Jerry Buckheimer and crew have been very busy. After the impressive PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN series, he had some fun with the PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME and now he has revived another Disney (short) story, which perhaps can take on that other wizard kid.
THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE tells the story of Merlin’s three apprentices versus their fight against the evil Morgana. This actually was a surprise to me, since I thought the entire story was created from scratch only using the classic story from Goethe’s poem to use as a basis.
Small history lesson; the poem of Goethe (1797) tells us the part of the apprentice using magic to clean up a bit faster, a scene we also know from Disney’s FANTASIA, which goes horribly wrong since the apprentice cannot control the magic…
Anyway, one of the three apprentices goes evil and joins Morgana to fight Merlin. Merlin eventually gets killed, but not without leaving an important message to his remaining students: “Find the next Prime Merlinian, only he can kill Morgana”. Without the fancy words, this means: “Find the successor of Merlin.” Balthazar Blake (Nicholas Cage), one of the students receives the Dragon Ring, which will help in this quest. The 3rd student Veronica (the *rawr* Monica Bellucci) uses her body to trap Morgana, whilst Balthazar has to battle the evil student Horvath (Alfred Molina).
Years goes by with Balthazar trying to find the Prime Merlinian after capturing a bunch of wizards including Horvath, when suddenly fate brings us Dave. The successor to Merlin and your definition of an ubergeek. To display this level of geekiness the director has chosen Jay Baruchel to play the role of Dave. A student in physics, who does some teaching on the side. A wise choice, looking back at recent movies like SHE IS OUT OF MY LEAGUE, he indeed is your definition of a geek who has no clue what to do with life, love and everything related to it. Dave being a small curious kid accidentally releases Horvath and the fight of good vs evil continues. Balthazar however traps Horvath (and himself this time) in some other contraption for 10 years…
When Dave, now in puberty, finally gets into the picture the training in magic starts. The ultimate goal is to use or cast magic without the help of your item; a ring, a wand, etc.. Only the Prime Merlinian can do this and it is the only way to stop Morgana. During the whole training and fighting evil in this movie, there are a couple of romantic scenes between Dave’s childhood sweetheart Becky Barnes (Teresa Palmer) and between Balthazar and Veronica.
The movie eventually ends with Dave killing Morgana, but it is this ending which puts me off a lot and I’ll try to explain. The first half of the story tells us about the history of the wizards and who Dave is. The second half of the story is all about training in magic, a couple of small battles and the commitment needed from Dave to become a true successor of Merlin.
The climax of the movie is, of course, Dave casting magic without his ring and finishing off Morgana. However it wasn’t till the very end of the movie I realised a “final” battle was going to take place. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind good winning from evil – it is the classic tale we are all accustomed to – but only at the very very and I mean very last moment of the movie the audience gets hints of the fight which will take place in the end. Every scene before the last one, makes us think the movie will come to an abrupt end and we would be treated with some flashy ending with the words “to be continued…”.
This makes the movie feel like it has been rushed out. If you are capable to ignore this flaw you are still confronted with mediocre special effects (c’mon Disney, you’ve done better than this) and average acting performance. Especially the love interest of Dave wasn’t really strong and the character of Nicholas Cage also failed to impress. So this leaves us with an average movie with a rushed out story. The very last scene after the credits shows us more might be coming, but this will depend on how much this movie has earned the studio and whether or not a sequel would be worth it.
If you ask me it would be best to just leave it at this and let it die out. Perhaps in the future a proper movie can be made, without adding too much extra fluff, and Goethe’s poem will be done justice.