Find out what we thought of The Sorcerer's Apprentice after the jump... The Sorcerer's Apprentice (PG)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina, Teresa Palmer
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Running time: 109 minutes
Trailer: Watch it here
The plot: The Sorcerer's Apprentice originated as a 1797 poem by Goethe and is best known as a sequence in Disney animated feature Fantasia. Can a tale about an apprentice and out-of-control magic mops be effectively stretched to a big-budget, full-length feature? In 2000, Dave Stutler is a ten-year-old kid who has a strange encounter in an antiquities shop. Ten years later, the geeky physics student (now played by cute dweeb Jay Baruchel) realises he didn't dream the whole thing up when he re-encounters sorcerer Balthazar (Nicolas Cage). Turns out that Dave is the apprentice foretold by Merlin more than a millennium ago to save mankind from a world-imperilling nemesis Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina)...
What's good about it? There's nothing new about a young man discovering that his unusual powers also bring a burdensome destiny: it's a popular trope not just of current teen fantasy literature (Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Eragon) but also classic comic-books (Spider-Man). In other words it's a winning, endlessly recyclable formula. To prove effective on the big-screen, it needs a sympathetic actor to inhabit the part, who convinces as a fazed youngster struggling to reconcile himself with his abilities, and Baruchel (Tropic Thunder, She's Out Of My League) proves a wise choice.
What's not so good? A romantic sub-plot – Dave has always been sweet on pretty Becky (Teresa Palmer), now a fellow student – is par for the course, but it could have been better integrated into the action. Instead, a stop-go structure sees our hero alternating sorcery training with flirtatious interludes with Becky, plus episodes of jeopardy from Horvath and his celebrity magician sidekick (Prince Of Persia's Toby Kebbell). Dramatic momentum is an inevitable casualty.
Verdict: The Sorcerer's Apprentice is Disney's second big-ticket live-action adventure with mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer this summer, following May's commercial under-performer Prince Of Persia. This one reunites the star (Cage) and director (Turteltaub) of Bruckheimer's National Treasure franchise, and once again mixes family-friendly action with mild humour and CGI spectacle. It's efficiently done, but nothing special.
Rating: 5 out of 10