Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who released The Prince of Persia on audiences this summer, isn't out of the dog house yet. Early reviews are negative on Disney's latest, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, directed by Jon Turtletaub and starring Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel and ubiquitous villain-du-jour Alfred Molina.
Based on Disney's advance marketing, I went in expecting to hate the movie. I didn't. Loosely based on the famous "Sorcerer's Apprentice" sequence from the animated Disney classic Fantasia, the picture was born in the head of Nic Cage, who wanted to play a contemporary wizard. He's actually quite good as ancient sorcerer Balthazar, trained by Merlin in the 700s. Balthazar must find The Prime Merlinean, the only wizard powerful enough to destroy evil sorcerers Morgan Le Fay (Alice Krige) and Horvath (Molina). It seems that Balthazar's apprentice, geeky NYU physics whiz (Baruchel), is the only one who can slip on Merlin's ancient ring and save the world.
It all sounds pretty silly-- and it is--but the actors, jokes and effects make it weightless fun. While it's not a critic's picture--check out the dismissive reviews below--I'll bet The Sorcerer's Apprentice does okay with the family audience. Which is when Bruckheimer can take off his Dunce Hat.
"Bruckheimer meets Goethe," tweets Variety's Justin Chang. Here's the actual review.
"The effects are spellbinding," writes Screen Daily. "The rest of the movie? Not too magical."
And The Hollywood Reporter delivers a pan:
A tired relic of summer-movie cliches, clearly beaten to death by far too many credited writers -- and only a sorcerer would know how many "contributions" came from producers, the star and other hands -- "Apprentice" lurches from one been-there-done-that sequence to another.