'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' (2-Disc Blu-ray / DVD)
(Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina, Toby Kebbell, et al / 2-Disc Blu ray+DVD / NR / 2010 / Disney DVD)
Overview: Magic is everywhere in Disney's The Sorcerer's Apprentice-the fun family adventure from the creators of National Treasure. Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage) is a modern-day sorcerer with his hands full defending Manhattan against dark forces. When a seemingly average kid shows hidden potential, Balthazar takes his reluctant recruit on a crash course in the art and science of magic to become the ultimate sorcerer's apprentice. Experience more extraordinary thrills, heart-stopping action and spectacular special effects than you can imagine as these unlikely partners show us that the real world is far more magical than we ever knew!
Blu ray+DVD Verdict: This is a lighthearted take on an epic story of good and evil, that draws upon Arthurian legend to tell the story of a physics geek who's fated to save the world from an ancient evil.
Of course, since this is also a coming of age story aimed at teenagers, what he wants most is just to redeem himself from an embarrassing childhood nightmare, and win a date with the beautiful blonde girl he's always had a crush on.
There is a dark undercurrent to the backstory, of evil sorcerers bent on necromancy, who care little for the human lives that get in the way of their ambition. Their effect, though, is to give an urgency to the story. Appropriately, in a movie pitched at kids and teens, they feel more like the classic Disney villains, likable rogues you love to loathe, than like genuine incarnations of evil.
It's fun, for what it is. The film reminded me a lot of a tamer version of Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant. Still, it never feels quite like the epic struggle of good and evil it's made out to be. There's none of the gravity, say, that you feel in the Harry Potter movies. The most obvious problem is that the "apprentice" never really has a chance to be the apprentice.
Things happen too quickly, and the film tries to collapse too much of the development into a "ten years later" title card. It could have been something like Karate Kid with dark magic - where you really felt the development, where in spite of being an awkward charmer it wasn't obvious he'd get the girl, there were ups and downs in the relationship, and you had a much clearer sense of the difficulty and extent of the magical training.
A few minutes of montage, that represents maybe a few hours' worth of training, is not enough to make credible the difficulty and danger of this kid's situation.
Still, the film is great fun to watch. It's escapist fantasy. It looks good, it's lighthearted action adventure that looks good. Nick Cage is perfect as Balthazar - cocky, eccentric, but not so eccentric as to steal the show. Jay Baruchel manages to channel the right balance of geeky awkwardness and charm. Alfred Molina's not quite as unhinged here as in Spiderman II - but he's always fun to watch in the role of a witty vilain.
This isn't on the scale of something like Pirates of the Caribbean, but if you think of this as a bigger budget version of some of the classic teenage mad science or magical comedies that Disney used to do, you won't be disappointed. Young children old enough not to be traumatized by a few scary moments are likely to love it. [NA] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
“Magic in the City” Featurette (13 mins.)
“The Science of Sorcery” Featurette (11 mins.)
“Making Magic Real” Featurette (12 mins.)
“Fantasia: Reinventing a Classic” Featurette (11 mins.)
“The Fashionable Drake Stone” - Interview with actor Toby Kebbell (2 mins.)
“The Grimhold: An Evil Work of Art” - Interview with the Production Designer (4 mins.)
“The Encantus” featurette (3 mins.)
“Wolves & Puppies” Featurette (4 mins.)
“The World’s Coolest Car” Featurette (2 mins.)
5 Deleted Scenes
Outtake Reel (3 mins.)
Trailers: Tron: Legacy, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, and Alice in Wonderland (1951).