Format: Blu-ray + DVD
Directed by: Jon Turteltaub
Written by: Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Matt Lopez, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina, Teresa Palmer, Monica Bellucci
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Review by: Bill Jones
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice immediately brings to mind images and sounds of Mickey Mouse conjuring to life brooms and other cleaning supplies in an effort to save himself some work with his chores. But then things go seriously awry, with the inanimate objects taking on life of their own, and in their zeal turn things into much more of a mess than the Mouse could have ever expected.
That scene helped define Walt Disney’s experimental project Fantasia, and made one of the world’s most iconic characters in the process. In retrospect, it is a perfect example of the character’s playfully mischievous traits, and is an expression of pure fun. In many ways, that would be a great way to describe Disney’s latest live-action extravaganza, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, if only the plot and the actors didn’t sometimes get in the way.
In The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage) is a sorcerer who has been searching for centuries for a young sorcerer who is carrying on the bloodline of the legendary Merlin. He needs this sorcerer to help defend modern-day Manhattan against an ancient evil force. Of course, Dave (Jay Baruchel), a bumbling science geek, turns out to be that guy, and it just so conveniently comes together in time to help with his girl problems, as well.
But the plot isn’t the film’s high-point. In fact, its opening is one of the most overburdening introductions (especially in a film designed for children) seen in a long time. Director Jay Turteltaub tries to roll the film’s ancient mythology in one tight package, and viewers better have their notepads ready if they plan to keep up. After that, it’s rather flimsy, mostly a series of cat-and-mouse battles between Balthazar and Alfred Molina’s Maxim Horvath, while Balthazar tries to keep Dave alive long enough to train him. At the very least, the interactions between Cage and Molina are fun.
Baruchel is at the same time a blessing and a curse to the film, though. He has the timing to deliver many of the film’s well-written punchlines, but not enough sense to ever stop talking or going through the motions of his bumbling physical comedy. It is amusing, but just too much at times, and needs to find more of an ebb and flow in its pacing.
But even with its problems, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice provides what anyone should expect from a Jerry Bruckheimer film – plenty of visual pizazz, some legitimately funny moments and a really cliché plot. The Cage factor is also present, with the actor creating some absurdly entertaining moments of his own. It doesn’t all add up to anything spectacular, but The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is entertaining enough for a night with the family.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Blu-ray includes the film on Blu-ray and DVD. The Blu-ray contains a majority of the special features, which include bits on the special effects, shooting in New York City, the scientific backing of the magic, deleted scenes, outtakes and, of course, recreating the classic scene from Fantasia in live action.
The features are solid, and should appease fans of the film looking for all the nitty-gritty details about how it was made. The high-definition visuals are solid, considering all of the special effects combining with live action, and the surround soundtrack also does a solid job of spreading out the audio landscape. The DVD only contains one featurette, but it is a solid combination of the material presented on the Blu-ray. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is not the most impressive of Disney releases, but offers plenty of material to extend the experience for fans big enough to buy this for home reviewing.
For more info, http://adisney.go.com/disneypictures/sorcerersapprentice
Pads & Panels received a copy of the Blu-ray courtesy of the studio for review purposes.