This is absolutely the oldest movie on the list* that I have yet to write about, so you can take solace in that fact. This, as every Nicolas Cage movie is, was a must-see in the theater. The Sorcerer's Apprentice marks the seventh straight live-action Nic Cage film that I've seen in the theater. For those keeping track at home, that means I've seen Next (3 times), National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Bangkok Dangerous, Knowing, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans, Kick-Ass, and The Sorcerer's Apprentice during their theatrical release. If you wanted to play a little loose with the rules, you could also add Grindhouse to the mix as he was in the Werewolf Women of the SS trailer, but I take my Cage streak seriously, so I won't.
*As mentioned in the Facebook group--join, fans...
Now I want you to think long and hard about how many straight movies you've seen of an actor or actress in the theater. I've seen four of the last five Matt Damon star-vehicles in the theater, but he's done a couple of cameos that I still haven't seen. That is not the case with Cage.
"Why the love for Nicolas Cage?" some of you joyless bastards may ask. Because every moment he is on screen is fucking sublime. Hell, every minute he's being interviewed is sublime. Case in point (trust me, take the time--Jeremy and Mark would agree):
Back to the movie, though, The Sorcerer's Apprentice is a lot of relatively wholesome fun. It is the third instance in which Jon Turteltaub and Nicolas Cage have teamed up, and just like in the case of the National Treasure films, the finished product is a success. I haven't seen Fantasia since about 1985, so I barely remember the source material that provided the inspiration, but the modernization of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" section of the film seems to have been revamped in good faith.
The element of the film that ultimately makes it work is the student/teacher relationship between Jay Baruchel's character, Dave, and Cage's Balthazar Blake. While Baruchel can be occasionally irritating, Cage's turn as the mentor is rich and a source of many laughs. Both the levity and the gravity come from the person of Balthazar Blake, and in Cage's sure hands all that is necessary is delivered. All of the conflict within the film originates in Blake's past. Cage's ever-present awareness of character imbues the movie with a richness of personal history--the conflict with Alfred Molina's Maxim Horvath, the centuries-old widower's love for Veronica*, all of this falls flat and so does the movie with a lesser actor carrying the weight of the film on his shoulders. Hell, the fact that a movie co-starring Jay Baruchel is thoroughly entertaining is a testament to the acting chops of Nic Cage.
*Although men will probably pine for Monica Bellucci for centuries anyway, so maybe this isn't that great a feat...
Now, yes, the story is as much Dave's as it is Balthazar's, and the apprentice could probably have been cast with another actor who would not have been as irritating to others, but I didn't really have a problem with Baruchel. Sure, he has a slightly off-putting nervous energy in general, but I think it works for the most part.
In the end, this film is good family fun and has one of our generation's finest actors gracing it with his presence. Some may question his selection of roles, but he is just doing what he loves, and I am pretty goddamn glad he is.