(2010) director John Turteltaub
File under: Nicolas Cage, teen action films, Michael Bay explosions.
Though I’ve been writing about Nicolas Cage for several years and have been an admitted, though now mitigated, fan, it’s only been in the last year or so that I’ve committed to the concept that I’ll watch any and all of his films. Without the kids’ interest, this might have taken a lot longer to get to, but this one appealed to both of them, though to Felix more than Clara.
I haven’t tried to explain Nicolas Cage to them. I have a hard enough time explaining it to sympathetic adults. And though the kids do understand irony, I think it’s a bit hard for them to understand a guilty pleasure such as Cage is to me.
Based extremely loosely on “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence from Fantasia (1940), which was an animated interpretation of the musical piece itself, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is more of a stab into the Percy Jackson or Harry Potter franchises, these magical fantasy films about a loner kid who discovers that he has a connection to some ancient, super-power magical history plus adventures. In that sense, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is more original, not adapted from an already popular book series. But original is a highly relative term in Hollywood, especially in the realm of films for the kid market.
The film opens with its weakest point, a flashback to over 1000 years ago into a complicated back-story including Cage and Monica Bellucci and Alfred Molina, three magicians fighting the evil Morgana Le Fay, winding up with all but Cage entrapped in a babushka doll, awaiting the birth of the “prime Merlinian” who will be able to defeat Le Fay when the time is right.
Flash forward to 2000 (interestingly 10 years prior to the film’s release…remember when 2000 was the future, not the past?) and a boy gets pulled into a strange shop, and an unchanged Cage awaits, realizes that the boy is his long-awaited ‘prime Merlinian” and is about to begin teaching him when Molina’s villain is released, only to be recaptured again by Cage in a cage that will hold them both for 10 years.
Flash forward again. See? It takes a long while, not only a long while, but a complicated while to get to the point at which the actor who plays the apprentice in the present is actually onscreen. Now he is played by the dweebish/cool Jay Baruchel, who talks like Christian Slater but looks a lot nerdier. He’s had a tough life as a science geek with issues that his prior experience with Cage 10 years earlier led him to.
The adventure ensues on the wings of lot of Michael Bay explosions and action, which makes for entertainment of a certain ilk. Really, it’s not half-bad. It’s hardly dire. Though it’s also not a Cage masterpiece of either irony nor true quality. It’s still probably one of his better films from last year.
Felix did enjoy it. Clara didn’t pay a lot of attention. And I was able to scratch another Cage film from my list and continue my pursuit of his entire oeuvre.