From the opening credits, my doubts started to be justified. There are six different screenwriters attached to this film. That is rarely a good sign. It is an even worse sign when there is a very dense ten-minute voice-over prologue explaining about a half-hour worth of material. It almost became laughable how many plotpoints were glossed over with too little explanation. Before I could ask basic questions like “Wait, why did Monica Bellucci take the evil Morgana’s soul and put it in her own body?” and “Why didn’t Nicolas Cage use his prison thing earlier on Morgana?” we’re transitioned to almost present day.
Yes, almost present day because it’s time for another prologue. At the end of the first prologue, Nicolas Cage’s Balthazar is left to roam the earth to find the magical descendent of Merlin. After hundreds of years, he finally finds the apprentice in New York City when he finds young Dave. Young Dave stumbles upon Balthazar after ditching his field trip to chase down a love note from his classmate that was caught in the wind.
So young Dave is destined to be the best hero ever and proves this by touching the unbreakable prison and releasing the evil Horvath (Alfred Molina) back into the world. A magical fight breaks out and Balthazar traps himself and Horvath into another prison that lasts for ten years. Young Dave is confused and nobody believes all of the crazy stuff that happens so he grows up insecure.
Ten years later young Dave is now Jay Baruchel. He’s obsessed with physics and Tesla coils and still has a crush on Becky, the one that got away. Oh no Balthazar is out of his prison and he wants to train Dave to become…the sorcerer’s apprentice so they can defeat Morgana and Horvath because putting them back into the prison is obviously not an option.
This is when everything just stops making sense. The movie has a great tone to it and a lot of the magical scenes are really inventive, but there are an insane number of plotholes to this film. It goes beyond just questioning majority of the actions, but during one scene a car is destroyed and then it reappears again later. The film constantly forgets which characters know what pieces of information. For example, young Dave never saw the sorcerer’s how-to book when he was a kid so how can he comment on its size in the present? That could be nitpicking, but it’s not nitpicking when the movie forgets that the audience already knows most of the reveals in this movie because we watched the stupid prologue.
There are tokens of really great ideas in this film and I can’t decide which screenwriters to give award credit. There is great idea of realizing magic is the evolution of science. There is a wonderful scene when Dave listens to Becky’s radio show for the first time and noticing that music and science have these intertwining properties. That scene is lessened when it’s almost literally repeated when Dave tries to be romantic with Becky.
This movie was so close to being a really fun ride but its script destroys any chance for a recommendation. I do hope it makes money because if they keep their screenwriters to only two max, there could be a really strong sequel from this material.