Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)

Rated: PG for fantasy action violence, some mild rude humor and brief language.
Length: 109 minutes
Grade: B+B+BB+=B+
Budget: $150 million
Box Office: $225 million (63 U.S., 152 Intl., 10 DVD)

Written by: Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal (Flicka, Mona Lisa Smile, Planet of the Apes, Mighty Joe Young, Mercury Rising, Beverly Hillbillies, Star Trek VI, and Superman IV), Matt Lopez (Race to Witch Mountain, Bedtime Stories, and The Wild), Doug Miro & Carlo Bernard (Prince of Persia Sands of Time, The Uninvited)
Directed by: Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure 1+2, The Kid, Phenomenon, While You Were Sleeping, and Cool Runnings)
Starring: Nicholas Cage and Jay Baruchel
With: Alfred Molina, Teresa Palmer, Toby Kebbell, and Monica Bellucci.

In 740 AD, when Merlin was betrayed and killed, one of his students imprisoned herself and Merlin’s arch-enemy Morgana le Fay inside a nesting doll. Now, the long-lost descendant of Merlin, the “Prime Merlinian,” must learn magic from Balthazar Blake (another of Merlin’s students) to save the world from the betrayer who wants to release Morgan and subjugate all humanity. Unfortunately for him, he’s just a nerdy physics student.

Entertainment Value: B+
This was fun. There’s nothing “great” about this movie, but it’s plenty of good, mostly clean wizards and witches action frivolity with some PG romance and sarcastic humor. My boys have been watching it almost every day since we saw it over a week ago, which means it has that classic Disney appeal to younger kids. Having grown up a mythology and Middle Ages fan (yes I played Dungeons & Dragons), I thought it was thoroughly entertaining. I will say one thing I wonder about. In The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions, Monica Bellucci plays the wife of the Merovingian. In Sorcerer’s Apprentice, she waits for her lover Balthasar to discover the Prime Merlinian. Are all Monica Bellucci films destined to have a long-named character that starts with M and ends with –ian? Yeah, it was probably funnier inside my head.

Superficial Content: B+
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sex/Nudity A, Violence B, Language A
Isn’t it great for a kids movie to be safe enough for kids to watch? At least for this one, you know there’s only one thing to be concerned about: violence. There are some killings and plenty of sorcery/witchcraft magic and action peril (car chases, giant dragons, fireballs and plasma blasts, etc.). Now, I come from a tradition which thinks that fantasy fighting and violence is perfectly normal for kids, so I had no problem letting my boys (6 and 4) watch this. However, Common Sense Media says PG-9. So, I think it’s fine, but at least now you know what to be aware of.

Significant Content: B
Physics is really just the precursor of magic, which adds mental powers to natural science. Nevertheless, magic (or physics) without love will be empty and unbeautiful. Evil people refuse to submit to others and only serve themselves. Good masters serve the student but evil masters use up the student for their own purposes. Evil must be dealt with, it cannot be ignored. Everyone wants to be normal and have a relaxing life, but the burden of great talents is great responsibility.

Artistic/Thought Value: B+
It’s not so much for thought value as it is for artistic rendering. This film has all sorts of homages in all the right places, most notably the design of the studio and the wonderful mop scene. There’s also the Star Wars reference, but my personal favorite was the adaptation of the scene from Sword in the Stone where Merlin and Mim are dueling back and forth by upgrading what monster they become just like the car chase scene here.

Discussion Questions:
~In the opening scene, Merlin tells Morgana that they are but servants of the magic, but she replies that she is no one’s servant. Does his view represent the idea of stewardship? What does her response show about her?
~When Dave challenges Balthasar for not being a good mentor, he makes a distinction between a mentor and a master. What’s the difference, and why is it important? What does our culture think of the idea of having a master? How is this relevant to Christianity? Do you tend to think of Jesus as your mentor or as your master?
~What are the differences between being one of the Morganians and one of the Merlinians?
~Do you believe that people are capable of doing magic or any sort of psychic powers if they learned to use more of their minds/brains?
~Given the Bible’s stern warnings against witchcraft, do you believe that myths and fables (or comic books) with characters doing spells are always a problem for Christians?

Poignant or memorable scenes:
~Dragon fighting
~Tesla tower serenade.
~The mops.
~The end battle.
Overall Grade: B+
This is fun and entertaining for adults and kids. Mine have been watching it over and over since we got it.

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