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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

trailer break: ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’

Take a break from work: watch a trailer…


If there was any doubt after National Treasure and National Treasure: Book of Secrets that director Jon Turteltaub and Nicolas Cage were intent on taking a concept loaded with romance and adventure and old-fashioned Hollywood magic — the case of those films, ancient artifacts and secret societies and archeological awesomeness — and rendering it down into the blandest possible brand of new-fashioned Hollywood pap, this new movie should put that to rest. How is it possible that magic and evil and covert operations and old books and dragons and even cool cars can be made to look so damn dull? Are they actively aiming to remove all sense of actual danger and hence actual adventure from their films?

And I hate to sound like a broken record, but why couldn’t the sorcerer’s apprentice who’s gonna save the world be an ordinary dorky college student who’s a girl? Whose unexpected marvelousness subsequently catches the eye of the most gorgeous guy in Chem 101? Will we ever get a movie like this — a summer tentpole would-be blockbuster that someone lavished $200 million on — that will acknowledge that female human people are good for more than just standing around gazing adoringly at a nerd who happens to stumble into something cool? Could someone please inform Hollywood that girls like doing cool stuff, too, not just watching it from afar?

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice opens in the U.S. and Canada on July 14, and in the U.K. on August 13.



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  • Nate

    If it helps, Salt comes out the following week.

  • RyanT

    I just think the two leads were seriously miscast. Not that I had anyone else in mind, but Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel? Meh. Your version with a girl apprentice would’ve been refreshingly wonderful. So of course, it’s just not happening.

  • Orangutan

    Is it just me, or does Baruchel sound like he’s doing a bad Christian Slater impression the whole time?

  • Alli

    The newest Harry Potter trailer comes out at 7pm Est tonight. Just saying…

  • If it helps, the Harry Dresden books–of which this movie is such an obvious rip-off–has a girl apprentice. As well as various adult women fighting on behalf of the Right. You need to stop all those Stephenie Meyer books, MaryAnn, and read some of Jim Butcher’s books for a change. ;-)

    Of course, like sci-fi, where fantasy was a decade or two ago, the movies are just now getting to. So what else is new?

  • Correction: You need to stop reading all those Stephenie Meyer books, MaryAnn, and read some of Jim Butcher’s books for a change. ;-)

    Freudian slip in the previous post unintentional.

  • Orangutan

    Big time seconding Tonio here, I’m re-re-reading the Dresden books right now. Just started Small Favor today. The TV show really did not do it justice.

    Could also try Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, though it gets a little high on the DRAMA!! scale in later books…

  • Will we ever get a movie like this — a summer tentpole would-be blockbuster that someone lavished $200 million on — that will acknowledge that female human people are good for more than just standing around gazing adoringly at a nerd who happens to stumble into something cool? Could someone please inform Hollywood that girls like doing cool stuff, too, not just watching it from afar?

    I agree that we need more of this, and it sometimes feels like we don’t get any at all. But there have been at least some women-centered big-budget films, haven’t there? Tomb Raider, Underworld, Kill Bill, Aliens come to mind. Not to mention the would-be blockbusters that flopped: Catwoman, Electra, etc. The portrayal of women in some of those films may have been problematic for other reasons, but none of those characters were passive bystanders. And although many probably didn’t see the Pirates films primarily for Elizabeth Swann, I think she was at the heart of the story and far more than an observer: another reason I think those films rocked. (As for female nerds doing nerd stuff: we need more movies like Contact.)

    Anyway, yes, more female central characters doing cool stuff, please.

  • Dokeo

    There was a recent movie with a strong female protagonist, which also made a pile of money — Alice in Wonderland. I seem to be the only person anywhere near this site that liked it, but just think about it for a minute!

    P.S. My husband suggests Terminator 2.

  • Lynn

    My first reaction (after ‘what a waste of money’ and ‘Nick Cage is in *another* comic flop?’), was that this was the Books of Magic adaptation that had strayed so far off the rails Gaiman asked that it not be called that anymore.

    Not familiar with the Dresden series, maybe I should check it out.

  • bracyman

    I’m as big a fan of Dresden as you’re likely to find. I actually liked the TV series, for pete’s sake. But the only way that series is going to receive justice is by merging the noir narration of old school detective films with the serial continuity of ’24’. One novel a season, but you’d be able to move the focus off Harry and hand Murphy or the Alphas more story.

    I’d watch it even just for scenes where the dog is the main character. But I doubt you could sell the idea of a hard-bitten detective who pays glowing, six-inch fairy informants with pizza.

  • MaryAnn

    One movie with a female protagonist that made a bunch of money does not make up for the 95 percent of Hollywood movies that feature male protagonists. A book series with a female character does not make up for the 95 percent of Hollywood movies that feature male protagonists. A list of a few movies from across 20 years with female protagonists does not make up for the 95 percent of Hollywood movies that will feature male protagonists this year.

  • Victor Plenty

    Jay Baruchel deserves a shot at bigger and more varied roles, after the great voice work he did for the lead role in How to Train Your Dragon, even if I can’t really defend anything else about this movie in particular.

    And even if I’d also love to see more movies with female protagonists who get to do cool stuff.

  • A list of a few movies from across 20 years with female protagonists does not make up for the 95 percent of Hollywood movies that will feature male protagonists this year.

    Of course. As I said, I agree that we need more women-centered films. Much more.

    Since you asked “Will we ever get [a big-budget summer movie with a female protagonist],” I just wanted to acknowledge some instances when we did. I’m a fan of accuracy, is all. There’s a difference between mostly dead and all dead. :-)

  • Elle

    That’s not what Maryann asked, though. She asked “why couldn’t the sorcerer’s apprentice who’s gonna save the world be an ordinary dorky college student who’s a girl?”

    The movies listed do feature women, true, but they feature women in tight clothes doing juijitsu* and being too cool for everyone around them. This comes back to the male gaze thing. Girls only get to save the world if they’re hot. Guys save the world even if they’re dorky and clumsy.

    *=Yeah, it’s usually not juijitsu, but insert popular martial art at the time here.

  • gensing

    Is it just me, or does this looks like a they took the trailer for ‘Wanted’ and changed the voices?

    I really liked Wanted, but this doesn’t look to have the subversive humor Wanted did (if the pointy-shoe joke is indicative of the type of humor we have to look forward to)

    As for MAJ’s quest – the closest I’ve ever seen to that is the original “Hairspray”… hardly saving the world, but she’s cool and gets the guy.

  • Brian

    I’m just pissed because they’re using clips from the original Fantasia in the TV commercials. I thought they were announcing a theatrical re-release of Fantasia, or at least the Blu-Ray release. Then they bait-and-switch with this tripe. Zero interest.

  • This comes back to the male gaze thing. Girls only get to save the world if they’re hot. Guys save the world even if they’re dorky and clumsy.

    I see. Point taken.

  • MaryAnn

    Jay Baruchel deserves a shot at bigger and more varied roles, after the great voice work he did for the lead role in How to Train Your Dragon, even if I can’t really defend anything else about this movie in particular.

    I agree. I like him a lot, and he’s got a lot of talent and screen presence.

    But he ends up being yet another reminder of the wide range of physicality that men are allowed to represent onscreen. That’s not *his* fault, and I hope he has a nice long career. But where are the talented and charismatic and appealingly goofy women actors headlining major Hollywood movies?

    Even the few movies with the hot women allowed to do cool things don’t approach the likes of this movie. Either they’re made with much smaller budgets, or the women are part of ensembles and are not the central protagonists. Yes, Elizabeth Swan is awesome, yes, Hermione Granger is awesome, yes, Princess Leia is awesome… but no one would say that that *POTC* or *Harry Potter* or *Star Wars* are *their* stories.

  • Brian

    But where are the talented and charismatic and appealingly goofy women actors headlining major Hollywood movies?

    Funny, I was just watching some clips of the old Carol Burnett Show and thinking, “where are the Carol Burnetts of today?”

    The trouble is that the major Hollywood tentpole summer productions were long ago infantilized and aimed squarely at adolescent boys, and the conventional wisdom* says that the adolescent boy demo isn’t interested in seeing female protagonists. As long as that mantra keeps making money, the risk-averse studio suits will keep hammering away. (Then again, maybe we’re seeing that start to crack with a few notable flops this summer.)

    *i.e., “lazy rationale”

  • RogerBW

    Hoboy, looks like someone had a bunch of ILM “water effect” gift vouchers to use up.

    But there’s a very simple reason why this couldn’t have been about “the sorcerer’s apprentice who’s gonna save the world” [as] “an ordinary dorky college student who’s a girl”: male self-inflicted crotch hits are always and everywhere funny, amirite? Guys? Guys?

    I don’t see this general problem being solved until cheaper films can get out to a wide audience. The more money is needed, the more the people lending the money want to sand off anything “risky”.

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