Disney, Jerry Bruckheimer and Nicolas Cage tap into the legacy of one of the most celebrated animated films of all time (Fantasia) and end up bastardizing it with a live-action reconfiguration set in this vice-free version of New York City, which is missing its living warts and wonders.
This tale of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice begins promisingly during the age of Merlin when the great wizard and his trio of apprentices — Balthazar (Cage), Veronica (Monica Bellucci) and Horvath (Alfred Molina) — attempt to defeat the evil witch Morgana (Alice Krige).
But after much weaving and casting of spells, Balthazar and the traitorous Horvath find themselves battling throughout the year in search of Merlin’s heir, who just might be Dave (Jay Baruchel), a science nerd with dating issues.
Baruchel (She’s Out of My League, How to Train Your Dragon) is on a bit of a roll this year and he very nearly saves this highly convoluted gee-whiz-bang affair. Even in his nerd-tastic moments, he maintains an Everyman appeal that guarantees that audiences will root for him. He lacks the cool-weird vibe that Cage used along his early path to glory — and hopefully Baruchel will avoid the crazy bug-eyed overacting that has plagued Cage’s post-Oscar output.
If only Cage would see that maybe he’s the one in need of a little apprenticeship and seek some real magic outside Bruckheimer and Disney’s lagging kingdom. Grade: C-