The Wit and the Wizardry
In the wake of the popularity of "Harry Potter" there have been plenty of movies which have tried to jump on the band wagon and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is another one. Stripped to its basics and we have a child who doesn't know that he is a sorcerer, the chosen one, who under the guidance of an old sorcerer must learn his craft and defeat an evil sorcerer. As you can see the basics are not that different but then "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" does something different because whilst "Harry Potter" was about magic and mystery this one goes for big effects and wit as are hero is a nerdish geek. It works, well it works in the fact that "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is entertaining thanks to the wit and the special effects but it isn't a filling movie, just one you watch and forget about.
After Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina - The Hoax), one of Merlin's apprentices turns to the dark side by joining Morgana (Alice Krige), Balthazar Blake entombs (Nicolas Cage - Knowing) them both as well as love of his life Veronica (Monica Bellucci) in a Grimhold whilst he searches for the chosen one, a powerful sorcerer who will be able to kill Morgana. Centuries past and Balthazar fails to find the chosen one till the year 2000 when he comes across Dave Stutler (Jake Cherry), a 9 year old boy who he discovers is the one he has been looking for. But before he can explain to young Dave that he is the chosen one Balthazar ends up in a magic vase with Horvath. 10 years later both Horvath and Balthazar escape the vase and with Horvath looking to release Morgana from the Grimhold to raise up a vast army of the undead Balthazar must find Dave (Jay Baruchel - Night at the Museum 2) and teach him how to use his special powers.
On a basic level "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is nothing special and as already mentioned basically runs with a very similar idea to "Harry Potter" and to be honest many other movies. As such it is incredibly easy to follow and boils down to Balthazar teaching Dave about magic, Dave not believing in himself, a few battles with Horvath before a big final battle with Morgana. There is some minor romance as the now teen Dave finds himself in the company of Becky who he had a childhood crush on and there is also Balthazar and the love of his life Veronica but it never over complicates things.
But the thing about "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is that it is not trying to be some enchanting magical adventure movie but more of a witty action packed movie fuelled by special effects. And there are a lot of special effects going as the CGI team work over time to create big elements from flying statues to dust clouds, flaming circles and sparks flying from Teslar Coils to music. In fairness it all works and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is very much a movie dominated by these special effects, moving at great speed so that you're never a minute or two from the next one. And some of them are quite amusing because there are several nods to other movies both in dialogue and visually especially with a "Fantasia" inspired scene.
Now all of that doesn't make "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" that different to a lot of movies which takes us into the mystical world of wizardry but it adds another element and that is wit. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is full of wit from the teenage Dave being a nerdish science geek with an uneasy style about him to Balthazar trying to make him into a wizard with old man pointy shoes. The wit whilst not the sharpest you will come across does makes it a movie of funny often sarcastic lines and big action and thankfully much of the humour comes off especially with various movie in jokes.
What is sort of ironic is that whilst "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" stars Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina and Toby Kebbell all of which deliver enjoyable performances it never ends up being a movie about anyone of them. The humour works because each of the characters have their moment of wit, be it Howarth's sarcastic tone or Toby Kebbell as Drake appearing to be imitating Russell Brand in sound and mannerisms.
What this all boils down to is that "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is entertaining with its mix of wit, wizardry and special effects but at the same time it is just a typical Hollywood movie which whilst entertaining is forgettable.