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Thursday, July 29, 2010 12:58 am

Sorcerer casts an enchanting spell

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Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel star in The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

Sometimes, having low expectations is a good thing. Knowing that the brain trust behind the National Treasure movies, actor Nicolas Cage and director Jon Turteltaub, were collaborating to turn The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (that would be the Mickey Mouse segment from Fantasia), into a feature film filled me with dread. That the advance buzz on the film was akin to the coming of the plague didn’t help.

Imagine my surprise when I found myself not only entertained but delighted by this lighthearted effort that, while wholly predictable, was executed with a degree of charm and enthusiasm that makes it a winner for the whole family. Cage is Balthazar Blake, a centuries-old wizard who’s been searching for hundreds of years for an apprentice. This chosen one will be the most powerful magician of all and will be able to release his beloved, Veronica (Monica Bellucci), from a mystical prison. Problem is, their mortal enemies Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina) and Morgan La Fay (Alice Krige) are also encased there as well. Unfortunately, a middle schooler named Dave (Jay Burachel) mucks up the works and soon Maxim is on the loose and Blake must contain him once more with a new helper in tow – Dave.

The interaction between master and pupil provides the film with its best moments. Cage and Burachel have a free and easy chemistry with each other and their give and take makes for good comedy. The special effects are quite good, especially during the film’s most memorable moment, when Turteltaub and company recreate the famous sequence from Fantasia as Dave’s effort to clean up the lab results in chaos when his army of enchanted mops rage out of control. There’s always the sense that the cast, particularly Cage, is winking at the camera and the sense of fun they create overcomes the script’s shortcomings. As far as movies are concerned, there’s nothing more magical than chemistry between castmates.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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