A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this fantasy action-adventure, inspired to some degree by Disney’s classic Fantasia, is targeted at the same audience who enjoyed star Nicolas Cage’s National Treasure movies. Like those movies, The Sorcerer's Apprentice has plenty of thrilling action sequences boosted by special-effects magic -- some of which may be too scary and/or intense for kids under 8. There's swordplay and electric blasts, and characters are threatened with peril and even death. But underlying all the action is a positive message about being true to yourself.
What's the story?
Millennia ago, Morgana le Fay (Alice Krige) attempted to unseat Merlin (James A. Stephens), who managed to fend her off by sending her and the turncoat Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina) to a prison called a grimhold. Sadly for the sorcerer Balthazar (Nicolas Cage), his magically gifted beloved, Veronica (Monica Bellucci), is trapped in there, too. The goal in THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE is to find Merlin’s descendant -- aka the prime Merlinian -- who’s the only one who can vanquish Morgana and her minions forever. Balthazar thinks he may have found him once, in the form of an elementary schoolboy named Dave. But it’s not until Dave (Jay Baruchel) is in college studying to be a physicist that he’s able to finally take on his mission.
Is it any good?
Everything and the kitchen sink is in this movie: adventure, mythology, buddy comedy, wizardry, and even romance. All of which leaves the impression that it’s engineered -- some would say rigged -- to be a summer blockbuster. Which doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining, because it certainly is. (How could it not be, given how engineered the whole thing feels?) As in Spider-Man 2, Molina proves brilliant at villainy, balancing smart and sinister at the same time. And Baruchel isn't your average hero, which is a good thing: He’s one of a few elements in the movie that has refreshing edge.
One section that does feel inspired? The mops-and-buckets-go-awry sequence inspired by Fantasia, the classic animated feature to which The Sorcerer's Apprentice owes some debt of gratitude. For a moment there, the movie evokes the whimsy and mayhem it could have more wholeheartedly embraced. As the popcorn fare it is now, it’s loads of fun -- but it could have been genius.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's action scenes. Do movies have to have actual violence to be scary or intense?
Why is Dave reluctant to go for greatness? What does Dave learn from Balthazar? Is theirs a believable friendship, given their differences?
In these types of movies, good typically wins out over evil. Why is that conflict so fascinating to Hollywood?
- In theaters: July 14, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: November 30, 2010
- Cast: Alfred Molina, Jay Baruchel, Monica Bellucci, Nicolas Cage
- Director: Jon Turteltaub
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Run time: 121 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: fantasy action violence, some mild rude humor and brief language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.