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The Films of Jon Turteltaub

Think Big

Driving Me Crazy

3 Ninjas

Cool Runnings

While You Were Sleeping

Phenomenon

Instinct

Disney's The Kid

National Treasure 1 & 2

Click here for reviews.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice (October 3/10)

Inspired by an episode within Disney's Fantasia, The Sorcerer's Apprentice follows dorky college student Dave (Jay Baruchel) as he finds himself caught up in a centuries old battle between two magicians - one good (Nicolas Cage's Balthazar Blake) and one bad (Alfred Molina's Maxim Horvath). There's little doubt that The Sorcerer's Apprentice fares best in its opening half hour, as filmmaker Jon Turteltaub does a nice job of setting up the various characters and the admittedly outlandish nature of their exploits. Baruchel's appealing performance is matched by Cage's expectedly idiosyncratic turn as Balthazar, while Molina is certainly quite effective as the movie's sinister villain. And although the film's midsection does seem to be bogged down with a series of increasingly needless training sequences, Turteltaub does a nice job of buoying the viewer's interest by offering up several entertaining stand-alone sequences (ie Dave's encounter with a cocky mugger). It's only as the narrative chugs into its special effects-laden final third that The Sorcerer's Apprentice starts to become a disappointingly repetitive and flat-out dull piece of work, as the film is slowly but surely dominated by progressively over-the-top action set pieces that ultimately drain the viewer's interest and enthusiasm. The end result is a watchable endeavor that does seem to have been designed to appeal primarily to small children, with the engaging performances generally preventing the movie from sinking into all-out tedium.

out of


Last Vegas (November 10/13)

Directed by Jon Turteltaub, Last Vegas follows four friends (Michael Douglas' Billy, Robert De Niro's Paddy, Morgan Freeman's Archie, and Kevin Kline's Sam) as they arrive in Las Vegas for a bachelor party - with the movie, for the most part, detailing the wacky shenanigans that inevitably ensue. There's little doubt that the almost excessively conventional premise is, at the outset, utilized to better-than-expected effect, with the strength of the various performances, coupled with the actors' palpable chemistry together, going a long way towards cultivating a surprisingly watchable atmosphere. It's just as clear, however, that Last Vegas begins to run out of steam shortly after the central foursome arrive in Vegas, as scripter Dan Fogelman has peppered the midsection with a series of sitcom-like scenarios that effectively suck the energy right out of the proceedings. (Ranking high among the lowlights are a bikini-judging sequence and a trip to a popular nightclub.) The surfeit of silly interludes slowly-but-surely renders the film's few positive attributes moot, and it goes without saying that the third-act emphasis on sentimental elements fares especially poorly (ie it's hard to take these characters seriously following the cartoonish bent of the movie's first half). And while there are a few admittedly poignant moments peppered in the movie's final stretch (eg a supporting character laments her advanced age), Last Vegas ultimately establishes itself as a meaningless vanity project that squanders the abilities of its very talented stars.

out of

© David Nusair