One of the most magical of all animated movie sequences features Mickey Mouse wildly splish-splashing and abracadabra-ing his way through “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence from Disney’s “Fantasia.” Now Disney, via the inevitable Jerry Bruckheimer, has come up with “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” starring Nicolas Cage. He can’t hold a candle to Mickey.
Looking less like a sorcerer than like someone who lives under a freeway overpass, Cage’s Balthazar Blake is a 1,400-year-old Merlin disciple on the prowl to locate the boy known as the Prime Merlinean. This is not, to put it gently, the most exciting monicker for somebody who is prophesied to battle dead souls from the dark side – the sub-Prime Merlineans? – who are threatening to take over the planet.
The sub-Primes are under the tutelage of Balthazar’s archnemesis, Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina). The Merlinean turns out to be a gangly New York physics whiz named Dave Butler (Jay Baruchel). As you might expect from a Bruckheimer extravaganza, there’s some kind of mayhem going on every minute, but much of it is familiar from other movies, such as “The Mummy,” that weren't any better than this one.
If the actors were as forgettable as the action, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” directed by Jon Turtletaub, would resemble nothing so much as one long trailer for itself, but Cage is amusingly skanky, Molina is dependably arch, and Baruchel is engagingly down to earth. But do we really need to watch them play out this exhaustingly empty scenario? And do we really need another franchise from Jerry Bruckheimer? Vote with your feet. Grade: C (Rated PG for fantasy action violence, some mild rude humor, and brief language.)
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