Friday, December 3, 2010

The Sorcerer's Apprentice: The Summer Blockbuster That Wasn't

I love Nicolas Cage. He picks to be in some of the most offbeat, albeit entertaining, features of any actor today. Harrison Ford could use his savvy as he hasn't been in a good movie in over a decade. Cage's latest is far from his best work but it was also far better than a lot of the crap I sat through this summer. Unfortunately, it had the bad timing to come out when all the other big blockbuster like the new Twilight movie and Inception came out and was lost in the white noise. It's really too bad because the film was a lot of fun but not without some problems.
Nicholas Cage plays ancient magician Balthazar Blake, an immortal searching for Merlin's replacement for a thousand years. Enter Jay Baruchel as Dave, first seen as a ten year old kid who accidentally unleashes bad guy Horvath(Alfred Molina) from a doll prison. After Balthazar and Horvath are trapped in an urn for ten years, they escape and wage war on each other and hapless Jay in order to unleash Armageddon on an unsuspecting public. Merlin's nemesis Morgana La Fey (Alice Krieg) is the devil in this battle, trapped with Balthazar's love interest Veronica (Monica Bellucci), which both Cage and Molina want to release for vastly different reasons. Balthazar teaches Dave how to be a sorcerer as only he can kill Morgana as Horvath tries to stop them by any means possible. All the while Dave is smitten with his grade school love interest, Becky (Theresa Barnes) who of course has no idea what Dave is up to.
The plot is fun, the action sequences well directed (finally), and the movie moves along at a brisk pace. I am still uncertain about Jay Baruchel as a leading man however. I have liked him in secondary roles like Tropic Thunder and Night at The Museum:Smithsonian. But as a lead, he lacks the charisma to pull it off. He was terrible in She's Out of My League although that film would have needed a huge overhaul to work with anyone. Bellucci and Kreig are for the most wasted in too small a part. And as the title suggests, Dave finds himself ankle deep in water and moving mops ala Fantasia, a scene that probably should have been left on the cutting room floor. Cage and Molina are excellent as always though and make the movie the fun thrill ride it should be. Definitely worth a rental.

3 and 1/2 stars out of 5

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