Monday, July 26, 2010

FILM: A Magical Ride with Sorcerer's Apprentice (Review)

If you're a fan of fantasy, magic and overlooked good guys stepping up when it matters most, then you'll enjoy "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."

Inspired from the memorable sequence in Disney's 1940 epic, "Fantasia," where Mickey Mouse finds his hands full with bewitched broomsticks and buckets, the movie - directed by Jon Turteltaub ("National Treasure") - emcompasses more than that moment but does emulate the scene with a touch more humor than Mickey's cleaning escapade. The story centers around Dave Stetler, who at the age of ten crosses paths with Balthazar Blake (Nicholas Cage) and forever has his life changed when Merlin's dragon ring reacts to him.

Magical lore seeps in through the background as Balthazar is one of three apprentices of Merlin that were given the duty to protect the world from the followers of Morgana and spelled not to age a day until they discovered the Prime Merlinian. The adversary, Horvath, was also one of the three apprentices but his allegiances shifted when the last of Merlin's apprentices, Veronica, chose Balthazar for romance instead of him. Horvath embraces the ways of Morgana and seeks to punish the world for his pain and release Morgana in The Rising, leaving Dave Stetler as the final hope for the side of good as only the Prime Merlinian would have the power to defeat her.

Nicholas Cage shines in the role of Balthazar Blake, a sorcerer who has searched for over one thousand years for the Prime Merlinian. He plays the role of an out of his era mentor well, with a level of cool eccentricity that only added to his character's mystique. Jay Baruchel plays the twenty year-old version of Dave that has the stigma from meeting Balthazar ten years previously and is reluctant to step into the role of hero. But like Baruchel's animated role from this year's "How to Train Your Dragon" form Dreamworks, here in the role of Dave Stetler he grows into the responsibility placed onto his shoulders and surpasses expectations, becoming an endearing hero to the audience.

In a movie where the special effects will clearly make or break the look of the film, the effects in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" easily bring credibility to the magic that is thrown around by the characters. Balthazar's steel eagle that he creates from a building gargoyle - that locale gave me "The Dark Knight" vibes - and rides throughout the film looks phenomenal as does the bull statue Horvath animates near the end of the film but perhaps most impressive is the sequence where a giant paper dragon that is being marched through a Chinatown parade is then transformed into a real, fire-breathing version that chases after Dave.

The film's runtime comes in just under two hours and overall, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is a perfect example of entertaining Summer fun for the whole family. Filled with fantasy, magic, adventure and let's not forget the charming love story that is sprinkled in throughout makes it easy to recommend this movie as one you won't regret sitting down and enjoying with your family.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's picspam on a 'magical' theme.

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