Review: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

JESS STEWART: Nicholas Cage attempts to channel his inner Aragorn. “Instead, what we’re hearing is, ‘Big Issue, anyone?'”

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Director: Jon Turteltaub

It’s times like these when I can begin to comprehend the utter hatred that about half the population seems to harbour against Nicolas Cage. I myself am quite a fan. But in his latest outing, Disney’s ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’, there was, I’m certain of it, a series of audible (and justified) cringes from the audience I sat with throughout every second of his screen-time.

Granted, most of this venom should be directed against the costume designer. Why oh why oh why does he need those fingerless gloves? And what’s with the long, straggly, so-greasy-it’s-a-shade-darker-than-normal hair? The look, we can tell, is trying to say, ‘Check me out, I’m cool and rugged. Like Aragorn.’ Instead, what we’re hearing is, ‘Big Issue, anyone?’

Despite this, ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ is a great summer romp. It follows the adventures of young physics nerd Dave, played charmingly by Jay Baruchel – though can anyone decide whether that voice is endearing or simply painfully annoying? I’m still straddling the issue. After a traumatic childhood run-in with sorcerers Balthazaar Blake (Nicolas Cage) and the brilliantly evil Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina), Dave is forced to realise ten years later that he, in fact, is the descendent of Merlin and subsequently the only one capable of defeating the evil sorceress Morgana. As Balthazaar embarks on the task of teaching his young apprentice the tricks of the trade, Dave must embrace his fate and save the world – whilst at the same time, of course, trying to win the girl of his dreams.

All very original stuff.

But it doesn’t really matter too much that all of this has been done before. Many times. It’s the dynamic duo of Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer – though they’ve lost the magic they once had. The glory days of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ ended long ago; with ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest’, in fact. But never mind. It’s still bundles of fun if we ignore Cage’s outfit.

Which, luckily, proves remarkably easy to do. Baruchel really is proving a wonderfully comic find, hitting exactly the right notes of geekiness in all his roles so far. Who needs good looks when you’ve got a voice that sounds like a nasal foghorn? The blond hottie is clearly charmed senseless. Then there’s Alfred Molina, who can do no wrong in my eyes. Yes, it’s cliché that they’ve again classed the goodies as wholesome Americans (though, as I’ve mentioned, ‘wholesome’ isn’t the word that comes to mind when looking at Cage), and the baddies as well-spoken Englishmen. But Molina’s just so damn good at it, that I forgive them completely. It’s Doc Ock with a goatee and a fur coat. It doesn’t get much better than that.

In the end, it should all be wrong. And a lot of it is. But, for the most part, it’s actually pretty fun. So go enjoy it, and just love the little spark of magic that Disney and Bruckheimer have retained. It’s a dwindling fire, but still enough to put a smile on our faces. That’s good enough for me.