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The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD Combo) (Blu-ray) by Directed by Jon Turteltaub
Review by Charles Mohapel
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Blu-ray  ISBN/ITEM#: B0041PSQF6
Date: 17 December 2010 List Price $39.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: IMDB.com / Wikipedia / Show Official Info /

Back in 1940, you had Mickey Mouse playing the role of the sorcerer's apprentice in 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' segment of "Fantasia". When "Fantasia 2000" was released, 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' with Mickey Mouse was the only segment to repeat. But when Walt Disney Studios chose to make a live action version with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Jon Turteltaub, and Nicholas Cage as the lead, playing Balthazar Blake, you just know that there will be plenty of fireworks, both figuratively and literally.

Directed by:
Jon Turteltaub

Writing credits:
Lawrence Konner (screen story) &
Mark Rosenthal (screen story) &
Matt Lopez (screen story)

Matt Lopez (screenplay) and
Doug Miro (screenplay) &
Carlo Bernard (screenplay)

Cast (Cast overview, first billed only):
Nicolas Cage ... Balthazar Blake
Jay Baruchel ... Dave Stutler
Alfred Molina ... Maxim Horvath
Teresa Palmer ... Becky Barnes
Toby Kebbell ... Drake Stone
Omar Benson Miller ... Bennet Zurrow
Monica Bellucci ... Veronica Gorloisen
Alice Krige ... Morgana le Fay
Jake Cherry ... Young Dave
James A. Stephens ... Merlin
Gregory Woo ... Sun-Lok
Wai Ching Ho ... Chinese Woman
Jason R. Moore ... Subway Mugger
Robert Capron ... Young Dave's Pal (as Robert B. Capron)
Peyton List ... Young Becky (as Peyton Roi List)

While I'm of two minds as to whether or not to call a live action movie based on an 8 minute animated short a true 'remake', I'll defer to the consensus and refer to The Sorcerer's Apprentice on Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD Combo as a 'remake'.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice begins with a flashback to 740 AD where we meet the legendary wizard Merlin (James A. Stephens) and his three trusted apprentices - Balthazar (Nicholas Cage), Veronica (Monica Bellucci), and Horvath (Alfred Molina) - except one of them isn't trustworthy. Merlin's archnemesis is sorceress Morgana le Fay (Alice Krige) and when she attempts to bring dead magicians back to life so she can take over the world, she attacks Merlin in his inner sanctum and the treacherous Horvath turns on Merlin, allowing Morgana to run him through with a sword. In the ensuing magical battle Veronica sacrifices herself for Balthazar by drawing Morgana's soul into her own body, but Morgana was so foul, she began killing Veronica from within. In order to simultaneously save Veronica's life and capture Morgana, Balthazar trapped both of them within the Grimhold from which there was no escape from within. As he lay dying, Merlin gives Balthazar his dragon ring and tells him to find the Prime Merlinian, the only person who can destroy Morgana. Over the years numerous Morganians attempted unsuccessfully to free their mistress, each one being captured in turn in a layer of the Grimhold, the last of which was Sun-Lok. If you wonder what the Grimhold looks like, imagine a Russian nesting doll, in this case with the lifelike image of the most recent captured Morganian painted on the outside.

Cut to a second flashback in the Year 2000 where we get introduced to Dave Stutler, a nerdy grade school kid, riding a school bus on a class trip. Dave ends up being drawn to Arcana Cabana, a strange shop owned by Balthazar. When Dave accidentally releases Horvath, he and Balthazar battle magically, and frightening poor little Dave who flees in a panic.

Jump ahead to the present day and Dave is now a nerdy physics undergrad attending NYU. And so the adventure begins...

Looking at the treasure trove of Bonus Features on Disc 1: The Blu-ray Disc, I can't recall any film or TV show I've reviewed in the last year or so, where I felt that the Bonus Features were so entertaining and so much fun across the board as I did with The Sorcerer's Apprentice on Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD Combo.

'Magic In The City' was great because unlike many films that pretend to be shot in the Big Apple, The Sorcerer's Apprentice was shot on location and made it work. Shooting the Chinatown celebration on a soundstage would have been nowhere near as successful as it was by shooting on location during an actual celebration in Chinatown.

In the 'The Science Of Sorcery', Nicholas Cage speaks about science and magic in a way that made me think of Arthur C. Clarke's famous quote "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." I wonder if Cage has either read this or heard it mentioned. I also got a chuckle at the Tesla coils and Faraday cage in Dave's isolated lab.

'Making Magic Real' was loads of fun because unlike any other productions, Director Jon Turteltaub's preference is for a lot more Special Effects (Live Action) than Visual Effects (CGI). Even though VFX Supervisor John Nelson handles the CGI, he likes to have the actors touch real tangible objects since that makes their reactions more realistic. Watching how the Special Effects team went about their work was very interesting and very cool.

Watching 'Fantasia: Reinventing A Classic' was special since we got to hear cast and crew talk in reverent tones about their first time watching Fantasia and how they wanted to show their respect for the original animators, and above all for Walt Disney himself. in this featurette Jon Turtletaub says that the original story was the inspiration to the music written by Paul Dukas - now Paul Dukas's music is the inspiration for this version.

'The Fashionable Drake Stone' was brief but fun as we got to see and hear how the 'Drake Stone' look was created.

'The Grimhold: An Evil Work Of Art' was interesting since we got to observe how the Grimhold went through a number of different designs before they settled on Russian nesting dolls as the final design and how they tried different materials for the Grimhold.

In 'The Encantus', Property Master James Mazzola talks of individually aging 1,500 pages and of using a 17th century Bible as the reference for how a really old book ages. Oversized and handwritten on parchment, the Encantus strongly reminded me of the equally oversized and ornate 'Pirate Code' book guarded by Captain Teague (Keith Richards), Captain Jack Sparrow's father and the much feared Keeper of the Pirate's Code. That the two books so closely resemble each other should come as a surprise to no one since Jerry Bruckheimer produced both and his insistence for accuracy in detail in the props. etc. is legendary.

'Wolves & Puppies' was hilarious as they told us how they used tame wolves and wolf cubs in the movie. Seeing how much the wolves look like huskies and act like normal dogs, I'd hazard a guess that they have been bred in captivity, perhaps for several generations. Either that or they're very much like the first wolves who evolved into 'Man's Best Friend' over the millennia. And the wolf cubs look so cute, you want to take one home with you.

In 'The World's Coolest Car', I was very surprised to learn that Nicholas Cage offered his one-of-a-kind 1935 Rolls Royce Phantom for use as Balthazar's classic automobile. Normally cars used in films and TV shows are used as a place to sit, abused, and rarely survive. This time around everyone working on the film treated the Rolls with reverence and not surprisingly they made a replica of it for filming, using a late model half ton Chevy chassis.

When it comes to the Deleted Scenes, my two favorites were 'A Model Student' which was amusing, especially when the baseball has an 'accident' at the end, as well as 'Balthazar Recruits Dave' where I loved the Spanish music at the beginning and the hilarious ending with Tank the bulldog. Watch Tank very carefully.

I was mildly disappointed with the Outtakes because they were silly at the start with people laughing, but you never got to see what made the actors laugh in each case. On the other hand, the Outtakes ended much funnier than they began.

'Discover Blu-ray 3D with Timon & Pumbaa' was hilarious since the pair livened up the promo piece immensely. In fact I much prefer them to being forced to endure Dylan & Cole Sprouse in 'Dylan & Cole Sprouse: Blu-ray Is Suite!'

As you can expect, the Bonus Features on Disc 2: the DVD are much less than on the Blu-ray Disc. Looking at 'The Making Of The Sorcerer's Apprentice', it features highlights from some of the Bonus Features from Blu-ray Disc, but it still maintained their high standards. The sole Deleted Scene was 'Balthazar Recruits Dave' and finally, we got a second serving of 'Discover Blu-ray 3D with Timon & Pumbaa'.

In 'The Making Of The Sorcerer's Apprentice' the pre-production photos on the wall are absolutely gorgeous. The interior of Arcana Cabana looks like it could easily be found in Diagon Alley in the "Harry Potter" films. Jon Turteltaub offers a small piece of sage advice to budding young filmmakers. John Nelson told us that for the climactic battle scene in Battery Park, NY, all the actors involved had bright LED lights on their hands, giving them something to work with when casting their spells, and providing a brief moment of interesting lens flare.

While there are a lot of Sneak Peeks on the DVD, the only ones that got me pumped were the trailer for TRON: Legacy in IMAX 3D, Disney Digital 3D, and Real D 3D; as well as the promos for The Lion King Diamond Edition on Disney Blu-ray and Disney DVD and Alice In Wonderland Special 60th Anniversary Edition on Disney Blu-ray and Disney DVD.

If you didn't get to see The Sorcerer's Apprentice in the theaters this past summer, do yourself a favor and buy The Sorcerer's Apprentice Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack and have a good laugh over the holidays. You won't regret it.

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