Much of "The Sorceror’s Apprentice" is cliched, from the stereotypical nerdy high-school kid who suddenly gets superpowers to the pretty blonde girl he gets a crush on to the evil sorceror trying to kill him, but then again, there is some worth to a well-executed cliche, and "Sorceror" manages to be an entertaining popcorn movie despite its near-total lack of originality.
You’ve seen the plot before in "Spider-Man" or maybe "Transformers." A nerdy kid is told he has some special power or object and must defeat the evil genius who’s apparently trying to destroy the world, or maybe just a really big chunk of the world. There’s even a cute girl the nerdy boy falls for, although as usual in movies, she never quite gets enough character development for the audience to understand why he likes her so much. A powerful mentor helps the kid navigate the world of superpowers.
Dave (Jay Baruchel) is the geek. Becky (Teresa Palmer) is the girl. Horvath (Alfred Molina) is the villain.
The standout, though, is the mentor, titular sorceror Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage), who has shiny black shoes, fingerless gloves, sweater arms without the sweater and rather improbable scraggly long hair. After living more than 1,000 years, Blake has become almost unflappable in the face of death and also a little bit, well… eccentric.
Movies need a character like Balthazar to help explain the rules of magic (or superpowers) to the audience. "Sorceror," however, needs Balthazar to provide fun. The special effects in this flick are creative, featuring some clever mirror magic, shape-shifting, telekinesis and elemental control to add some interest, but an action movie really needs a charismatic character in order to be anything but annoying.
And there are a few annoyances in "Sorceror." The Arthurian myth providing some of the film’s backstory doesn’t have the depth and heft it should have had. The love interests fail to make any kind of impression at all and function mostly as window-dressing. The plot is strictly by-the-book.
Fortunately, the movie has enough special effects and Nicolas Cage in it to be reasonably entertaining anyway.