Nicolas Cage gives two types of performances these days: Either he’s off-the-wall crazy, or he’s sleepwalking through entire films. Unfortunately, his performance in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice falls squarely in the latter category, without even a little bit of the endearing weirdness that can make his appearances in bad movies worth watching.
And this is just another loud, pointless Jerry Bruckheimer production, with Cage smirking his way through perfunctory action sequences. He plays an ancient immortal sorcerer, introduced via a tedious expository opening sequence, who’s spent most of his life waiting for the most overused of sci-fi/fantasy tropes, a Chosen One. That designated world-savior turns out to be a college physics nerd named Dave (Jay Baruchel), who naturally doesn’t quite take to sorcery at first, and is more interested in his dream girl (Teresa Palmer) than in casting spells.
It all proceeds exactly how you’d expect it to, with a handful of fun moments thanks to Alfred Molina as the harbinger of evil and Toby Kebbell as his Criss Angel-like henchman, and a few nifty special effects. But this is a cobbled-together production based entirely on Disney’s ownership of a copyright (the famed “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence from Fantasia, with Mickey Mouse facing down mops brought magically to life, is re-created awkwardly and unnecessarily with Dave), and its parts are assembled from various other Bruckheimer films, including the Cage-starring National Treasure movies and, of course, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Baruchel, a Judd Apatow favorite, is whiny and bland as Dave, and Cage lets his hair do most of the acting. The ending leaves just enough room open for a sequel, another empty time-waster for summer a year or two hence.