THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE
Release Date: July 14, 2010
Audience: Older children to adults
Runtime: 111 minutes
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Company
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Address Comments To:Robert Iger, President/CEO, The Walt Disney Company
(Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax Films, and Buena Vista Distribution)
Rich Ross, Chairman, Walt Disney Studios
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Phone: (818) 560-1000
A short prologue reveals that Merlin, the famous magician serving King Arthur, had three apprentices, Balthazar Blake, Maxim Horvath and Veronica. Maxim becomes jealous at the growing affection between Balthazar and Veronica. He teams up with the evil Morgana to fight Merlin and resurrect all the dead evil sorcerers to control the world. After Morgana kills Merlin, she possesses Veronica’s body, but Balthazar uses Merlin’s ring to imprison them and Horvath in a Russian nesting doll. Balthazar then starts looking for the ultimate successor to Merlin, the only one who can free his beloved Veronica and defeat Morgana and Horvath.
Cut to the year 2000. Young Dave Stutler is trying to impress Becky Barnes. Dave passes Becky a note asking if she wants to be his girlfriend. She writes an answer, but the wind blows the piece of paper down the street. Dave chases the paper into a magic shop, where he unwittingly releases Horvath from the doll where, down through the centuries, Balthazar also has imprisoned several other evil sorcerers while looking for Merlin’s successor. The resulting fight ends with the doll being lost in the street and Balthazar managing to transport Horvath and himself into a magical jar that won’t release its prisoners for 10 years.
Ten years later, Dave is a physics student at New York University while Becky is a music student. Meanwhile, the magical jar releases Horvath and Balthazar. Horvath immediately starts trying to track down David, whom he thinks still has the doll in which Morgana is trapped. Balthazar also tries to track down David. He discovers that David may be the ultimate successor to Merlin. He tries to give David a crash course in how to be a sorcerer so that, together, they can stop Horvath from releasing Morgana, resurrecting the dead evil sorcerers and killing or enslaving the rest of mankind.
Inspired by the German poet Goethe’s original poem and the classic Mickey Mouse sequence in Disney’s FANTASIA, THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE is an action-packed fantasy adventure of good versus evil. Intercut within the adventure story is plenty of humor, including a takeoff of Mickey Mouse battling a bunch of brooms carrying endless buckets of water. The live action sequence in the new film is almost as much fun as Mickey’s, but it could have gone on a little bit longer.
There’s a lot to like in THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE. There’s plenty of action. The comedy is funny. The heroes are likeable. The special effects are cool and dazzling without being overbearing. And, the villains are sufficiently mean and crafty. All in all, it’s a good movie, though probably not a great one.
That said, the story is about sorcery and sorcerers. The Bible expressly condemns such things in no uncertain terms in Deuteronomy 18:10-12: “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.”
In an interesting twist, THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE defines the magic and sorcery used to defeat the bad guys in a scientific way. David is a physics student, so Balthazar tells him that the magic he is teaching him is just an advanced way to manipulate the molecules and atoms in the physical universe. Thus, in the movie’s climax, David tries to defeat the bad guys by combining his knowledge of science and physics with the sorcery Balthazar has taught him.
Of course, in the modern occult movement as well as in parts of the New Age, occult practices like sorcery and witchcraft are sometimes, if not often, explained scientifically, as a special way of manipulating the physical world. For example, Anti-Christian “mind science” cults like Christian Science try to give such a “scientific” explanation for their advocacy of using mind over matter to, for instance, heal themselves miraculously or magically. One can debate whether or not they are really using the idea of science properly, but the fact remains that their explanations and rationalizations are not always wholly supernatural, much less anti-science.
Ultimately, therefore, THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE contains strong occult elements that include a naturalistic, humanist definition of the sorcery and magic that occurs in the story. There is also a Romantic element where David must learn how to overcome his nerdy self-doubts and believe in himself and his own abilities in order to become a good enough sorcerer to defeat the evil sorcerers.
These mixed negative elements, however, are mitigated by a strong sense of good versus evil. Although the movie has some of the elitism that occurs in the occult use of witchcraft and sorcery of the HARRY POTTER books and movies, the heroes in THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE are using sorcery to defeat the truly evil villains and protect mankind, not for their own personal gain or elitist pride. This is different from the occult, pagan practices of many of today’s sorcerers and witches, who use their magic and witchcraft on other people, not only for personal achievement or amusement of some kind but also in a vain, self-defeating attempt against the God of the Bible and Christianity.
Thus, while THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE is not as bad or Anti-Christian as it could have been, its worldview and use of sorcery to defeat evil is still unacceptable.
There’s a lot to like in THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE. There’s plenty of action with lots of jeopardy. The comedy is funny and family friendly. The heroes are likeable. The special effects are cool and dazzling, not overbearing. And, the villains are sufficiently mean and crafty. All in all, it’s a good movie, though probably not a great one. However, the movie contains strong occult elements linked to some pseudo-scientific explanations. There is also a self-esteem message about the apprentice overcoming his self-doubts. These problems are mixed with a strong moral theme about good defeating evil and protecting people from evil sorcerers. Thus, the movie is not as bad as it could have been, even though the occult elements are clearly unacceptable.