Disney’s latest attempt to cash in on something old of theirs by using the guys who did National Treasure to make a movie that’s very loosely based on the original. For some, it was a welcomed attempt at reviving a classic while for many others, it was just uncalled for. I myself was hoping to see the nightmarish Chernabog appear at some point in the movie but I’m guessing the writers they hired felt it was better to recycle some unknown fantasy novel they got in a bargain bin somewhere. That’s just an assumption by the way, I have no proof to back that up save for the quality of the writing in the movie.
Let me get the synopsis out of the way so I can get to all the things in the movie that irked me. It’s about a kid named David who thanks to a “coincidence” meets up with a semi-immortal wizard named Balthazar Blake who has been looking for the Prime Merlinean, the chosen one that would one day finally destroy the evil Morgana Le Fay who wants to use an ancient forbidden spell that would revive all the dead evil wizards in the world so she could destroy it or something. Here’s the rundown for ten years later; Dave reunites with childhood crush, reunites with Balthazar, gets caught up in conflict of good vs. evil, chooses to be a wizard, gets closer to his mentor as well as his love interest, goes through some angst, has to choose the girl in a hostage situation, faces off with the big bad and saves the world and the people he’s gotten close to. Was that needlessly spoilery? Maybe. Should you be ashamed that you consider such cookie-cutter content spoilers? Yeah, you should be. This movie is just so horribly,horribly,horribly predictable.
Now onto my other complaints. First one starts right at the beginning of the movie. Someone had the brilliant idea of kicking off with a full blown back-story exposition that was both incredibly corny and ridiculously unnecessary. That scene alone easily killed off half of the potential the scenes had since it took out all the mystery that could have been weaved into the other scene. I can’t tell whether I should put the blame on the director or the writers but it just could have easily been both. Actually, since the director decides how the scenes play out I suppose I should blame Turtletaub for that. The rest of the scenes were either rushed, narmy, annoying, overdone, predictable or a combination of all those. I do have to admit that one or two special effects scenes were just pure awesome(TESLA COILS OF EVIL!) but that does not excuse the poor storytelling.
The characterization too was just awful. Sure the actors they got to play the roles were pretty good at their jobs but the characters themselves were underwhelming, most of them that is. Nicholas Cage’s portrayal of the self proclaimed slightly insane lone wizard who’s been walking the earth fighting off the forces of evil was pretty hammy in my opinion but I guess it’s justified in his case. The worst example was the mandatory love interest who cute and all but she just didn’t pass off as a believable character with her one-dimensional personality. She really should have been saved for the sequel and put more focus on the mentoring aspect. Thankfully, the evil mage Horvath(I’m surprised spell check didn’t redline this) brought every bit of class that was needed to make this film bearable. He’s easily the most likeable character in the film and now that I think about it, received the most characterization out of the entire cast with somewhat sympathetic reasons behind his actions. That wasn’t why I liked him though, it was actually the bowler hat, cane and evil Brit shtick that did the trick.
In conclusion, this movie was one bad decision after another. I groaned very much throughout the film with the exception of the scenes that involved the zappy Tesla coils, Horvath showing off and the magical broom mopping sequence that really could have stood to have been a minute longer. I dread the notion of a sequel if they’re using the same writing team, even if they have Horvath riding Chernabog during an eerily glowing green storm in the middle of the dessert because the writing for this movie shows exactly what’s why movie studios are losing money.
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