A budget of $150,000,000 combined with a box office of $215,283,742 will get you a label of box office flop! No, I’m not talking about John Carter. That sad marketing tale has a budget of $250,000.000 for a box office of $282.778.100. So clearly the first film should have been a hit as it outperformed my favorite flop. Yet, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was labeled one of the biggest flops of 2010. Admittedly it does appear that Disney live action films have been lacking on return of investment when you begin to break down the numbers and do not see double or triple returns. And one begins to wonder how Oz: The Great and Powerful and The Lone Ranger will shake out financially.
Nicolas Cage plays Balthazar Blake, a wizard apprentice to Merlin. He faces off against fellow apprentice Maxim Horvath over hundreds of years in a struggle of good and evil. If Horvath wins the evil of Morgana le Fay will spread across the earth destroying life as we know it as she resurrects every dead evil wizard that had ever lived. The only power that can stop the forces of evil is the next Grand Merlinean. The unlikely candidate for Merlin’s power is physics student Dave, an very unlikely hero. The likable Dave, played by Jay Buruchel, attempts to date a past school mate Becky, played by Teresa Palmer who also appears in Disney’s Bedtime Stories, as he balance college and magical studies. But this is just a side note in a movie built to be a Mousey Movie:
· To Infinity and Beyond: When we meet Dave for the first time we initially see what must be a favorite toy, his Buzz Lightyear.
· Mr. Narrator Man: There is a lot of back story to fill in. So of course they use a narrator to catch the audience up on hundreds of years of mostly off screen action. That voice sounds so familiar, and it should to Disney fans as its Blackbeard himself, Ian McShane. Disney fans can visit this dread pirate within the current version of Pirates of the Caribbean in Anaheim and Orlando and revisit his tale in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
· Multi Bear: Alfred Molina, I must give you mad respect. I have been aware of Molina, especially as a villain in his long career. His portrayal of Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2 was disturbing to me. I still will not let me kids watch that installment of the webslinger because I am convinced the scene where Doc Ock awakens in the hospital will give them nightmares. It kind of gives me nightmares and action movies do not generally impact me that way. But I failed to understand was how long and rich his film career has been including Raiders of the Lost Ark and playing the husband in Not Without My Daughter, just two iconic movies on his resume. Disney fans may recognize Molina as villain/con man/reputable businessman Sheik Amar in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. But honestly what really got me nerded out was that recently he voiced the Multi Bear in Gravity Falls. Seriously if you have not caught Gravity Falls yet, do yourself and favor and enjoy the awesomeness. In Molina’s episode the main character Dipper can become a man the typical way, by killing the arch enemy of the Minotaurs (yeah Minotaurs) the likeable Multi Bear.
· National Treasure: So let me throw another set of numbers at you. With a budget of $100,000,000 and a box office of $347,512,318 you have a hit! And you get to make more movies! And when your sequel has a reasonable raise in its budget to $130,000,000 and you make 457,364.600 you get to make another movie. In this case the other movie was The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The first two films were National Treasure and National Treasure: Book of Secrets. These films brought huge windfalls for Disney with a team of producer Jerry Bruckheimer (of Pirates fame), director Jon Turtletaub, and lead actor Nicolas Cage. Clearly with the gang back together this team had a long leash and a bigger budget for their record of success. I honestly enjoyed The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, but maybe the number crunchers would have preferred National Treasure 3.
· Mops: Any Disney fan who hears Sorcerer’s Apprentice instantly thinks Fantasia and the original “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence featuring Mickey Mouse and the Wizard Yensid. The imagery that sticks with most of us is the uncontrollable mops cleaning as Apprentice Mickey attempts to use magic to cut corners with a nearly tragic result. Fortunately for Disney fans, Dave attempts the same shortcut with similar results.
· Master Magician: After the credits there is a brief scene in which someone picks up Horvath’s hat. Another distinctive hat is also visible, a tall blue wizard hat covered with stars that resembles the one worn by Mickey Mouse in the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and the main icon and wienie of Disney Hollywood Studios.
Maybe I have a thing for box office flops? I honestly really enjoyed The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and I think I can pin it on two reasons. First, stuff blows up. I like stuff blowing up in escapist adventures and Cage in my book has done a nice job giving us enjoyable movies where explosions happen at just the right time. Second, this movie was filled with references like the mop sequence to please the Disney fan. If you asked if I recommended this film, I would admit it has gotten a rewatch with me. So, give it a try it may make you feel magical.