Review in a Hurry: It's some kind of magic. Against many odds, a big-budget Jerry Bruckheimer remake—of a story best known with Mickey Mouse in the lead!—manages to hit every mark and gives us a rare blockbuster that should please viewers of all types.
The Bigger Picture: Contrary to popular belief, the story of a hapless wizard's assistant who misguidedly brings broomsticks to life doesn't originate with Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe first wrote it as a poem in 1797. So it really isn't as blasphemous as some may think to have Jay Baruchel follow in Mickey's footsteps as a physics student named Dave, or that the long-bearded sorcerer Yensid (Disney spelled backward) has been replaced by Nicolas Cage as Balthasar Blake, an apprentice of Merlin's who is destined to remain immortal until he can find the legendary magician's true heir.
But Blake is not the only one, either: other Merlin protégées roaming the streets of New York include Veronica (Monica Bellucci) and the malevolent Horvath (Alfred Molina), who now serves Merlin's arch-foe Morgana and who plans to destroy the world somehow (where he'll live after said destruction is never really discussed). And it's best not to ask how three disciples of Merlin from Ye Olde England all have such divergent accents; you might as well wonder why Cage's hairpieces rarely look convincing. They are what they are.
Obviously, Dave is the chosen one, or "Prime Merlinean," but saving the world occasionally proves less important than trying to get the girl, childhood crush Becky Barnes (Teresa Palmer). It's in the service of getting cleaned up for a date that we get the famous broom scene and the familiar music that goes along with it.
While we Cageophiles have been anticipating yet another over-the-top Nic fit, this is really Baruchel's movie. Sweetly awkward without being obnoxious, and decent looking without being a Hollywood himbo, he's a guy you want to root for, especially since his character delivers the best onscreen incentives for studying physics you've ever seen.
The kids will dig the CG dragons and Street Fighter-style fireball fights. moms will enjoy the romantic comedy aspects, Bruckheimer fans get their fill of car crashes with crazy Cage and foreign/indie film aficionados at least have Molina and Bellucci to enjoy.
Granted, there is nothing especially deep about The Sorcerer's Apprentice, so those who prefer their movies with lots of subtext will be out of luck. But if you're looking for enjoyable cinematic candy, pack your toothbrush, because this is one sweet ride.
The 180—a Second Opinion: The introductory flashback sequence set in medieval times, full of annoying filters and excessive narration, is unnecessary and insulting to the viewer's intelligence. If you walk in on the movie five minutes late, you may be the better for it.