It's as if producer Jerry Bruckheimer, writers Larry Konner & Mark Rosenthal, and director Jon Turteltaub got together and planned to make a winner like their previous "National Treasure" flicks, brought along Nicholas Cage for a leading role, and decided to make something like those flicks, only aimed down at the kids in the audience. Mundane plot dressed up in nonstop flashy effects, spectacular overwhelming music (from Trevor Rabin), zippy camera work (Bojan Bazelli) & lively MTV-type editing (William Goldberg), adding up to a lot of sound & fury
That's about it. Begins in 740AD when the great magician Merlin grants powers to three apprentices - two good, one bad - and therein lies the story, with a passel of good people battling it out (with everything from the special effects crew's bag) in a battle to replace Merlin to either save or destroy the world.
Good guy althazar (Cage as if parodying Gene Wilder in "Chocolate Factory") assigns nerdy kid Dave (Jay Baruchel with an irritating Jerry Lewis nasality) to apprentice, while Horvath (sneering bad guy Alfred Molina) takes on a snotty Brit kid ashisapprentice and the war wages throughout modern NYC - from Broadway to Rockefeller Center to Wall Street to Battery Park to the Chrysler Building - all the while battling with fire, liquids, explosions, smoke bombs, car chases (yes, even a car chase among dozens of yellow cabs), turning inanimate objects into animate (and vice versa) - well, you get the idea; it's all flash, noise & wreckage for no purpose other than to conceal the well-worn plot . Oh, and there's the ubiquitous cute girl that nerd Dave hankers for (Teresa Palmer), the only person who seems to be actually acting.
One amusing scene which parodies the Disney water bucket near-tragedy, with Dukas' music not far behind, lifts the film to another level for about 3-minutes.
So what happens at the end? Guess who wins out, who gets the girl, who becomes the new Merlin
Kids will enjoy it, despite the fact that the philosophical complexities will go way over their heads. (Grade: B-)