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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 20, 2010 by  



Everything you come to expect from a Jerry Bruckheimer produced film and Blu-ray release…  Magnificent PQ, AQ and numerous special features.  But with that being said, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” film is not meant to be taken seriously.  It is purely an visual effects and action-driven popcorn flick that doesn’t aspire to be anything deep.  Just sit back, watch and enjoy!

Images courtesy of © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

DURATION: 109 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/240bit), English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested – For Fantasy, Action, Violence, Some Mild Rude Humor and Brief Language)

Release Date: November 30, 2010

Directed by Jon Turteltaub

Screen Story by Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Matt Lopez

Screenplay by Matt Lopez, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard

Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer

Executive Producer: Nicolas Cage, Todd Garner, Norman Golightly, Chad Oman, Mike Stenson, Barry H. Waldman

Production Executive: Ben Haber

Development Executive: Brigham Taylor

Music by Trevor Rabin

Cinematography by Bojan Bazzeli

Edited by William Goldenberg

Casting by Ronna Kress

Production Design by Naomi Shohan

Art Direction by David Lazan, David Swayze

Set Decoration by George DeTitta, Jr.

Costume Design by Michael Kaplan

Starring:

Nicolas Cage as Balthazar Blake

Jay Baruchel as Dave

Alfred Molina as Maxim Horvath

Teresa Palmer as Becky Barnes

Toby Kebbell as Drake Stone

Omar Benson Miller as Bennet

Monica Belluci as Veronica

Alice Krige as Morgana le Fay

Jake Cherry as Young Dave

James A. Stephens as Merlin

Gregory Woo as Sun-Lok

Peyton List as Young Becky

A fun, modern-day adventure follows Dave (JAY BARUCHEL), just an average college student, or so it appears, until the sorcerer Balthazar Blake (NICOLAS CAGE) recruits him as his reluctant protégé and gives him a crash course in the art and science of magic. As he prepares for a battle against the forces of darkness in modern-day Manhattan, Dave finds it is going to take all of the courage he can muster to survive his training, save the city and get the girl as he becomes THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE.


Sharpening the Magic

Car Chase

Becky Finds Out

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” was originally a poem by Goeth known as “Der Zauberlehrling” written back in 1797 and was popularized in 1940 courtesy of Walt Disney via the animated film “Fantasia”.

Flashforward 60-years later and producer Jerry Bruckheimer (“National Treasure” films, “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, “The Pirates of the Caribbean” films), executive producer/actor Nicolas Cage (“National Treasure” films, “Con Air”, “The Rock”) and director Jon Turteltaub (“National Treasure” films, “The Kid”, “While You Were Sleeping”) have taken on the project of remaking “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” for the modern age, with incredible visual effects and an action-paced storyline.

The film features a screenplay by Matt Lopez (“Race to Witch Mountain”, “Bedtime Stories”, “The Wild”), Doug Miro (“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”, “The Uninvited”) and Carlo Bernard (“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”, “The Uninvited”), cinematography by Bojan Bazelli (“Mr. & Mrs. Smith”, “The Ring”, “Burlesque”) and music composed by Trevor Rabin *”The Guardian”, “Get Smart”, “G-Force”, “Race to Witch Mountain”).  The film would be budgeted at $150 million and would earn $215 million in the box office and will now be released on Blu-ray (Blu-ray+DVD and Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy) and DVD.

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” begins in 740 AD.  The sorcerer Merlin had three apprentices: Maxim Horvath (played by Alfred Molina, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Spider-Man 2”, “Chocolat”), Balthazar Blake (played by Nicolas Cage) and Veronica Gorloisen (played by Monica Belluci, “The Matrix” films, “Shoot ’em Up”) to take on the evil sorceress Morgana le Fay (played by Alice Krige).   Morgana wants to destroy the world by resurrecting the dead under her power but as Merlin the Apprentices are about to stop her, one of their own, Horvath betrays Merlin by allowing Morgana to mortally wound Merlin.

As Balthazar battles his former friend, Veronica stops Morgan by absorbing her into her own body.  While Morgana tries to destroy Veronica from within, Balthazar quickly imprisons both women into a Grimhold (a nesting doll) which will keep Veronica alive but also prevent Morgana from causing any harm. He also imprisons Horvath as well.

Before Merlin dies, he tells Balthazar that the remaining apprentice (from his bloodline) will need to be found and that a Dragon ring will lead him to the next apprentice, the Prime Merlinian who will become his successor.  Only the Prime Merlinian can defeat Morgana.

So, for the next 1,000 years, Balthazar imprisons Morganians into the Grimhold while trying to search for his successor.

In 2000, a young 10-year-old named Dave Stutler (young version played by Jake Cherry, older version played by Jay Baruchel, “Knocked Up”, “Tropic Thunder”, “Million Dollar Baby”) a boy who has fallen in love for the young Becky (young version played by Peyton List, older version by Teresa Palmer, “Bedtime Stories”, “The Grudge 2”).  He gives her a note for her to mark if she would be his friend or boyfriend.  She marks the note but somehow the note starts flying around and as Dave tries to get the catch the note, it flies into a shop which is owned by Balthazar.

When Balthazar realizes the coincidence of the boy coming to his store, he tests the dragon ring which automatically responds to Dave.  Balthazar tells him that he has been looking for him for over a 1,000 years.  Of course, Dave doesn’t understand what’s going on.  But when Balthazar tells him to wait and not touch anything, Dave realizes that each time he moves his hand (with the ring) he causes damage in the store and accidentally releases Horvath from the nesting doll.  Now Horvath wants the Grimhold to release Morgana.

Balthazar and Horvath battle but in order to protect the young Dave, Balthazar ends up sealing himself and Horvath in a large vase.   Shocked by what has transpired, Dave takes the Grimhold, runs out of the store and throws it out into the street.  Meanwhile, his classmates see him scared and his pants are wet and assume Dave has peed in his pants. Unfortunately, for him…Becky, the girl he likes also sees this and for the next teen years of his life, Dave would be ridiculed, become an outcast, has to transfer to another school because of being picked on and even go through psychiatric evaluations because no one believes him of what he had seen inside the store.

Fastforward to 2010, Dave is now a student at NYU who studies physics and a science geek.  While collecting papers, he manages to run into Becky who he has not seen for many years.  Becky is also a student at NYU who is struggling in her class and is a DJ on campus.  Excited to see her again, Dave volunteers to tutor her in her studies.

Meanwhile, Balthazar and Horvath manage to escape from the vase and immediately Horvath goes to look for the Grimhold, while Balthazar looks for Dave.

To Dave’s shock, when he returns home, he sees Horvath and realizes that what he saw at the age of 10 was real and now this evil sorcerer is trying to kill him, but Balthazar ends up saving him.   Unfortunately, Horvath finds the Grimhold and now he plans to release Morgana and have her destroy the world.

Balthazar knows he can’t defeat Morgana and Horvath on his own and needs the help of Dave but he must be trained first.

Balthazar explains to Dave that he is a sorcerer and that with his ring, he can create magic and fight against the evils and defend himself from the Morganians, but in order to learn, he must be his apprentice and do what he says.  Dave realizes the truth of what Balthazar says, although he is not ready to dedicate all his time to learning sorcery because he has fallen for Becky, but yet, he will do what it takes to become the sorcerer’s apprentice.

VIDEO:

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). As I expect audio to be wonderful from a Jerry Bruckheimer-related film, I also expect incredible visuals and in this case, the picture quality of this film is fantastic!  There is a lot of vibrant colors going around everywhere in this film.  These colors pop and not only are they dazzling and just wonderful to watch and see, I found no problems with the video whatsoever.  No artifactgs, no dust, scratches or anything negative.  Blacks were nice and deep, skin tones were natural, you can see the scraggly hair of Balthazar, the fur on Alfred Molina’s jacket, the detail of the set also come to life.  Just take a look at the scenes in China Town or Dave’s lab.  There is just detail and colors that just come alive on Blu-ray.

In fact, the film sports a lot of red and amber colors and typically, I would see some banding during those scenes, pause and watch it slowly frame-by-frame and saw none of that.  I saw no crush, I saw nothing that I perceive as negative for the entire film.  Visual effects by Method, One of Us, Double Negative and Asylum for this film were wonderful and the production design by Naomi Shohan (I loved what she did in “I Am Legend”) looks fantastic in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”.

But once again, similar to Bruckheimer’s “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” on Blu-ray, once again, another film on Blu-ray that achieves perfect marks for PQ.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/24-bit), English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.

And what would a Jerry Bruckheimer film be without upfront, stomach churning, room shaking lossless audio.  “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is fantastic.  Dialogue and music is crystal clear from the center and front channels but with so much action, the surround channels are constantly being used.  But most of all, for those who simply want more LFE in films, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” delivers!

From the battles between Balthzar and Dave versus Horvath and Morganians, fireballs, electricity, explosions, damage to surroundings, you’re going to hear it from all over, you’re going to hear the audio pan from left to right and right to left and you’re going to be moved by it (literally, moved by it courtesy of that LFE).  Audio for “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is magnificent and audiophiles will love this aspect of the film.

As for subtitles, the film is presented in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” comes with the following special features presented in HD:

  • Magic In The City – (12:53)  Shooting in New York City, shooting in China Town and the challenges shooting around the city and the challenge of building the dragon and coordinating the green screen with the people running from it.  As well as incorporating the visual effects.
  • The Science Of Sorcery – (10:15)  The cast and crew talk about the science discussion used in the film.
  • Making Magic Real – (11:46)  Creating the effects in real time and not via visual effects.  So, the fire effects shown in the lab was real-time and not added in post-production.  As well, as another numerous scenes that were done real-time.
  • Fantasia: Reinventing a Classic – (10:13) Bruckheimer, Turteltaub and Cage talk about the animated classic “Fantastia” and reinventing it.
  • The Fashionable Drake Stone – (2:09) Bruckheimer and costume designer Michael Kaplan talk about creating the magician Drake Stone and the fashion around him.
  • The Grimhold: An Evil Work Of Art – (3:45) The cast talk about the Grimhold, the Russian nesting doll and the artwork painted on it.
  • The Encantus – (2:23) Director Jon Turteltaub and talent talk about “The Encantus” and the creation of making the actual compiled book and art design involved.
  • Wolves & Puppies – (3:07) Jerry Bruckheimer, director Jon Turteltaub and casts talk about working with wolves.
  • The World’s Coolest Car – (1:30) Director Jon Turteltaub talks about using Nicolas Cage’s 1935 Rolls Royce used for the film and the special care it took to make it and a replica made for it.
  • 5 Deleted Scenes – (7:46) Five deleted scenes cut from the film.
  • Outtakes – (3:14) Bloopers from “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”.

EXTRAS:

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” comes with a slip-over case.

When it comes to action films, especially from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, there are things that you come to expect, heavy action and a film that utilizes incredible visual effects and very awesome set design.  But when it comes to storyline, you never expect anything too deep, in fact, you just sit back and enjoy.

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is similar to Bruckheimer’s last big-budget produced film “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”, both are visual effects heavy, plenty of action and very good talent behind-the-film but a storyline that could have been further explored and made deeper but instead, a film that tends to showcase the latest in visual effects and action.

Film critics will often not be supportive of these type of films but for audiences looking to be entertained and audiophiles and videophiles looking for reference titles to show off their system, Bruckheimer films typically score quite high for these audiences.

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is definitely a film that looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray and the audio is also magnificent but coming into this film, I didn’t have high expectations.  I knew what to expect from a Bruckheimer film and its consistent with his other films in being audio and visual eye candy.  Would I have liked a more deeper film in which we see Dave learning how to become an apprentice and focus on the actual training and see him developing as a sorcerer-in-training.  Yes, that would be great but a Bruckheimer film is not so much about the character development, it’s about in your face action that keeps coming and coming and with the director Jon Turteltaub and the screenwriter to continue to top these action sequences as much as they can.  Visual eye candy…yes, this is how Bruckheimer action films are.  Anyone expecting more than that, shouldn’t.

Don’t expect the greatest acting, don’t expect deep character development, it’s literally a kitschy film that happens to be fun and visual effects heavy.

I grew up watching these type of films as a child and always been mesmerized by visual effects-driven type of films.  Personally, I don’t mind having eye-candy driven films once in awhile and in some way, I have a soft spot for enjoying films about nerds becoming heroes and I know many audiences share the same sentiment as well.

So, If you are looking for an action-driven film with plenty of awesome visual effects, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” well serve you well.  If you are a videophile or audiophile looking for awesome visuals and with that stomach churning, room shaking LFE, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” will definitely entertain you.

But in the end, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is a fun, family popcorn action flick.  Don’t expect too much from this film.  Just watch and enjoy.

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