The live-action update "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," while not wildly inspired or precedent-setting, is imaginative and fun and likely to engage kids 10 and older. It takes into account the original fairy tale/poem by Goethe, the music it inspired by Paul Dukas and the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" section of Walt Disney's "Fantasia" (1940) with Mickey Mouse as the accident-prone wizard-in-training.
What the movie adds is a modern, sometimes cliched, edge, electrically charged special effects and a charming performance by Jay Baruchel as a "physics nerd" and reluctant wizard.
In a prologue we see a battle in ancient Britain between the good magician Merlin and his nemesis Morgana, which sets up the eternal fight between good "Merlinians" and evil "Morganians." Merlin's star pupil Balthazar (Nicolas Cage) remains locked in a struggle with Morgana's pupil Horvath (Alfred Molina), and wanders the world in search of the new "Prime Merlinian," a descendent of Merlin destined to carry on the fight.
Cut to modern times. A fourth-grader named Dave (Jake Cherry) chases a wind-blown note from a girl into a knick-knack shop run by Balthazar and witnesses the harrowing image of Horvath forming out of a swarm of cockroaches. Balthazar stops Horvath and Dave runs off, but not before Balthazar discovers that Dave is the Prime Merlinian, whom he'll one day have to teach the finer points of science and magic. Ten years later Dave (played by Baruchel) is a physics major at NYU. But Horvath and Balthazar are back and they both want Dave, who only wants to forget them, to experiment in his lab and win the heart of Becky, the girl from fourth grade.
The bottom line: There is much kinetic mayhem, but no blood. However, the death and destruction threatened by Horvath and his minions would be chilling for under-10s. A dragon in a Chinatown parade comes to life and breathes fire. The actual classic "Sorcerer's Apprentice" scene in Dave's lab lacks the charm of the Disney imagining, but the mops are amusing and not scary. There is toilet humor.