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Like THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN films, THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE ($40) is another example of producer Jerry Bruckheimer taking an iconic Walt Disney property and turning it into motion picture confection to feed the movie going masses. However, instead of mining a theme park ride for inspiration, THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE borrows from Walt Disney’s animated classic FANTASIA. Although what THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE borrows from FANTASIA, and the Johann Wolfgang von Goethe literary source, is limited to a single sequence in the finished film. Featuring its own story filled with action and magic that plays out in modern day Manhattan, Bruckheimer conjures the director and leading man from his Disney co-produced NATIONAL TREASURE franchise to materialize this production of THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE on the silver screen. Sure, THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE consists more of illusion than substance, but this cinematic confection remains gooey and sweet enough for family audiences to eat up.

THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE opens in 740 AD with the betrayal of Merlin (James A. Stephens) by his apprentice Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina), who has joined forces with the evil sorceress Morgana le Fay (Alice Krige). Merlin’s remaining loyal apprentices Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage) and Veronica Gorloisen (Monica Bellucci) attempt to stop Morgana, but Merlin is mortally wounded in the ensuing magical battle. Veronica is another casualty of the battle, sacrificing herself to protect Balthazar from Morgana. However, Veronica’s sacrifice only forces Balthazar to lock both Morgana and Veronica in the Grimhold, a magical prison that resembles a nesting doll, as a means of saving Veronica from certain death and keeping Morgana contained. Before dying, Merlin entrusts Balthazar with the task of finding the Prime Merlinian, who will become Merlin's successor… and the only one that will be able to finally defeat Morgana. Balthazar’s search for the Prime Merlinian takes centuries, during which time he battles and imprisons Morganians- the evil followers Morgana, who want to release her from the Grimhold. Layer upon layer is added to the Grimhold, as each Morganian is imprisoned within it… with Maxim eventually occupying its outermost layer.

That brings us to the present. Balthazar discovers the Prime Merlinian in a ten-year-old boy, who in a matter of moments, manages to accidentally release Maxim the Grimhold. A quick thinking Balthazar finds a way to imprison Maxim (and himself), yet again, but only for ten years. When Maxim and Balthazar emerge from the temporary prison, the Prime Merlinian, David Stutler (Jay Baruchel), has grown into a young man, who is now a physics student at New York University. After facing a wizard Maxim has released from the Grimhold, David becomes Balthazar’s apprentice deciding that he wants to learn magic and embraces his destiny. What follows is an ever-escalating battle of magic and chases through Manhattan, as the dueling sorcerers fight to gain and regain possession of the Grimhold. The cast of THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE also features Teresa Palmer, Toby Kebbell, Omar Benson Miller, Jake Cherry, Gregory Woo and Wai Ching Ho.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE features a 1080p presentation that is as close to perfect as they get. The levels of sharpness, depth and dimensionality are all of the highest caliber. Fine details and texturing are sublimely rendered and the image literally bristles. Colors are rich, vibrant, fully saturated and reproduced without flaws. Additionally, flesh tones are tremendously appealing. Blacks are pure, as are the whites, plus the contrast is very smooth. The elements from which THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE has been mastered demonstrate virtually no imperfections. A fine sheen of grain is noticeable during the presentation and helps maintain an organic quality.

THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. To complement the eye-candy visuals, THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE proves to be pure ear candy, featuring an aggressive fantasy/action movie sound design. Sound effects spring from every direction, with all of the outlying channels being exceedingly well utilized for the smooth panning of sonic elements. In addition, the quieter moments provide a nice level of envelopment. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is marvelous; the musical component is full-bodied, plus all of the sound effects come across in a convincing manner. The bass channel is punchy, percussive and shakes the ground when required. Voices are cleanly and distinctly reproduced, plus the dialogue is easy to understand. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as is an English descriptive track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc’s interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the extras. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Magic In The City (thirteen minutes), The Science Of Sorcery (eleven minutes), Making Magic Real (twelve minutes), Fantasia: Reinventing A Classic (ten minutes), The Fashionable Drake Stone (two minutes), The Grimhold: An Evil Work Of Art (four minutes), The Encantus (two minutes), Wolves & Puppies (three minutes) and The World's Coolest Car (two minutes). Deleted Scenes, Outtakes and Bonus Trailers close out the standard extras. THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). Disc two contains a DVD edition of THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE.

Filled with action and magic, THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE is gooey and sweet cinematic confection that family audiences will eat up. The Blu-ray presentation is pure eye and ear candy, making the release all that much sweeter. Definitely worth a taste. Recommended.


The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD Combo) [Blu-ray] (2010)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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