It came down to either Inception, or The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (which I keep wanting to spell “sorceror”) — in spite of Nicholas Cage *. After a long weekend of sanding, painting, measuring, sanding, measuring, cutting, nail-gunning and more painting, however, we figured a light, fluffy matinée was called for, so the Disney flick it was!
* You know how he is: he’s alright in some roles (National Treasure and Matchstick Men were great!) but most times he’s just… too much Nick Cage. If that makes any sense. Anyhow, in this movie, he was still too much, but it suited the character, so hurray for good casting.
Actually, on that note, let’s start with casting. Everyone was fantastic. Nerdy physics boy for the apprentice, crazed, slightly creepy dude for the sorceror, smart-cute girl for the love interest, clearly evil villain, and a boobular but otherwise featureless girl for the sorceress. (Sorry Monica Bellucci, but it’s true.) I don’t know who was in charge of casting, but they hit everyone bang-on. There is no room left in your mind as to who is playing what role in this movie.
Archetypes (or stereotypes, perhaps) aside, the acting was pretty good. Nothing earth-shattering, but everyone’s performance was believable and sincere, and everything just kind of… fit. The same can be said for the story progression, although I do feel it leapt ahead a bit towards the end of the movie. The film starts off slow, setting everything up tidily, then speeding up until the audience finds itself hurtling into the muddle and chaos right along with Dave, the apprentice, and it’s fun ride the whole way.
I have to break here to talk a little about the fantastic self-referencing that Disney snuck in. If you’ve seen Fantasia, you will know exactly what I am talking about. In that 1940 classic, one of the very first pieces is The Sorceror’s Apprentice (by Paul Dukas), in which Mickey Mouse, as the pointy-hatted apprentice, gets into a bit of a mess when he tries to enchant the mops and brooms to do his cleaning for him. I have always loved Fantasia and in fact one of the photos I insisted The Boy take of me when we were in Disney World was of me and the enchanted brooms.
Anyway, so in this movie, which obviously borrows from the theme, we still have a stern sorceror, and a somewhat unruly apprentice, but Disney actually nods very tidily to itself by having Dave recreate the whole mop-and-broom mess — complete with Dukas’ music! — in a way that didn’t seem contrived: again, it just fit.
So, we have a straightforward story, good casting, good maintenance of the world, and an awesome nod to a classic film. Really, I’m not sure what more you can really expect of a Disney movie. The special effects were subtle, with the movie relying more on characters’ faces than snazzy CGI, and the soundtrack was pretty good (I was nerdily pleased to hear Jimmy Eat World early on in the movie).
All in, definitely a solid, fun movie. Not a must-see, but if you’re looking for some reasonable happy-ending entertainment, this would be a great choice. 7/9