it. But credit for this should
go to star Nicolas Cage (Turtletaub’s classmate from Beverly Hills High
School), who plays Balthazar Blake, a master sorcerer in today’s
Manhattan, who is trying to defend the city from his arch-nemesis over
the centuries, Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina), recruiting Dave Stutler
(Jay Baruchel) as his long-sought protégé. Balthazar and Maxim have been
enemies for centuries because the saintly Merlin made Balthazar his
successor instead of Alfred or the evil Morgana (Alice Maud Krige). The
new treatment of Goethe’s masterpiece was Cage’s idea.
With the fate of the world
at stake, the film is replete with magical special effects. To make it
appeal to a wider audience, Dave has a pretty girl, Becky Barnes (Teresa
Palmer), for whom he yearns, which throws a monkey wrench into
Balthazar’s efforts to defeat his evil nemesis. Dave just can’t seem to
reconcile his obligations as Balthazar’s protégé with the hots he feels
Despite all the special
effects, the best part of the film is Molina, who gives another
exceptional performance. Cage is pretty much the same as he is in all
his recent movies. Palmer is beautiful and makes the best of her job as
the love interest. Baruchel is adequate, but the film might have been
better with someone more appealing in this key role.
In addition to Molina’s
award-quality performance, lots of special effects showing impossible
conjuration are the main draws in this film. Alas, they aren’t enough to
keep this from causing a lot of squirming.