Movie Review: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Executive producer Nicholas Cage puts on this movie The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  If you loved the Goethe poem, this isn’t it.  If you loved the Disney classic cartoon, this isn’t it.  If you loved the moral of the original poem, this isn’t it.  This was garbage wrapped up in cheap tin foil and packaged with one big name actor, who seems to star in his own films that he, himself, produces.  More power to him, but he bastardizes what little that passes for American culture, not to the extent and depravity of MTV, but it’s damn close.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice stars Balthazar Blake played by Nicholas Cage, his arch nemesis Maxim Horvath played by Alfred Molina, and his apprentice Dave played by Jay Baruchel of She’s Out of My League, and all those other nerds are cool movies Hollywood tries to hoist on young kids.  The plot of the story is a 3 way love triangle between Balthazar, Horvath and Veronica played by Monica Belluci.  Veronica doesn’t seem to have a last name.  Who cares, she’s in this over long movie for all of 5 minutes.  I’m sure she’s thanking her agent for that.

The Evil Horvath with a Co-conspirator Morganian

Anyway, this love triangle is setup by none other than the grand sorcerer of sorcerers Merlin, yeah, King Arthur’s Merlin.  What in hell King Arthur and Merlin have to do with a German poem, I have no clue.  But, apparently, Americans have no culture of their own, so lets setup the back story based on the only famous wizard we know.  God forbid someone should go out on a limb and actually create an American wizard.  Anyway, as it turns out the 3 are in fact Merlins apprentices.

It seems Merlin’s original apprentice, not ever mentioned in the movie as a subplot, Morgana le Fay played by Alice Krige of the Borg from Star Trek, became overly powerful and killed Merlin, plotting to one day rule the world, with a new found spell that would raise the dead to do her bidding.  The two “good” apprentices, Veronica and Balthazar are charged with defeating her.  Veronica, for her part, sacrifices herself, and steals the soul of Morgana le Fay, putting it inside her body, then being sealed in a sort of canoptic jar by Balthazar.  Balthazar, at Merlin’s last dying breath, is to take Merlin’s ring and find the one apprentice who will be capable of wearing it, and destined to defeat Morgana le Fay.

Let’s stop right here.  In this opening montage of him “searching”, he comes across several ethnic children, very aptly cast in the role of pseudo-sorcerer looking types.  In fact the very first apprentice-type passed up by Balthazar is a wise looking, cherub faced, Black kid.  It would have been an entirely different movie had the story been about that child, but instead we land on some poor, random, nerd, socially inept, white boy.  The montage ends with the introduction of the kid to the fact that magic is real in the world and all his other 10 yr old classmates pointing and laughing at his wet pants, mistaken for him peeing on himself.

The Real Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The Lovely Veronica

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is the English name of a poem by Goethe, Der Zauberlehrling, written in 1797. The poem is a ballad in fourteen stanzas.

The poem begins as an old sorcerer departs his workshop, leaving his apprentice with chores to perform. Tired of fetching water by pail, the apprentice enchants a broom  to do the work for him — using magic he is not yet fully trained in. The floor is soon awash with water, and the apprentice realizes that he cannot stop the broom because he does not know how to.

Not knowing how to control the enchanted broom, the apprentice splits it in two with an axe, but each of the pieces becomes a new broom and takes up a pail and continues fetching water, now at twice the speed. When all seems lost, the old sorcerer returns, quickly breaks the spell and saves the day. The poem finishes with the old sorcerer’s statement that powerful spirits should only be called by the master himself.

Der Zauberlehrling is well-known in the German-speaking world. The lines in which the apprentice implores the returning sorcerer to help him with the mess he has created have turned into a cliché, especially the line Die Geister, die ich rief  (“The spirits that I called”), a garbled version of one of Goethe’s lines, which is often used to describe a situation where somebody summons help or uses allies that he cannot control, especially in politics.

The Beautiful Alice Krige

Yes, the 2010 Sorcerer’s Apprentice does have that sequence of the apprentice in the wizard lab, with the mops and brooms going and Balthazar coming to save the apprentice from the mess he made.  However, completely, and glaringly missing is the only dialogue the poem is famous for, i.e. the apprentice imploring the master to help him with “spirits that I called” and the jovial master admonishing the apprentice to be careful with those spirits, i.e. don’t call the big dogs if you cannot tame their bite.  Yeah, this movie has absolutely no moral to the story.

Next, casting!  Yeah, Nicholas Cage made the movie, so we cannot say we wish her weren’t in it.  But, I wish he wasn’t in it.  Also, Jay Baruchel was completely miscast.  Reticent hero is not his forte.  Complete slap stick comedy and socially inept nerd, he has it down pat.  Did the role call for socially inept nerd?  Not in my opinion.  He acts the same in every movie.  Is he even an actor?  I’ve seen better performances out of  Leonardo De Crapio, and he can’t even deliver lines convincingly.

The best actors in the movie all had 1 or 3 lines in the entire movie.  And those would be the Black roommate who delivers excitement, college nerd comradery, girl chasing, disappointment to a morose and 1 dimensional reaction from Jay Baruchel each time.   Alice Krige’s 3 lines are serving up Morgana le Fay as she has never been seen before.  She smacked it, whipped it, rubbed it down and served with butter on the side.  Alice Krige playing opposite Jay Baruchel in the final showdown seen is like the sun versus an ant, he was useless in the scene.  Finally Monica Belluci, as Balthazar’s love interest and the 3rd apprentice served up unrequited love without even speaking.  Cage looked like King Kong next to her acting skills.  It was painful to watch the two pretend to love each other.  Or, more aptly, it was painful to watch him in a scene trying to act with her still in the shot.  Elmer Fudd gives a more convincing performance when Bugs Bunny tricks him into marrying him in “That’s Opera Doc”.  I wonder what Alfred Molina muttered under his breath while in his trailer between scenes.  But, I’m sure he’s just happy to be working at his age.

Anyway, this movie was a missed opportunity.  Make sure you miss it.

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Ex law school student. I was kicked out for revealing I had a heart actually beating inside. I used to be in a modern dance company. I'm working on my 7 miracles to be proclaimed a saint by the pope. #1 is really hard, but once i get over that hump the other 6 will be a cinch.

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