Once again pairing Nicholas Cage with "National Treasure" director Jon Turtletaub, "Sorcerer's Apprentice" is producer Jerry Bruckheimer's big-budget answer to "Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief", the swords-and-sorcerers family flick that appeared in theaters earlier in the year. "Apprentice" is a surprisingly zippy, effects-heavy flick that makes a greater impression than I'd expected.
The picture focuses on Balthazar Blake (Nicholas Cage, bringing his own touch of his delightfully bizarre own personality - see his response when a character asks if he's crazy), a sorcerer in Manhattan in present day, who runs an antique store full of incredible, ancient and very dusty artifacts. After running into Dave Stutler (played by Jay Baruchel as an adult) and telling him that he has a destiny, Blake's nemesis, Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina) is released. The two fight throughout the store and then are sucked into an old vase - when Dave tries to tell his teacher, it's no surprise that he's thought to be crazy.
Years later, when the two sorcerers are released from their containment, Dave gets pulled in again, as they think he knows where a special, secret item is. Of course, he doesn't, but he's still pulled into the mix as the two sorcerers battle throughout New York City. Meanwhile, Dave fumbles as he tries to impress Becky Barnes (Teresa Palmer), who he liked as a child. Elsewhere, Maxim tries to recruit others in his plan to destroy the world and David finds that there's a lot about him he wasn't aware of.
The plot isn't anything unexpected, but Cage and Molina are quite good in their roles, and the film's effects sequences are often impressive and occasionally inspired. The film also makes rather good use of various NYC locations, as well, including a sports car chase throughout the streets of NYC and into Times Square. Baruchel is the film's only negative, as the actor takes the character's nerdy persona a bit too far into schtick territory a few too many times.
Overall though, I was pleasantly surprised by "Sorcerer's Apprentice", a movie I expected next-to-nothing from and found to be a very enjoyable popcorn flick.
Sharpening the Magic- Bonus Clip
Car Chase- Film Clip
VIDEO: "Sorcerer's" is presented by Disney Home Entertainment in 2.35:1 (1080p/avc) and the results are mostly terrific. Sharpness and detail are first-rate, as the smallest details - such as the items of the shop - are crisp and well-defined. Both daylight sequences and the more dimly-lit interiors/night exteriors remained clean and - with the exception of a couple of minor traces of artifacting - smooth and clear. Colors looked rich, deep and bold, with excellent saturation and no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The film is presented in DTS-HD 5.1. It's no surprise that the effects-heavy film's sound design (with a team lead by ace sound designer Christopher Boyes, "Pirates of the Caribbean", "Tron: Legacy"), is a delight to experience, with considerable use of the surrounds for enjoyable sorcery-driven sound effects and ambience. Audio quality is terrific, with moments of strong bass and consistently clear, crisp effects and dialogue.
EXTRAS: A series of featurettes ("Magic in the City", "The Science of Socerery", "The World's Coolest Car", "Wolves and Puppies", "Fantasia: Reinventing a Classic", "Making Magic Real", "The Fashionable Drake Stone", "The Encantus", "The Grimhold", "The World's Coolest Car" and a making-of), some of which provide some decent tidbits of information, but none go particularly in-depth (some are only a couple of minutes - the first two are the longest of the bunch.) Outtakes and deleted scenes are also offered.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I found "Sorcerer's Apprentice" to be an unexpectedly enjoyable popcorn flick, with good performances from Cage and Molina, as well as some solid visual effects work. The Blu-Ray offers first-rate audio/video quality, as well as a series of minor extras.
The Film B