Monday, October 17, 2011

Movie Review: The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010)

The Sorcerer's Apprentice has a long history. It was first conceived as a ballad by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1797 (the German title is Der Zauberlehrling).[1] One hundred years later the French composer Paul Dukas composed a scherzo based on the poem (the French title is L'apprenti sorcier).[2] In 1940 Walt Disney Studios released the animated film Fantasia which featured Mickey Mouse in the role of the apprentice, set to Dukas' music. The most recent incarnation of The Sorcerer's Apprentice (and the subject of this review) is an adventure film directed by Jon Turteltaub (who also directed the National Treasure films) and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Bruckheimer's involvement, in particular, makes me suspect that Disney was trying to duplicate the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.[3]

My verdict: This was a fun movie and I appreciated that it was low on profanity, gore, etc. There were a few casting surprises, including Alfred Molina (Horvath), Monica Bellucci (Vanessa), and Ian McShane (the narrator). My only real complaint is that it was completely unbelievable that the girl (played by Teresa Palmer) would fall so easily into a relationship with the main character—he's socially awkward (and uninclined), his voice sounds like someone has a finger pushed uncomfortably deep into his midsection, and his head and face look like they were run over repeatedly by a Big Wheel when he was three. Also, I think the soundtrack would've been stronger with more references to L'apprenti sorcier.[4]

NOTE: Be sure to watch the quick scene after the credits where the iconic blue-with-white-stars wizard's hat makes an appearance.


[1] You can read it in English and German (side by side) here.

[2] You can listen to a full performance of the piece here (.mp3). I'm reminded a little of John Williams' score for Hook.

[3] i.e. since it was Bruckheimer who teamed up with director Gore Verbinski to make the first Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy and director Rob Marshall to make the most recent Pirates film.

[4] L'apprenti sorcier shows up at the beginning of the movie, but I don't recall it appearing in the soundtrack after that.

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