Unbelievable as it may seem, I’ve actually seen a movie that just came out in theaters.
I knew when I saw the first trailer for this movie that I’d want to see it first-run. I’ve always liked Nicholas Cage (not a fan of this hair, though), and the preview seemed promising. You won’t see Mickey Mouse in the wizard’s robe and starry cap, but there is a definite nod to the famous scene from Fantasia.
For those of you who don’t already know, the basic premise of the story is this:
Balthazar (Nicholas Cage) is a student of Merlin who has spent the last thousand years searching for his teacher’s successor, the “Prime Merlinian”, and finally finds it in Dave Stuttler (Jay Baruchel) — an intelligent, but socially inept tweener. After an initial contact that leaves Balthazar trapped in an urn with baddie Horvath(Alfred Molina) and young Dave publicly humiliated in front of the girl of his dreams, you can imagine how reluctant our young hero is to embark upon the great adventure that is magic. Of course, if Balthazar never got out of the urn, and Dave never became his apprentice, there wouldn’t be much of a movie, would there? So the two team up ten years later to battle various evil wizards and, ultimately, the supreme baddie Morgana Le Fay in order to prevent the end of the world.
Dave is a great blend of geeky/awkward/charming without drifting into annoying. His dream girl, Becky, is as two-dimensional as one might expect for a minor, supporting role, but Dave’s attempts at courtship are fun to watch. Horvath’s apprentice, Drake Stone (Toby Kebbell), is hideously ostentatious (but in an entertaining way). His outfits are a design consultant’s worst nightmare, but he doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time so you aren’t forced to look at them too much. Cage is sufficiently cool without detracting too much attention from the real star of the show, which is Baruchel — don’t let the poster fool you. I’m no expert, but the special effects impressed me — particularly Balthazar’s steely, winged friend and the grim hold. Oh, and Morgan Le Fay is played by none other than Borg queen Alice Krige.
I enjoyed it very much. It’s definitely worth the price of a first-run theater ticket — unlike most movies these days. I’ll be seeing it again when it hits the dollar theater.