From the makers of the National Treasure franchise comes this adventure-comedy about a sorcerer, Balthazar Blake (Nic Cage) and his hapless apprentice, Dave (Jay Baruchel), who are swept into the center of an ancient conflict between good and evil. Now playing nationwide. Click here for session info.
Disney's latest attempt to cash in on their iconic titles falls somewhere between The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. On the plus side, this Mr Merlin-meets-The Golden Child slice of science and sorcery feels like a throwback to the 1980s heyday of family films (nods to Star Wars and Indiana Jones certainly help with that vibe) albeit with a western rather than an eastern influence.
On the downside, however, the dialogue, especially Cage's, is just a little too arch, Trevor Rabin's (G-Force) bombastic score a little too insistent, and the action follows an all too predictable pattern and formula (it's pretty much Enchanted but without the songs and the perky Amy Adams).
An off-kilter, on-the-edge Cage clearly seems to enjoy his mad Merlin-esque character looking a lot more spritely than he has done on some other recent projects (although the hair and beard make him look like a taller, learner Bill Bailey), while Baruchel's (who just can't seem to shake dragons) distinctively whiny voice and nebbish behaviour makes for an appealing, flawed hero in the mould of Marty McFly or Billy Peltzer. And yes, that Fantasia sequences and those mops do make an appearance.