One of Merlin's apprentices, Balthazar (Cage), has been searching for Merlin's heir for nearly three thousand years, finally locating him in New York City in physics geek Dave (Baruchel). Doubtful but intrigued, Dave learns that Balthazar's ex-colleague Horvath (Molina) is determined to resurrect the evil Morgana (Krige) to destroy humanity. But Dave is badly preoccupied by the fact that the girl (Palmer) he has loved since age 9 is suddenly showing him some interest. Can't this world-saving business wait?
Yes, this essentially means that the likeable Baruchel is playing a live-action version of Mickey Mouse from the classic Fantasia segment, which is recreated here complete with Paul Dukas' memorable music. Baruchel is also typecast as the scrawny nerd in an improbable romance with a hot girl (see also She's Out of My League). Meanwhile, Cage is re-visiting his quirky Kick-Ass character in the way Balthazar coaches Dave in the ways of magic.
But then, it isn't really magic. In an obvious effort to diffuse the American Right, this sorcery is merely someone who can access their whole brain and manipulate the physical world in ways that only seem inexplicable. While this kind of contradicts other elements of the set-up (like the power-giving rings sorcerers wear), it's not quite as mythology-crushing as George Lucas' midi-chlorians. And it might make some kids think science is cool for a few minutes at least.
In the end, the film is slickly made with a sense of pace and energy that holds our interest through the episodic plot. It's basically just a series of corny expository conversations that link together a range of full-on action set-pieces. At least these sequences are pure eye-candy, with first-rate effects work, lively comedy touches and lots of thrills along the way. We never for a split second doubt where the story is going, so there's no suspense at all. Including a trap door left open for a sequel if undemanding audiences lap this up.
Run time: 109 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 14th July 2010
Box Office USA: $63.1M
Box Office Worldwide: $215.3M
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios
Production compaines: Walt Disney Pictures, Jerry Bruckheimer
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 41%
Fresh: 68 Rotten: 97
IMDB: 6.2 / 10
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Starring: Nicolas Cage as Balthazar Blake, Jay Baruchel as Dave Stutler, Monica Bellucci as Veronica Gorloisen, Alfred Molina as Maxim Horvath, Teresa Palmer as Becky, Ethan Peck as Andre, Alice Krige as Morgana le Fay, Peyton List as Young Becky, Toby Kebbell as Drake Stone, Omar Benson Miller as Bennet, Jake Cherry as Young Dave, James A. Stephens as Merlin, Gregory Woo as Sun-Lok
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