Most Jerry Bruckheimer productions aren’t exactly plot-driven but “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is one of the few in which even the excitement seems flacid. But then again, maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised; it is adapting a feature-length movie from a ten-minute segment of “Fantasia.” Rushed together without the slightest bit of imagination, wit, or much in the way that entertains at all, this noisy and repetitive new Bruckheimer/Nicholas Cage vehicle stands as their worst.
Cage is Balthazar Blake, a sorcerer charged by Merlin himself to guard a doll (which contains the soul of a dark witch) through the generations until he can find the Prime Merlinian, a sorcerer that can rid the world of the dark witch for good. Fast-forwarding to the present day, Balthazar seems to think he’s finally found the Merlinian in Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel), a hapless physics geek who Balthazar decides to train as his apprentice. On their tail however is Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina), a traitorous wizard who helped in killing Merlin, and then set out to create hell on earth. He obviously wants to release the dark witch for apocalyptic purposes.
The entire movie is one encounter after the next (Blake and Dave vs. Horvath) where characters magically wave their hands to knock each other down and bring inanimate objects to life in order to chase their opponent around for a while, only to do the exact same thing a couple scenes later. There is a lot of commotion, but since the same people participate in the same fight over and over again, you can be sure it’s not only tiresome but pointless. In between suspenseless action scenes (although there is one nice car chase and the effects look good), Dave tries to woo a blonde way out of his league (think he’ll win her heart?) and he trains with Balthazar in scenes that could have been really funny, but instead go with lame gags about old man shoes and getting knocked in the crotch.
Even the titular scene from “Fantasia” has no originality to it. It’s like a live-action remake of the cartoon. Cage looks bored and restrained when he really should be doing his nutty best to put some life into the character, while Baruchel’s nasally voice isn’t enough to compensate for lack of laughs. Even Alfred Molina is wasted as a constantly sneering villain. “Apprentice” might have worked, but there is just no imagination or magic here.