"Sorcerer's Apprentice": Nicolas Cage and Awful Special Effects

| by Hollywood Elsewhere

I'm truly delighted -- really, honestly -- at the prospect of not attending this week's press screenings of Jon Turtletaub and Jerry Bruckheimer's The Sorcerers' Apprentice (Disney, 7.16). Does Bruckheimer assemble his staffers every Monday morning and say, "Okay, guys -- what new movie material can we find that will allow for numerous action scenes with brazenly digital effects that'll look exactly like brazenly digital effects?"

Another Jon Turtletaub hack job/whore move with an extra icing of slick...wonderful. Another reminder that the Jerry Bruckheimer brand of the mid' 90s and early aughts used to mean movies like Crimson Tide and blue-chip, sirloin-steak guy movies (mocking the big-budget action genre and at the same time kicking ass with it), and now it means films that wouldn't be fit to shine the shoes of Con Air or Gone in Sixty Seconds. And another wackazoid, wiggy-haired Nic Cage performance as he seduces, entrances and indoctrinates Jay Baruchel into the world of CG wizardry and car chases and idiotic fireball effects...magnificent.

Repeating: The Rock ('96) was Cage's first big cash-in after the acclaim he received from Mike Figgis' Leaving Las Vegas ('95). He mainly starred in a series of crazy-kat super-salaried extreme action thrillers for the next four or five years (Con Air, Face/Off, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Snake Eyes) with the curious or slight or "meh" punctuations of Bringing Out The Dead, 8MM, and City of Angels.

Then came the disappointing, doleful and disorienting Family Man, Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Windtalkers, followed by two master-stroke performances in Spike Jonze's Adaptation and Ridley Scott's Matchstick Men -- Cage's last artistic glory period ('02 to '03). After this began Cage's full wackazoid streak (broken up only by the National Treasure movies) that continues to this day -- The Wicker Man, Ghost Rider, that Fu-Manchu Grindhouse walk-on, Bangkok Dangerous, Knowing, Bad Lieutenant, Kick-Ass...and now this.