Sunday, March 20, 2011

NIC CAGE MONTH: The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010)

Director: Jon Turtletaub
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina

Today’s movie is called The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, or alternately, Nic Cage Needs Money. It’s a very loose remake of one of the segments of Fantasia, and I do mean loose. I mean, how many times did you look at this:


…and think, hey, I really think this would be improved if they added Nicolas Cage in there!


Never? Well, that’s because you have a functioning brain. Let’s get this over with quick.

The movie opens with epic music and a riveting tale about how Merlin had three apprentice sorcerers he trusted with his secrets – among them Nicolas Cage, who plays a guy named Balthazar. Apparently in medieval times they were all fighting against Morgana Lefay (because there’s nothing else to do in medieval times) when one of the other sorcerers, Horvath, betrayed them and went to her side. The narration says that there is one person called the Prime Merlinean who will be able to stop her. The Prime Merlinean? Really? That sounds like the name of some weird mathematical tool. So yeah, apparently the female sorcerer, Veronica, traps Morgana Lefay’s soul inside herself, except then Morgana Lefay starts killing her from the inside, like some viral form of the alien from Alien.

Like that except less bloody. That's not Disney-friendly.

So Cage has to trap them both inside a statue thing called the Grimhold, or better yet, Incredibly Forced Plot Device. He then spends the next thousand years wandering around to different countries searching for this Prime Merlinean to help defeat Morgana Lefay, who apparently will get out someday, or something. How come he can’t just perform some other Deus Ex Machina spell to get rid of her for good? Because…well, it’s Nic Cage, do you even have to ask? He probably spent his time searching for the Prime Merlinean by doing this to random people on the streets:


We then immediately cut to a Buzz Lightyear alarm clock, a little kid with a dog and his mom screaming at him to wear clean underwear. That fits in with the epic medieval sorcery we just saw five seconds ago, right?

So this is our main kid Dave. He likes to engage in such hobbies as drawing on the bus windows in permanent marker only so when the bus passes the empire state building for 3 seconds, it looks like King Kong is climbing it. That’s…really lame. He apparently likes this girl in his class named Becky, who he passes a note to with two boxes asking if she wants to be either his friend or his girlfriend. She checks off one of the boxes and puts the paper down, only for it to blow away in a very convenient gust of wind. He chases it down, but we all know that she really wrote in a third option that just said “Get me out of this movie ASAP.”

He eventually ends up at the most littered street in the city that happens to be in front of a magic shop. He goes in and immediately knocks over and breaks a ton of priceless artifacts. But it’s OK. Nic Cage dressed up in a black coat and a pointy sorcerer’s hat (I know…) comes out and tells Dave to follow him to a dark corner, then using magic to lock all the doors in the building. Apparently he’s going to give him this dragon ring thing that, if it works, means he is the chosen one, that Prime Merlinean from before. So how does he know to test this kid? Is it like, “Please try it? I’ve asked EVERY OTHER person who’s ever come in here and none of them were ever the chosen one!” I mean, talk about desperate. Cage says something about it being because he’s a bad liar, but how is that a criterion? By that logic, you could just as easily determine the chosen one by what color socks he’s wearing! Or by how many times he's survived having his face cut off and replaced with John Travolta's. That would be a trial of even the strongest man's mortal will.

Surviving a hammy Travolta performance? Even more trying than the MOST DANGEROUS OF QUESTS Merlin could think up!

But seriously, Nicolas Cage as a sorcerer? Hold on while I laugh my ass off! He looks hungover for most of this. But then, can you really blame him? Nic Cage tells him to stand still and not touch anything while he presumably goes to drink more Vodka, so the kid does the logical thing, and sets loose the EEEEVVVVIIIILLL Horvath from the statue thing by accident. Damn kids always letting loose those evil sorcerers who never age and who will remember your name for eternity if you piss them off. No respect for their elders, these kids today.

So they have a big fight and Dave runs outside with the statue and throws it across the street randomly as his teacher comes up and scares him. The building is now empty and Nic Cage and Horvath are both inside the statue again, inexplicably. Dave has a fit of terrible acting on the steps, and everyone makes fun of him for 10 years for it. Should have taken some acting classes, kid.

Yes, we then fast forward 10 whole years and Dave is a nerdy college kid with an annoying voice and no great improvements in acting talent. He talks to his black roommate (because the movie needed one black kid in order to not be completely racist) who tells him that he has to be one of the wolf pack, or else he’ll get eaten by a bear.


Not that kind of bear!

So, yeah, ten years to the day (…yeah, really) and he meets up with that girl he tried to ask out and runs back into Horvath all at the same time. Convenient enough for you yet? I especially like how Horvath is just randomly released in front of the two old farts that came across the jar. The looks on their faces pretty much sum up the whole movie: Slight bewilderment but mostly a sense of condescending annoyance. Dave somehow hits it off with the girl by…well, probably by brainwashing her in a scene they cut out of the movie. There’s no other explanation. I mean, he DOES have magical powers, and he can't get a girl any other way, so I don't think this is too big of a logical leap.

We also get the reappearance of Nic Cage, who flies in on a big metal eagle-shaped scrap heap and saves Dave’s life from Horvath. He then trains Dave in the world of magic. Dave sucks at it, but to be fair, Nic Cage at least isn’t shooting him in the chest as preparation this time, so I think Cage is at least improving a bit on the teaching front. Although maybe shooting this kid a few times wouldn’t hurt anything. Meanwhile, Horvath recruits a famous TV magician who he says is the only follower of Morgana left around. The kid pretty much looks like something Dir En Grey would shit out:

Is there ANY DIFFERENCE?

So Dave starts hooking up with that Becky chick again as Nic Cage teaches him about magic. I still can’t get over that; Nicolas Cage teaching magic? Maybe when he’s really high. The kid reenacts that famous scene from Fantasia; you know, the one with the animated brooms. It’s pretty much the only real way this movie is connected to the original Fantasia, and it’s pretty forced. But I guess it could have been worse. We could get an even whinier, even more sad-eyed performance from Dave…oh, wait, spoke too soon. You know, listening to this kid whine, I’m starting to think he should have been shipped off to military school. He really, really does need some fucking humility slapped into him. “Ooh, I can’t go out with the only girl who ever lowered herself to give me a chance! MY LIFE IS MISERY even though my companion is a sorcerer who has been searching a thousand years for me and has probably seen more suffering and pain than I can ever imagine!” Deserving of a slap in the face right there!

And seriously, Becky is his true love? She’s an elementary school crush, kid!

OK, so moving on; Dave has to give up the dragon ring that lets him use his magic powers as well as the statue to Horvath when he kidnaps Becky. Nic Cage forgives him as he would have done the same thing, and Dave has to tell Becky about what is really going on. He starts off in the worst way possible by saying that he is a sorcerer and can do spells. Of course, she believes it without questioning anything at all. To be fair, she has just seen a lot of really weird, unexplainable events, but still, if some guy told me he could do spells, I’d probably assume he had just been playing too much D&D.

For fun, let’s gauge the reactions of a normal human being versus this movie’s extreme liberties taken with suspending disbelief:

NORMAL GIRL: You just told me you’re a sorcerer and that you can do magic spells. Excuse me while I move over here to the phone…I’m certainly NOT calling the mental institution to come pick you up…*smaller voice* Please don’t kill me…

MOVIE GIRL: You’re a sorcerer and you can do spells? AWESOME, LET’S GO DRIVE AROUND!

So yeah, then Dave has the brilliant idea to fight magic with science, as he calls his roommate to come help him set up some Tesla coils to stop the bad guy. His roommate does so even though he’s in the middle of a date…because I guess the kid is Dave’s bitch and will do anything he says. Convenient to have those friends with nothing better to do than run around at your beck and call!

Then we get the BIG FINAL BATTLE, where Morgana Lefay has been released after all and is making a big old ring of fire in the sky. Dave tells Becky to go to the top of this satellite tower and knock it off its course so the ring of fire will not be completed. Yeah, the big Deus Ex Machina this time is just…knocking a satellite a little bit to the left. I guess you can’t accuse them of being unoriginal…meanwhile, at the big battle, Nic Cage is killed. Dave kills Morgana Lefay with his best Kamehameha wave…

Still better than Dragonball Evolution...

…but Nic Cage is still dead. A good character dead in a Disney movie? Like hell! Dave resurrects him in some stupid way and everything is happy again! Dave and Becky go riding off into the night on the big scrap heap eagle thing and Dave says that he doesn’t know how to land it. Becky laughs, and then the credits start to roll. Which is an odd way to end a movie, isn’t it? I mean what happens after that? My guess is this:

DAVE: No…no, really, I don’t know how to stop. We’re going to crash into the Atlantic Ocean. Oh, God, I’ve wasted my life! Somebody save us! Can we make out one more time before we land? What’s that? You hate my guts for getting you into this mess and you could have been doing something actually worthwhile with your life otherwise? Oh, God, here it comes…AAHHHHHHHHHH….*splat* Blrbrbrbblrb….

Yeah, this was stupid. I mean I guess it wasn’t horrible or anything, but it was just so clichéd and so soulless in nearly every aspect that it was just dull. The characters weren’t interesting, with only Nic Cage being even slightly enjoyable to watch, the story was just phoned in, and the connection to Fantasia was shaky at best. Of all the teen fantasy flicks you could have watched…this isn’t one of the good ones.

None of these images are mine. They're all copyright of their original owners.