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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Short on story, long on spectacle

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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July 18, 2010 -- “The Sorcerer's Apprentice,” very loosely based on a segment of the 1940 film “Fantasia,” which, in turn was based on a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, is a fairly standard film about mentoring and coming of age with a little bit of romance and a lot of special effects. It shows a fair amount of visual imagination, but not much imagination when it comes to story and dialogue.

Nicholas Cage stars as Balthazar, a centuries-old magician born in the days of King Arthur. Throughout his long life he has been looking for Merlin's successor, a magician powerful enough to destroy the evil Morgana (Alice Krige), Merlin's greatest rival, currently imprisoned in a container along with several other sorcerers. Balthazar finally finds Merlin's successor in a nerdy science student, Dave Stutler (played by Jay Baruchel of “She's Out of My League”) living in modern day New York City. Dave accidentally releases evil sorcerer Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina of “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”) from the container and he sets about trying to release Morgana. Balthazar will have to teach Dave how to be a sorcerer so the both of them can stop Morgana from being released.

Dave has a hard time focusing on learning to be a sorcerer, however, when he becomes friends with Becky (Theresa Palmer of “The Grudge 2”) a beautiful young student at NYU. Balthazar has his own problems. Locked in the same prison with Morgana is his love, Vernoica (Monica Bellucci of “Don't Look Back”). He can't release her without also releasing Morgana, who is a threat to the entire world. Meanwhile, Horvath has found his own apprentice in Drake Stone (Toby Kebbell) who is entirely too modern for Horvath's taste.

The acting in this film is effective and the special effects are quite good. The pacing is good too. What is really lacking is a compelling story and good dialog. For instance, a lot could have been made about the vast age difference between some of the characters and the tremendous changes in culture and language, but little is done to take advantage of these kinds of story possibilities. Instead everyone acts and sounds quite modern, even if they've been locked in a bottle for a thousand years. This film rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2010 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)