One wears a long red cape, speaks with a British accent, and looks hundreds of years ago. The other wears a long leather trench coat, speaks with an American accent (though he was trained by the original Merlin), and looks to be in his 40s (despite actually being hundreds of years old). What Ralph Richardson and Nicolas Cage do have in common, however, is that both played sorcerers with apprentices, Richardson in 1981's Dragonslayer and Cage in this week's The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
Whatever the relative merits of the latter film -- I liked it a bit more than Cinematical's Jeffrey M. Anderson -- it obviously takes a modern-day approach to the subject. Dragonslayer, on the other hand, presents a traditional spin. Ulrich, played by the 78-year-old, classically-trained Richardson, is a renowned magician sought out by a small delegation, led by Valerian (Caitlin Clarke), from a faraway land to kill a dragon. When Ulrich becomes, shall we say, indisposed, his apprentice Galen (Peter MacNicol, in his debut role) steps up. Galen thinks he is up to the task, but he learns the hard way that he still has much to learn.