The Harry Potter knockoffs keep coming, quickly and with more than a tiny hint of desperation. The thought process seems to be: give the people lots of teenagers crossed with the supernatural, and see if you can spread it out over at least three, and possibly eight movies. That's eight times the ticket sales, don'tcha know! So we get goodness knows how many awful Twilight movies. We get the stuffy, dreary Chronicles of Narnia films. We get the stupid Golden Compass. We get Chris Columbus -- the director of the first two Harry Potters -- going back and selling his soul for the dreadful Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. We even get The Last Airbender, which -- heaven help us -- may be the worst of the lot. And there's no telling how many more sequels are still yet to be generated.
At least Disney, for its new ripoff, has gone back to a source that predates Harry Potter: a segment from the classic Fantasia (1940). In that, Mickey Mouse tries to use magic to do his chores, and pays the price as an army of renegade brooms begins to take over and flood the room. The new The Sorcerer's Apprentice cheerfully borrows this idea for one scene, but otherwise gives us a new-ish story. It begins with an oppressively stupid prologue, packed to the gills with exposition and bad writing. In the 8th century Merlin chooses three disciples: Balthazar (Nicolas Cage), Horvath (Alfred Molina) and Veronica (Monica Bellucci). Horvath goes renegade and decides to help the evil sorceress Morgana (Alice Krige) destroy the world.