Where’s the Blue Hat?: A Review of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Another Disney-Bruckheimer collaboration debuted this past week with the opening of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The film stars the ever-busy Nicolas Cage who some would argue has chosen quantity over quality as he has starred in nearly 30 films over the last decade. It is not the first time that he has teamed up with Bruckheimer, as both National Treasure and its sequel were big at the box office.
The movie opens with the background to the story as many films due. Especially for a plotline as far-out as this one, this pre-story was a necessity. The narrative, which describes how Merlin himself trained Balthazar (Cage), seems to be more compelling than the actual story. In fact a prequel that detailed the nearly 1300 years before Balthazar meets Dave (co-star Jay Baruchel) would have plenty of room for creative adventure. I digress…
Dave is a physics nerd at NYU who suddenly finds out that he is the “chosen one” of magicians (he is even dubbed with a very hokey name that I will spare you of). His task is to help defeat Merlin’s arch nemesis Morgan le Fay of Arthurian legend. Baruchel overplays the his character’s nerdiness and transforms him into not only a geek, but their chosen leader at the annual Lack of Social Skills Convention. Cage is typical and his cadence and delivery of most of his lines mirrors that of many of his recent roles.
Without giving away too much of the plot (Spoiler alert: be ready for plasmoid CPR), this film suffers from a trend that is becoming all too common for Disney. Disney hit it big when they created Pirates of the Caribbean based on the classic and iconic rides at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Since then, they have been trying to repeat the phenomenon of taking something that at its core is Disney and elaborating on it until it is almost something entirely different. Case studies would consist of Haunted Mansion, Country Bear Jamboree, and possibly even Enchanted (although the argument would be a little different here).
Everyone who knows Disney recognizes the link between this new film and the classic scene from the original Fantasia. If this doesn’t ring any bells Google image Disney’s Hollywood Studios and see what the main picture is. The scene where Mickey dons the blue stars and moon hat has forever been immortalized in film and Disney culture as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. While Disney tries to create a link with a mop scene and some borrowed music in the new film, the link is at best weak and disappointing. Disney has become complacent in using old classic themes to drum up interest in new entirely different enterprises and this is just the latest example.
My main beef with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is not is that the plot is terrible, its just poorly executed. Again, as any Bruckheimer production of late, it dazzles with some impressive effects and CGI, but much of the substance is missing. There are allusions to Lucas blockbusters Indiana Jones and Star Wars, but this film is at best in a galaxy far far away from those two. The movie does a great job of using the hit single “Secrets” by OneRepublic to push forward the college-aged romance and makes some of the sappiness OK. However, lots of the rest of the plot seems hokey and forced. If you’re a big fan on Cage, special effects, or OneRepublic try this one out. Its not terrible, just mediocre. Otherwise, grab a bag of popcorn and pull out your old VHS of Fantasia.
2 stars out of 5
Contributed by: James N.(NDI#82). James is the Disney Driven Life’s resident movie reviewer and creator of The CLAWtomic BAUM Movie Reviews Blog