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Blu-ray Review: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is the live action adaptation of the 1940’s short of the same name that appeared in Fantasia. The film begins in 740 AD where we meet Merlin’s  three apprentices — Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage), Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina), and Veronica Gorloisen (Monica Bellucci). During the fall of Camelot, Horvath joins with Merlin’s mortal enemy Morgan le Fay but Merlin and Blake are able to stop them before they can raise an army of the dead. However before being defeated, Merlin is mortally wounded and le Fey has her soul absorbed by Veronica and then is imprisoned in a nesting doll called the Grimhold.

Merlin grants Blake immortality while tasking him with finding the Prime Merlinian (the person who will inherit Merlin’s powers) as they are the only person who can permanently defeat le Fey. Over the next millennia Blake imprisons Morganians, (sorcerers who try to release Morgana), including Horvath, into new layers on the Grimhold while conducting his search.

 In 2000 Balthazar meets 10-year-old Dave Stutler, and it looks like Blake has found the rightful heir, but as 10-year-olds aren’t very responsible, Dave accidentally releases Horvath. A battle between the rivals ensues doing massive damage before they are imprisoned in an urn, and the damage is undo. Dave loses the Grimhold and thinks the whole incident never happened.

Jump to 10 years later where Dave (Jay Baruchel) is now a physics student at New York University and is about to have some interesting adventures as Blake and Horvath have finally escaped the urn.  They are both looking for Dave as they believe he knows where the Grimhold is and Blake needs Dave to train and fulfill his destiny. Dave follows Blake and starts to learn about being the Prime Merlinian which includes a live action sequence that pays homage to the 1940’s cartoon right down to the music.

From there Dave and Blake must team up to defeat Horvath and the only other Morganian, Drake Stone (Toby Kebbell) who is a flashy Vegas style magician so that le Fey isn’t released back into the world.

The film is 1080p/AVC-encoded and looks visually impressive. The details are spectacular, befitting a movie so dependent on special effects. What really stands out are the blues and reds that are on display when the wizards battle, those particular colors really pop. The black levels are crisp and defined and never wash the actors out.

The 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix is also very impressive; it never overpowers the dialogue, nor interferes with it. You can understand each actor’s lines, and can distinguish each of them.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice comes with a good number of extras:

“Magic in the City” highlights all the action sequences that took place in New York City and includes interviews with the cast and crew who discuss the challenges of filming in the “city that never sleeps.”  

“The Science of Sorcery”  shows how the magical weapons have practical applications and how a scientific POV was used to make the effects work.

“Making Magic Real” is a companion piece to “The Science of Sorcery” where the special effects are discussed and what it took to pull them off. Also included are the cast and crew talking about using rigs to simulate flight, air cannons that were used and more.

“‘Fantasia:’ Reinventing a Classic” talks about the films efforts to outdo the original short starring Mickey Mouse and what special effects it took to bring it to life.

“The Fashionable Drake Stone” features actor Toby Kebbell  and how he patterned his evil magician after the magicians of Las Vegas.

“The Grimhold: An Evil Work of Art” covers how the magical Russian nesting doll was created for the film.

“The Encantus” goes over the combination of digital and actual work that went into creating the sorcerer’s guidebook seen in the film.

“Wolves & Puppies” showcases the animals used in the film, while looking like vicious creatures in the movie, they’d rather be played with and take naps.

“The World’s Coolest Car” highlights the 1935 Rolls Royce Phantom, which is actually owned by Cage and used as Balthazar’s vehicle in the film.

“Deleted Scenes” contain a handful of scenes which were cut for time but at least you can view them now if you wish.

“Outtakes” is your typical collection of crack-ups and line flubs.

The movie is very flashy and nice to look at, but the story is just lacking. I thought Baruchell was great as the apprentice and was the right amount of nerdy geek to play the part. Cage was doing more of his crazy shtick which he’s been doing for a while and while it worked, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. I enjoyed Molina, good guy or bad guy he’s is excellent in whatever role he portrays, but the script needed more than just a loose concept that seemed to fill in as the movie progressed.

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