It's the coolest job ever
The events that unfold prior to the main timeline in the movie are introduced in narration (uncredited Ian McShane), and takes us to 700 AD. The famous and powerful wizard Merlin (James A. Stephens) had three apprentices to whom he entrusted all of his knowledge of magic and cast spells over them to ensure they didn't age. However, one of his apprentices, Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina), betrayed Merlin for his greatest enemy, the sorceress Morgana (Alice Krige). The other two apprentices, Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage) and Veronica (Monica Bellucci) arrive at Merlin's stronghold in time to learn of the deception and discover that Morgana was attempting to steal a spell from Merlin's spell book that would allow her to awaken dead wizards and sorcerers and rule the world, The Rising.Morgana overpowers Merlin with Horvath's help and fatally wounds him before retrieving the evil spell. Balthazar and Veronica duel with Morgana while Horvath escapes. As a last resort, Veronica uses a spell to absorb Morgana's soul into her own body to stop her but Morgana begins to kill Veronica from the inside. To ensure Veronica's survival Balthazar traps her, with Morgana, in the Grimhold, a large nesting doll. Both facades of Veronica and Morgana are displayed on the outer shell. Before he dies, Merlin tells Balthazar that he must find the child that will be born endowed with all of his powers, the Prime Merlinian, and gives him a small, metal dragon; a symbol of his magic. The Prime Merlinian will be the only one to stop Morgana. Balthazar searches the globe for the Merlinian, with no success. Over time, he battles evil sorcerers and adds them, in layers, to the Grimhold until, finally, he captures Horvath and seals him in the outermost layer.Centuries pass to the year 2000. A young boy named David Stutler (Jake Cherry) wakes up for school, greeted by his bulldog puppy, Tank. He the bus into New York City with his classmates on a field trip and draws a picture on the window which, at the right moment, makes it look as if King Kong is battling fighter planes on the Empire State Building. The act impresses his crush Becky (Peyton List). As the students rest on a side street later, Dave gives Becky a note asking her to choose whether she'd consider him as a friend or boyfriend. She writes her answer and leaves it on her bench seat but, before Dave can collect it, the note blows away in the wind. He follows it inside an antique store where Dave meets Balthazar who reprimands him for nearly knocking over a large urn, one reputed to suck anyone inside for ten years. Dave tries to explain that he was simply trying to catch a piece of paper and wound up in the store by coincidence, but Balthazar explains that there are no coincidences. Balthazar pulls out Merlin's dragon and asks Dave to hold it, saying that if it 'likes him' he can keep it. Dave takes the dragon which immediately springs to life and winds itself around his finger as a ring, revealing him as the Prime Merlinian.A relieved Balthazar explains to Dave that he's been searching the world for him and that he will grow up to be a powerful sorcerer but is, for now, Balthazar's apprentice. He tells Dave to remain in the shop and to avoid touching anything while he retrieves the book of spells from the basement. However, ever curious Dave finds that, upon moving his ring finger, a mysterious thud sounds from the wall above him. He raps the air harder and the Grimhold bursts out of the wall and lands on the floor in front of him. Dave picks it up and his touch activates the outer layer, breaking the shell open to reveal thousands of insects which meld together into a rejuvinated Horvath. He demands the Grimhold from Dave but is pinned on the ceiling by Balthazar. Horvath attacks, using his shillelagh-like staff to project his magic and Balthazar orders Dave to run with the Grimhold. In the ensuing battle, much of the store is destroyed and a fire ignites. Balthazar and Horvath are then sucked into the large urn as Dave runs outside and throws the Grimhold into the street. He is reunited with his teachers and classmates and tries to explain what just happend but, upon returning to the store, they find it untouched and empty. His classmates make fun of him while Becky can only look on sadly.10 years later, Dave is a physics genius at NYU and prefers to keep to himself. His roommate Bennet (Omar Benson Miller) tries to get him to 'participate' more but all Dave really wants to do is experiment with Tesla coils in a rented lab space, accompanied only by Tank. He has kept the dragon ring throughout the years but leaves it in the top shelf of his dresser. During one of his classes, he is reunited with Becky and learns that she works at a local radio station. Inspired by his newfound crush, Dave returns to his lab to work with the coils and the electricity they emit while listening to Becky's station.Meanwhile, after 10 years trapped, Horvath emerges from the antique urn, now owned by an elderly couple (Sándor Técsy and Marika Daciuk). Learning that he's the first to emerge, he takes the urn and tosses it out the window bidding farewell to Balthazar. Falling several stories, Balthazar manages to escape before the urn crashes to the ground. Horvath finds his way to Dave's apartment, guided there by an old school report of Dave's that was sucked into the urn with him. When Dave can't remember the whereabouts of the Grimhold, Horvath conducts a spell that sends a pack of wolves to chase Dave out of the building to nearby train tracks. Just as the wolves are about to pounce, Balthazar arrives on a large steel eagle; a gargoyle he plucked off the nearest high-rise, and turns the wolves into puppies. Balthazar takes Dave away as the next train arrives (and manages to save the puppies by imprinting them on paper which blows away).Balthazar takes Dave to the top of a building where he tells him that he must begin learning sorcery and help retrieve the Grimhold. Dave is naturally against doing anything but living a normal life until Balthazar summons Dave's dresser and pulls out the dragon ring. He then convinces Dave that, if he helps find the Grimhold, his obligations will come to an end and he can decide whether he wants to continue learning magic. Dave agrees. Using an atmospheric spell centered over the Grimhold's location, Balthazar finds that it's somewhere in Chinatown. Together, they go to an impound where Balthazar finds his old car and starts it up like new. On the way, Balthazar gives Dave the most basic of lessons in magic and tells him that the ring he wears is a focal point for the natural energy in Dave's body; without the ring, a sorcerer is powerless.Horvath returns to the antique shop to retrace the Grimhold's last location. Using a time spell, and the knowledge that Dave threw it into the street, he discovers that the Grimhold was picked up by an elderly Chinese shopkeeper (Wai Ching Ho).Balthazar pinpoint the Grimhold's location to an old shop and instructs Dave to keep an eye out on the street where a parade is takign place while he goes to fetch it. Upon entering the shop, Balthazar meets the old shopkeeper and inquires about the doll. When she falters, he compliments her in Chinese and she commends his Mandarin. However, Balthazar throws her against the wall and says that he spoke Cantonese; the old woman was Horvath in disguise who shows Balthazar the Grimhold, and another layer broken. The released wizard Sun-Lok (Gregory Woo) attacks Balthazar but is thrown out the window into the street. Dave goes to him to see if he's all right, but Balthazar advises him from above to run. While Balthazar battles with Horvath, and manages to take back the Grimhold, Dave attempts to elude the large, and very alive, dragon that Sun-Lok conjures from a group of revelers carrying a parade dragon. Balthazar advises Dave to fight back, much to Dave's bewilderment. However, Dave manages to conjure his first bout of magic and defeats the dragon and, subsequently, Sun-Lok. Excited with his first success, Dave agrees to learn magic from Balthazar.Dave introduces Balthazar to his lab space where they take up residence and begin practicing. Balthazar creates a Merlin Circle to help centralize Dave's magic and gives him a pair of what Dave calls 'old man shoes' that are supposed to help conduct the flow of energy. Balthazar tells Dave that, once he enters the Merlin Circle, there is no going back.Meanwhile, Horvath, after noticing the ring on Dave's finger and discovering that he is the Prime Merlinian, goes in search of an apprentice for himself. He is sent to the illusionist Drake Stone (Toby Kebbell) who happens to be a true sorcerer, albeit flamboyant and theatrical. He blames his alternative, magical lifestyle on the fact that his mentor disappeared and he attempted to blend into society doing what he does best - though not to the extent of Horvath. Horvath takes him to Battery Park in the financial district and points out the location for The Rising while Drake is distracted by signature-seeking fans.Dave and Balthazar rest on a bench while Dave waits for Becky to finish her shift at the radio station. When he sees her, Balthazar asserts that love is nothing but a distraction. Despite his warnings, Dave runs to meet Becky and accompanies her down to the subway. They're attacked by a mugger (Jason R. Moore) who runs off with Becky's bracelet, a gift from her grandmother. Dave runs after the mugger and uses magic to lock the gateways out of the upper subway level before confronting the man. While the mugger is initially confused with Dave's awkward stance, he is surprised to see Dave lift a garbage bin and set it on fire before he's knocked out by it. Dave retrieves Becky's belongings and invites her to visit his lab the following day. She agrees.The next day, Becky stops by as Dave and Balthazar are practicing magic. Dave eagerly puts off the lesson to accomodate Becky and Balthazar, who introduces himself as Dave's uncle, makes light of the situation and comes up with an excuse to leave them alone for the moment. He goes back to his old antique shop and goes into the basement where he takes a necklace wrapped in fine cloth out of his secret hiding place. Dave shows Becky his Tesla coils situated around the room and invites her into a small 'cage' where his main console is located. Using his computer, he programs the coils to emit electric bolts through the air at differing frequencies, causing spurts of sound which, when timed right, sound like music. Dave plays a song that Becky played during her shift and he explains that her passion for music rekindled his passion for science...and her. He admits he's sappy as they watch the rest of the light show. Later, he drops her off at her yoga class and she agrees to see him again later that night.Dave goes into the restroom where he's confronted by Drake, who addresses him as the Prime Merlinian. Confused at first, Dave is horrified to see Horvath come in after Drake. Horvath mocks Dave's faith in Balthazar and claims the man is not what he seems and that he's been withholding. He also detects that Dave is in love and threatens to end the relationship if Dave doesn't hand over the Grimhold which, he says, Dave actually knows nothing about. Balthazar comes to Dave's rescue and the two return to the lab where Dave confronts Balthazar about what Horvath told him. Balthazar reveals that the inner-most layer of the doll contains Morgana who was contained by Veronica. Balthazar and Horvath were in love with Veronica while they were apprentices to Merlin, but Veronica only reciprocated Balthazar's love. The necklace Balthazar took from his old shop was intended for Veronica. Heartbroken, Horvath betrayed them for Morgana. The purpose of Dave's training was to prepare him to be strong enough to fight Morgana and end the threat against the world once and for all. He will be ready once he is able to perform magic without the assistance of the ring. Stunned, Dave rejects the idea and ushers Balthazar out of the lab so he can prepare for Becky's arrival. Realizing the lab is an utter mess and he has little time to shower, Dave performs a spell reminscient of Mickey's from Fantasia. However, as in the original, the mops and brooms soon wreak havoc on the lab and flood it as Becky arrives. Dave is forced to send her away and, while unsuccessfully trying to stop the maniacal mops, nearly falls into electrocuted water but is saved again by Balthazar who scolds him for abusing magic. Dave argues in frustration with magic and not being able to perform it well before leaving the lab in a huff.He walks downtown and sees Becky in a coffee shop talking with other friends. He walks away but not before Becky notices him. She follows him to the top of a building where he stands on the roof, contemplating getting rid of his dragon ring. She tells him that she noticed him looking sadder than usual and tries to boost his confidence by saying that one botched date wasn't going to make her hate him. They reminisce about their childhood and Becky says that what she likes about him is that he saw the world differently than other people and thought he was cool for it.Balthazar cleans the lab of the remaining water as Dave walks in again. However, Balthazar notices too late that 'Dave' is actually Drake in disguise and is tied up to a coil fan. Horvath enters and finds the Grimhold before attacking Balthazar. The real Dave enters and saves Balthazar at the last moment while Horvath and Drake escape. Balthazar and Dave give chase along the city streets, transforming the oldsmobile into a sleek sportscar. As the chase carries on, Horvath and Drake transfer to a garbage truck that crushes Balthazar's car. Balthazar and Dave escape and pursue Horvath by foot. Horvath taps a passing woman in the crowd to make her look like Veronica, distracting Balthazar and allowing Horvath to escape.At Drake's pad, Horvath reveals that it will take a great deal of power to release Morgana's shell and employs the 'parasite' spell on Drake, stealing his energy and killing him in the process. This allows him to crack the second-to-last shell which frees Abigail Williams (Nicole Ehinger), a young witch from Salem whom he sends to kidnap Becky. Once that is done, Horvath steals Abigail's energy as well.Balthazar and Dave track Horvath's location to Drake's pad where they split up to find the Grimhold. Balthazar becomes trapped in a Persian rug with a quicksand-like center while Dave finds the Grimhold. However, Horvath confronts him, holding Becky hostage. Horvath tells Dave that he will release Becky if Dave hands over his ring and the Grimhold. Dave obliges and Horvath leaves. Balthazar frees himself and finds Dave somber, though he defends the choice he made. Balthazar agrees that it was the right choice but advises Dave to stay behind while he faces Horvath alone. He then flies off for Battery Park on the steel eagle while Dave attempts to explain to a bewildered Becky everything that just happened. Determined to help Balthazar, Dave comes up with a plan and calls Bennet for assistance. They attach one of Dave's Tesla coils to the front of the oldsmobile and Dave drives out towards Battery Park with Becky, upon her insistence to help him.Balthazar arrives at the park where Horvath has released Morgana, still in Veronica's body. Morgana begins to chant ancient rites in a circle and uses the satellite dishes on the nearby rooftops to reflect beams of magic into the form of a pentacle. Horvath detects Balthazar's presence and engages him in battle, bringing to life a large brass bull which focuses on Balthazar.As Dave and Becky drive closer, Dave sees the beams of energy produced by Morgana. Becky elects to help and Dave tells her to climb to the top of one of the buildings and disrupt the flow between the discs. Before she leaves, he asks her what she wrote on the piece of paper he gave her 10 years ago. She says she'll tell him so long as he doesn't die. While she climbs to the roof, Dave manages to drive the oldsmobile right into the brass bull harassing Balthazar and uses the Tesla coil on the front to disarm and incapacitate Horvath. Balthazar's steel eagle then swoops down and carries the bull away before it can charge again. At that moment, Becky is able to knock one of the dishes out of place just as the spell is under way. All the dead sorcerers that had begun to rise disintegrate and the spell rebounds and knocks Morgana unconscious. Balthazar runs to her and, seeing that both Veronica and Morgana are still alive, performs what Veronica did. He takes Morgana into himself and revives Veronica. Balthazar winces in pain as Morgana possesses him and forces herself out of his body, manifesting in a misty haze of her former body. She attacks Balthazar and Veronica but Dave rushes in and is able to deflect her attacks without the power of the ring.Morgana focuses her attacks on Dave who uses his magic to summon electrical wires to the spot. At the right moment, he bombards Morgana with a series of electrical pulses which disable her powers. He is then able to barrage her with plasma balls and destroy her. Elated over his victory, Dave runs to Balthazar to celebrate but finds that he's collapsed in Veronica's arms. She sadly tells Dave that he's gone, but Dave won't give in. Veronica steps back as Dave uses electrical energy to restart Balthazar's heart, all while frustratingly insulting him. Balthazar comes back to life and thanks Dave before embracing Veronica and giving her the necklace he bought her. Becky arrives at the park and greets Dave. They embrace and kiss and Becky tells him 'girlfriend, definitely girlfriend'. Dave summons the steel eagle and invites Becky to have breakfast in Paris with him. They hop on the eagle and fly off into the night, David admitting that he 'doesn't know how to land this thing'.A secret ending reveals Horvath's hat in Balthazar's study, the hat that had been left behind following the battle with Morgana. A dark figure collects the hat, carrying a cane, and strolls out of the study.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Directed by: Jon Turteltaub
Starring: Nicolas Cage (Balthazar Blake), Jay Baruchel (Dave), Alfred Molina (Maxim Horvath), Teresa Palmer (Becky Barnes), Toby Kebbell (Drake Stone), Omar Benson Miller (Bennet)
Screenplay: Mark Rosenthal, Lawrence Konner, Matt Lopez, Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro
Score: 63 %