The Sorceror's Apprentice
The National Treasure films were curious in that they had the look and feel of cheap knock-offs -- the first was released at the height of the Da Vinci Code's popularity and the second came out shortly before the fourth Indiana Jones film -- but they were actually big-budget, major box office successes. The Sorcerer's Apprentice attempts to repeat the feat by reuniting the director and star of those films to tell a very bargain rate Harry Potter-feeling story of dueling wizards, only this time the success part didn't materialize. Nicolas Cage stars as a sorcerer engaged in a centuries long battle with his rival (Alfred Molina) for the fate of the world. There is a lot of needlessly complicated back story, but it basically amounts to the two of them rampaging around New York turning inanimate objects into dragons and flinging glowing balls of energy at each other, which is fun, though not as fun as it sounds.
You can tell just from looking at his hair which Nicolas Cage has turned up for work (hint: it's not the Oscar-winner), and he gives a typically bonkers Cage-y performance, managing to somehow both phone it in and ham it up at the same time. He's often amusing, but it's nothing we haven't see before, and the film seems determined to keep him reigned in. Although he's ostensibly the star, the film is actually about Jay Baruchel's character, a college physics student who is also the chosen one destined to save the world from ancient evil by using magic powers without his magic ring (or something). The film puts an inordinate amount of focus on his angst and a romantic sub-plot, to the point where it sometimes seems like a romantic comedy with the wizard battles just added for some background color.
Jay Baruchel is clearly under strict instructions to bring that Shia LaBeouf energy the kids seem to like so much, so he runs around yelling “no no no no no” a lot and is jittery and spastic and unspeakably annoying throughout. As is tradition in these chosen one stories, he attempts to reject his destiny, but they take it a little far: at one point he flat-out refuses to save the world and he constantly abandons his mentor even though every time he's alone he gets attacked and almost killed. He's far, far less endearing than the film thinks he is, and you end up feeling sorry for both Cage's character, who is forced by fate to baby-sit the fool, and Cage himself, who ends up being a supporting character in his own movie.
The wizard battles between Cage and Molina are fun and imaginative at the beginning, though the CGI wizardry eventually becomes wearying and once you've seen one magic energy ball, you've seen them all. Still, I can imagine the film being decent fare for undemanding children, but their parents will likely be gritting their teeth and fans of Nicolas Cage doing that Nicolas Cage thing would be better off just waiting for the funniest clips to be incorporated into his next Youtube montage.
Extras: Some deleted scenes and technical and special effectsfocused making of documentaries, but no commentaries or really anything to write home about.
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