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Review: Wreck It Ralph

For family fun last Saturday night, we decided to watch the animated Disney movie Wreck It Ralph. We all love video games, and the premise – of a downtrodden villain growing weary of doing villainous things, and wanting more – seemed appealing.

My kids mostly play their video games online on their PC, or on their consoles, or on their smart phones or ipods.  When I was a kid, if we wanted to play — we grabbed our quarters and cold hard cash, met up with friends and headed to the local arcade. To spend hours dropping quarters into machines.

But, what really goes on INSIDE those arcade video games?

And thus begins the story, of an 8-bit villain, wanting to be a hero…


Movie reviews

Review: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice movie

Once upon a time, the great sorcerer Merlin had 3 apprentices, Balthazar, Veronica, and Horvath.  Together they kept the evil sorceress Morgana at bay, and good prevailed over evil.  One day, when Morgana attacks Merlin, Horvath betrays Balthazar.  In an effort to stop Morgana, Balthazar traps her, along with his true love Veronica, inside a small wooden nesting doll – the Grimwald.  The dying Merlin tells Balthazar that only the Prime Merlinian will be able to defeat Morgana, and gives Balthazar his dragon ring – the key to finding the new, powerful sorcerer.  For a thousand years, Balthazar battles evil alone – protecting the Grimwald, waiting and searching for the Prime Merlinian, the hope for the future.  Until one day, by pure coincidence, he meets Dave.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is directed by Jon Turtletaub (of the National Treasure movies – which I loved!), and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

***warning:  spoilers***

Nicolas Cage as Balthazar is amazing.  He inhabits the role of Balthazar, and dares you to believe his world is not real.  Weary, but determined, Balthazar searches for the Prime Merlinian, and upon finding him, patiently and doggedly tries to teach Dave enough magic to keep him alive.  Balthazar will fulfill his duty at any cost, all the while hoping to free his lost love, Veronica.  Jay Baruchel as Dave, portrays a total nerd – introverted, and with a love of physics.  Dave is lacking in self confidence, and has no desire to interact with the outside world after an incident that occurs when he is 10 years old.  Alfred Molina as Horvath so reminded me of Doc Oct – he’s always a good villain.  (Yes, that is an oxymoron…)  I enjoyed watching Toby Kebbell as current Morganian magician/entertainer Drake Stone – a tall David Bowie type, more interested in fame than power.  When Horvath tells him his fans will soon be dead, Drake is actually sad.   And I would have liked to have seen more of Becky Barnes (Teresa Palmer); she seemed so capable of adding more to the story, and in the end probably does just as much as Dave to save the world.

Special effects were amazing – believable, thrilling, beautiful, adrenalin-rushing perfect – especially the flying metal eagle, the Wall Street metal bull, the magic scenes, the dragon ring, the Chinatown scene, and the car chases.  (I have a soft spot for a good car chase – like in the old James Bond movies.  Especially the Bond reverse 180, which an early boyfriend taught me, in a huge parking lot – get up to about 30 miles an hour in reverse, then snap up the parking brake, spin a 180, pop it into 2nd, and end up driving forward at 40 miles an hour+.  But, I digress…)

The music was very well done – set the mood perfectly, although it was loud!  Wardrobe was flawless; I especially loved Balthazar’s time-defying trench coat, Horvath’s impeccably tailored gentleman’s outfit, and Veronica’s medieval dress.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is definitely entertaining, but there were a few issues I had with this movie. 

I would have liked to have seen MORE magic.  If I were Dave, and told I was a sorcerer, I’d want to be trying out things, all the time – wouldn’t you?  Although, I did enjoy the nod to Fantasia, with the mops and brooms – a perfect, magical Disney moment.

The movie sets the stage for the plot action from the beginning, and then follows it through.  It’s entertaining, and there are small surprises here and there.  But mostly you just watch as fate plays out the plot that’s already been discussed.  One of the things I liked about National Treasure was the mystery – never really knowing where it was going to take you next.  Was there a treasure map?  Would it lead to treasure?  In Sorcerer’s Apprentice right in the beginning they talk about The Rising, about releasing Morgana, and the battle between the Prime Merlinian and Morgana.  It’s fun, but a little too predictable.  I thought the ending was perfect.  And expected.

Oh, and Nic Cage never does say the line “but it’s fun, right?” that you see in the trailers.

The movie might possibly be a bit scary for younger kids.  It was visually darker than I expected – a lot happened at night.  There were some bugs-morphing-into-people scenes, and some skeleton scenes; nothing too over the top, though.  All my kids (ages 8+) loved it.

Overall, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is an entertaining story of good versus evil, and the interrelatedness of magic and science.  Of how sometimes it takes someone else believing in you, before you can believe in yourself.  And the importance of actively participating in your own fate.  And lastly, of the power of love, and the understanding of the actions we take because we are in love.

We paid matinee price, and it was worth it.

The funny thing was, when the movie was over, we all turned to each other and said “What happened to Horvath?  Where did he go?”  Going to have to see it again, when it comes out on PayPerView.