Skip ahead to 2000. We’re introduced to a highly intelligent child named Dave, who, for lack of a better string of originality, is “the chosen one”. Cue heavily traumatizing moment and then fast forward to modern day.
Child Dave is extremely bright, but still is a kid, grown up Dave is even more brilliant, but clearly is established as the key awkward, “every day guy” type hero.
I have to ask: am I the only one tired of this shtick? Seriously, the “oh look how average I am” gimmick for protagonists has been annoying to me since 2005, so it baffles me that this is still such a hugely popular gimmick in films. I can appreciate trying to break away from the tradition of main characters from cinematic past always being cool or special or everything going their way, so average, fine, but the average guy is not this awkward and uncharismatic and it’s honestly an overly exhausted gimmick that has long outlasted its welcome in my opinion.
Sorry about that, got a little upset for a moment.
The story is pretty fast-paced and doesn’t waste a lot of time with filler; it takes enough time to let the story, characters, backgrounds, events and implications sink in but it doesn’t beat the audience over the head with exposition, so the quick pace of the story-telling is not a negative issue at all as it is handled very tastefully.
So, I can only imagine the issues that come with trying to envision sorcerers in modern day New york; playing up the fantasy origins of sorcerers while giving them a modern day taste is not an easy balance to achieve, but the hair/makeup and wardrobe teams did a terrific job of dropping fantastical characters in a real world environment and making them stand out as special but not at all over the top.
Speaking of over the top: Nick Cage.
He does a very good job in this movie, his over-acting is all but non-existent in this film and he plays the role very seriously. There are some writing conflicts with his character as he flip flops from an emotionally tortured and haunted individual into a bit of a goofball, and then back again. It feels very obvious that multiple writers penned this script but at the end of the day he did a wonderful job of keeping the character as consistent as he could; scenes where the writer clearly was counting on Cage’s trademark over-acting could have been ruined had he gone that route, but instead he kept the character true to the haunted man in anguish that the story is setting him up to be, making the joke parts actually more believable because he kept the character so consistent. A rare, but welcome, case of the actor taking the reins and pumping out something better than the writers had planned on.
The writing did feel conflicted in more instances than just Cage’s character. While the other characters all remain consistent, the cast does suffer from the rushed story-telling. Dave’s development into the main hero is incredibly rushed, it reaches its destination fine, but this is a situation where more exposition and a little more dwelling might have been beneficial. The character of Becky also feels very fake as she’s given such a small time window to meet with Dave, get to know him, and come to grips with what he is and what he’s doing; it’s nice to see a romantic interest in a movie being open and accepting, but this chick just goes with it a little too easily… just saying, I would have been asking a few questions if I were in her shoes.
Being a magical spell-fest, this movie relies heavily on CGI. I an already hear the online cynics whining about CGI and how fake it is blah blah blah well the CGI in Sorcerer’s Apprentice is terrific. every fireball, every creature, it all looks great and like it actually belongs in this world. The budget on special effects was used extremely well for this film, so if you hear a critic saying “oh I could totally tell that the 14 tonne dragon was CGI” give them a smack for me, it’s not Disney’s fault that all the real 14 tonne dragons were booked that month.
The soundtrack was a little disappointing for me. the actual score of original music felt very good, but the sprinkling of pop songs just felt like a cheap attempt to prove to the kids that Disney’s still hip; it honestly felt at times that an exec at Disney just skipped through a dozen songs on their daughter’s iPod and then said “use these songs”.
The small assortment of flaws aside though, the overall story of this film is terrific and is a real treat for audiences to enjoy. It really has nothing to do with the original Sorcerer’s Apprentice, minus a very fun homage midway through the movie, but it was a unique and fun theatrical romp that’s just a lot of fun to watch.