The Sorcerer’s Apprentice opens in 740 AD with a battle between Merlin the wizard and the sorceress Morgana (Alice Krige). Morgana wants to steal Merlin’s Great Book of Spells. We hear that Merlin had three apprentices – Balthazar Blank (Nicholas Cage), Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina) and Veronica (Monica Bellucci). Through Horvath’s betrayal, Morgana was able to defeat Merlin. Before Morgana is able to escape with Merlin’s Great Book, Balthazar and Veronica arrive and battle with Morgana and Horvath. During the fight, Veronica overpowers Morgana by sucking her soul into her own body. Morgana fights back trying to kill Veronica from the inside out. To save Veronica’s life, Balthazar imprisons both Veronica and Morgana in a wooden nesting doll, a magical prison called the ‘Grimhold’. Before dying, Merlin hands Balthazar a tiny metal dragon. He tells Balthazar that he is to use the dragon to find Merlin’s successor, the ‘Prime Merlinian’. This person is the only one who can defeat Morgana.
The movie cuts to 2000, where 10-year-old Dave Stutler (Jake Cherry) accidentally stumbles into an antique shop. Here he encounters Balthazar, who has not aged a day. Sensing something different about Dave, Balthazar places the metal dragon on Dave’s hand. The dragon immediately wraps itself around Dave’s finger, revealing that Dave is the Prime Merlinian. While Balthazar is out of the room for a few minutes, Dave finds the Gimhold and accidentally releases Horvath. Unable to defeat Horvath, Balthazar tells Dave to take the Gimhold and run. He then imprisons himself and Horvath in a magical urn for 10 years.
Now the movie cuts to 2010, where Dave (Jay Baruchel) is a physics nerd at NYU, conducting experiments in electromagnetism. Dave has all but forgotten his encounter with Balthazar, and is having a relationship with Becky (Teresa Palmer). But both Horvath and Balthazar escape from the urn and go in search of Dave and the Grimhold.
The supernatural; immortality; relationships; betrayal
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice contains frequent intense fantasy violence. For example:
- During a fight between Merlin and Morgana, Morgana tries to burn Merlin with a magical wall of flames. Merlin holds a sword to Morgana’s throat. Morgana stabs Merlin in the stomach with a sword.
- A sorceress uses magic to transform Morgana into vapour, which the sorceress then sucks into her mouth. The sorceress then collapses on the floor and turns to dust.
- In a fight between Balthazar and Horvath, Balthazar uses his power to pin Horvath against the ceiling. One man uses his powers to hurl a bookcase at the other. One magically controls a sword that tries to stab the other. They use their magical powers to hurl each other around the room and throw balls of lightning at each other. The area around is engulfed in flames. After this, the two men turn to sand and are sucked into a magical urn.
- Balthazar uses magic to freeze Horvath to railway tracks. Horvath just manages to thaw out before being run over by a train.
- Horvath opens his coat to reveal many knives lining the inside. Horvath uses his magical powers to propel knives through the air. They smash through the windscreen of a car and it seems they kill the driver.
- A Chinese sorcerer hurls dozens of needles at Balthazar. He then transforms a Chinese parade dragon into a real dragon that breathes fire at people as they scream and run away. The dragon crashes its way through an apartment building while chasing after Dave. Dave uses his powers and hurls balls of lightening at the dragon. The dragon explodes in flames, falls from a building, and lands on top of a man.
- A man pulls a knife and robs Becky. Dave runs after the robber and uses his powers to knock the man to the ground with a flying flaming rubbish bin.
- Horvath holds his cane against Becky’s neck and threatens to cut her up and feed her to a cat.
- An evil sorcerer uses his powers to hurl Balthazar against a giant fan. The wires of the fan’s grill come to life, wrap themselves around Balthazar’s arms, and trap him. Balthazar frees himself and uses a ball of lightening to hurl his attacker across the room.
- Horvath uses his powers to hurl knives at Balthazar, but Dave uses his powers to stop the knives centimetres from Balthazar’s face.
- On two occasions, Horvath uses what he called a ‘parasite spell’ to suck the powers out of other sorcerers, one of whom is a young girl. Horvath touches her face, which appears to shrivel as she is drained of power.
- In the final showdown, Balthazar and Horvath use their powers to hurl each other around a city park and throw lightening balls at each other. Morgana hurls lightning at both Balthazar and Veronica, knocking them unconscious. Dave fires bolts of lightning at Morgana’s ghost-like image. He eventually turns Morgana to ash, which blows away in the wind.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. Many of these scenes involve transformations and inanimate figures coming alive. For example:
- Horvath and Balthazar erupt from a giant urn as clouds of sand. They transform into men.
- Morgana is transformed to vapour and sucked up by Veronica, who transforms into dust.
- Skulls and bones bound in stone become animated and move around.
- When Balthazar places a small silver dragon in Dave’s hand, the dragon becomes animated and wraps its arms, legs and wings around Dave’s finger.
- A giant metal eagle and a giant bronze bull come to life.
- When Dave drops a wooden nesting doll, it breaks open. Thousands of black cockroach-like insects pour out and transform into a man.
- A pack of snarling wolves chase Dave, who trips and stumbles as he runs away.
- A Chinese parade dragon is transformed into a real dragon. The torsos of the performers inside the street dragon are transformed into dragon intestines. Their legs transform into the dragon’s legs.
- Dave animates several mops and buckets to clean up his basement, but the mops go berserk and turn on Dave.
Younger children in this age group could also be disturbed by some of the violent and scary scenes described above.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by this movie.
This movie contains some sexual references. For example:
- Talking about dating Becky, Dave says, ‘I blew my shot at this girl 10 years ago’.
- Dave’s roommate encourages Dave to find a girlfriend. He suggests Dave spend time with some drunk university girls.
- To put Becky off Dave, Balthazar tells her that he has to go and pick up Dave’s ‘anti-itch’ cream.
- Becky says, ‘I want to come with you – you’re sexy’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie contains some use of substances. For example:
- A policeman says a group of people must have imagined seeing a dragon. He thinks it’s because they have been ‘hitting the sake pretty hard’.
- Dave’s roommate drinks wine with his girlfriend.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie contains some nudity and sexual activity. For example, Dave is seen from behind weeing in a toilet. There is also some kissing.
None of concern
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice contains occasional put-downs and brief mild coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a fantasy action drama that targets older children and early adolescents (10-15 years). It is partially based on scenes in the Disney classic Fantasia. The movie will entertain its targeted audience, but parents are warned that the movie has many scenes that could disturb younger children.
The main messages from this movie are the following:
- Believing in yourself is the secret to success.
- Betrayal destroys the person betraying as well as the people being betrayed.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include honesty, faithfulness and selflessness.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as thinking through the consequences of your actions. For example, to save Becky’s life, Dave hands over the Grimhold to Horvath. Dave knows that this could destroy the world. Was Dave right to risk the entire world to save Becky? Or should Becky have been sacrificed to save the lives of countless others?