The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Release Date: September 9, 2010
It’s hard to believe the entrancing cartoon that inspired The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was already 35 years old when I saw it for the first time. Mickey Mouse’s battle with magic-crazed mops in Fantasia (1940) was something I remember hoping Disney would repeat every year. But I have to admit that Jay Baruchel doesn’t do a bad job stepping into Mickey’s pointy shoes.
The modernization of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is set in the less than magical city of New York. It revolves around a young Dave Stutler who inadvertently witnesses an epic battle between the magician Balthazar Blake (Nicholas Cage) and his evil nemesis, Hordath (Alfred Molina). However their vanishing inside an ancient jar leaves Dave looking like a boy with a dangerously over-active imagination. Skip forward ten years and Dave has grown into a geeky physics major who is finally beginning to live down the embarrassment associated with his unfortunate day-dream – just in time for Balthazar and Hordath to emerge from their porcelain prison.
With so many children’s movies taking the cartoon route, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is something of a return to what Disney does best: a great live-action romp aimed at the young teen market. There’s great ‘jump’ value with no hint of the sort of violence that might concern parents. The producers clearly had boys in mind when they commissioned the soft-rock soundtrack and gave Balthazar the ability to turn any vehicle into a sports car. And of course there are the expected bodily function jokes when the sorcerer cautions his young apprentice about the perils of the magical world:
Balthazar: “Once you enter there is no going back.”
Dave: “So I should probably pee first?”
Surprisingly, for a world taken with Harry Potter and Twilight storylines, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice doesn’t cut the mystical much slack. This is a film with a decidedly postmodern, post-spiritual perspective. Dave discovers that sorcery is a study that obeys the laws of science like any other. In the original Fantasia Mickey learnt not to meddle with powers that dwarfed him. In The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Dave learns that science can beat sorcery hands-down – proving once again we are smarter than even the most ancient instructors.
Still, if there is one force that both sorcery and science must acknowledge it is love. Balthazar allows it to overturn even his most rigid disciplines: “No-one knows how much time they have with the ones they love. Enjoy it.” Parents won’t be surprised to learn that it is also love that triumphs over the darkest spiritual powers and even undoes a scientifically certain death. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. If, as the Bible says, God is love , who’s to say He can’t move in a way that even science would find impossible to predict?