Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Good Idea, but a Poor Movie


THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE (2010)

Produced By: Disney
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Teresa Palmer, Alfred Molina and others
Rating: ** of 5 (2 of 5)
Pros: The basic premise of the story is interesting, fine acting from Cage
Cons: Stretches on with unnecessary sub-plots, a very irritating nasal tone from the lead actor, redundant special effects

In the Harry Potter era, movies about sorcerers have to be very careful and avoid taking a flight of fantasy that flies a little too high. In keeping with that, The Sorcerer's Apprentice has at its heart a decent underdog who rises to become the hero who saved the world. Don't we all love underdogs?

Dave (Jay Baruchel; played in his younger years by Jake Cherry) is your average Physics nerd with no great life and no girlfriend, until he discovers the sorcerer Balthazar (Nicholas Cage). Then there is a lot of drama, plenty of lighting and the world is saved from a certain doom. Yeah, that's about it. In the middle, there are all these silly subplots which are just pointless and add nothing but time to the movie.

Baruchel's acting was just OK, but his nasal voice was a source of unending torture. I'm not sure if he did it on purpose to add to the 'Physics nerd' stereotype or if that's his actual voice but either way, it was irritating. His girlfriend in the movie, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) displayed particularly poor acting because while her voice was modulating, her face was as stiff as a rock. Cage was the silver lining here with some good acting. Unfortunately, his character was not really up to his mark. The rest of the cast simply kept laughing and delivering some lines now and again with plenty of lighting and electromagnetic energy going around.

The story itself is interesting it its essence, but the writers showed no creativity. For example, why is it that when you need magic, you have to have some Chinese connection? In this movie, Merlin is the magician in focus but even then his magic has to be concentrated in some silly Chinese doll. And why does the ghost's age always have to be a thousand years and nothing else? Very poor imagination here. The on-off love between the protagonist and his girlfriend is fun at first but gets irritating and at the end we all know how it's going to end.

Oh, and a word on the special effects: it was redundant. Really, a year that saw Avatar come out with larger-than-life effects also saw an absolutely stereotyped lightning-and-clouds scene in this movie! Even the final set of effects, with a giant star of light being formed, wasn't fortunate enough to get a panoramic view and we got to see it in parts. How very kind.

The costume design was good though, but that hardly changes anything. Poor lines, poor direction and a rather cliched ending sealed it's fate - don't waste your time on this unless you happen to be a serious sorcery buff. (OTFS)

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