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Dave Stutler: How do you know my name?
Balthazar: Because I can read minds! ...It's on your backpack.
Centuries ago, the great wizard Merlin trained three apprentices: Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage), Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina), and Veronica (Monica Bellucci). However, Horvath betrayed them to Morgana LeFay (Alice Krige), resulting in Merlin's death. In the aftermath Veronica and Morgana ended up trapped in an artifact known as the Grimhold, in which Balthazar later manages to trap Horvath. With his dying breath Merlin tasked Balthazar with finding his heir, the Prime Merlinian, who can end Morgana's evil forever.
Centuries pass with Balthazar travelling the world, hunting down evil sorcerers and seeking the Prime Merlinian, until the year 2000 when he finally finds him in the young Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel), a boy living in Manhattan. Unfotunately, Horvath escapes just long enough to force Balthazar to trap them both for ten years. In 2010 both Horvath and Balthazar escape. Horvath seeks to release Morgana once again and now Balthazar has to track down Dave and teach him the magic arts.
Just keep in mind that if something doesn't make sense, A Sorcerer Did It.
- Adaptation Expansion: ...not of a book, or a series...but rather...of a stand alone animation sequence. Which in itself was an adaptation of a ballad by Goethe and a musical composition by Dukas.
- Based on a tale from Lucian
- Adorkable: Dave.
- Aerith and Bob: Balthazar and Dave.
- All Asians Are Alike: First simply alluded to when Balthazar tests an old Chinese woman by speaking Cantonese. Since it was Horvath in disguise, he responds in English saying "Oh, you speak Mandarin!" which tells Balthazar that this woman is actually Horvath in disguise.
- Later Played for Laughs and Lampshaded when Balthazar, disguised as a policeman, tells other servicemen that the visitors of the "Asian festival" (in Chinatown) were "hitting on the sake" too hard. Dave nearly blows their "slightly ignorant beat cop" disguise by correcting him, saying that "Actually, sake's Japanese." Balthazar later tells him off for not staying in character.
- Alliterative Name: Balthazar Blake. Also an Awesome McCoolname.
- Always Save the Girl: David gives up his ring and the Grimhold to save Becky. Balthazar admits he would have done the same.
- And I Must Scream: Blake and Horvath are trapped in an urn for ten years. They do have things to read; Horvath has Dave's essay on Napoleon (and probably a few of his other papers) and Blake was hinted to have the Encantus. Morgana and Veronica were trapped in the Grimhold for over a millennium, though, unlike the urn, it isn't expressly stated that the Grimhold prisoners are conscious.
- And That's Terrible:
Balthazar: Horvath wants to free his fellow Morganians and destroy the world. THIS. MUST. NOT. HAPPEN.
- Apocalypse How: Morgana intends to bring about either a Class 2 or a Class 3a by raising an army of spellcasting zombies.
- The Apprentice: Dave.
- Asshole Victim: I guess Horvath showed that idiot in the car why it's a good idea to be polite to strangers.
- Badass Longcoat: Balthazar.
- Bad Boss: Horvath, see You Have Outlived Your Usefulness.
- Bad Liar: Dave being one is considered a good thing.
- Big Applesauce
- Bigger on the Inside: The Encantus, thanks to a 'pocket edition' fold-up spell.
- Black Best Friend: Bennet seems only to be there to show that Dave has one!
- Blond Guys Are Evil: Okay, Drake isn't all that evil. But still.
- Charm Person: Horvath uses this when trying to find David. Lampshaded by his own apprentice. "These are not the droids you are looking for".
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The urn, although admittedly it doesn't take very long to fire. The bull statue took a little bit longer.
- The radio tower at the station Becky works are made into a small plot point, and Dave's Tesla Coils are made into a very prominent set piece.
- The Chosen One: David is the "Prime Merlinian".
- Creepy Child: Abigail.
- Crucified Hero Shot: Balthazar chained to an appliance in Dave's lab.
- Cool Car
- Dawson Casting: The 28-year old Jay Baruchel as the 20-year old Dave.
- Deadpan Snarker: Horvath falls into this.
Horvath: (after rematerializing from the urn) Am I the first one out?
Old woman faints
Horvath: That's a yes...
- Dramatic Deadpan: Balthazar specializes in this.
Balthazar: [as the floor starts sucking him in] Persian quick-rug. And he said I was old-fashioned.
- Development Gag: Chernabog does appear as a gargoyle on the street corner of the Arcana Cabana, often being focused on in scenes featuring Horvath.
- Disney Death: Balthazar.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Sun Lok, Abigail, Drake.
- Or in Sun Lok's case, they dropped a flaming dragon on him.
- Evil Brit: Horvath. His apprentice, however, is more of an ineffectually evil Brit.
- Evil Counterpart: Balthazar & Horvath, who both started out as apprentices to Merlin.
- Evilly Affable: Maxim Horvath. He's polite. He's charming. He's impeccably dressed and well-mannered. He's witty, intelligent, clever, well-read, culturally literate, and erudite. And he's a Complete Monster perfectly willing to slaughter innocent bystanders if they get in his way.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: Invoked accidentally: "Your plan was to turn our car in a 1993 Pinto?"
"No my plan was to turn THEIR car into a beater!"
- Fail O'Suckyname: Dave Stutler (sounds like "stutter") doesn't sound particularly badass.
- Fake American: Becky is played by an Australian.
- Fat and Skinny: Bennett, Dave's roommate, is a tad big. Dave, on the other hand, is stick thin. This is even noted by Drake in the bathroom scene!
- Friendly Local Chinatown
- Freudian Excuse: Well, let us see... Poor Drake was left by his master at age fifteen with no explanation. He even says himself he has issues with it, but he doesn't seem to show it very often, if not at all. Horvath could be a candidate for this as well, since he lost his love, but that doesn't give him the excuse to destroy humanity and turn evil.
- Full-Contact Magic: Several times, Horvath and Balthazar end up straight-out punching each other.
- Giant Flyer: The steel eagles from the Chrysler Building are brought to life in the film by Balthazar as a means of getting around the city.
- Groin Attack: Self inflicted. Ouch.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Veronica made one back in the Middle Ages, casting a reverse Grand Theft Me spell to trap Morgana's soul in her body, then convincing Balthazar to trap them both in the Grimhold. Balthazar attempts the same thing with less successful results. His planning to go off alone to take on Horvath and Morgana may also be considered one.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Being a real rock n' rolla means being a big famous illusionist?
- Historical In-Joke: As it turns out, there was a witch in Salem... the one who accused everyone else. In fact, the real-life Abigail Williams fled Salem when the witch trials were coming to a close. In real life, she probably either died or made a new life under a different name, but in the context of the film this could easily be explained as Balthazar having captured her. And yes, she really was a child instead of the seductive teen in The Crucible.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Horvath steals the rings/amulets of Dave and the various Morganians he's allied himself with, making himself powerful enough to free Morgana unaided. All that extra power, however, makes him an easy target for Dave's tesla coil.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Said word-for-word by Dave, but unfortunately The Call Knows Where You Live in the form of Horvath. Also stated by Balthazar to be a desire Veronica had.
- Inept Mage: Dave, when he's not too busy being awesome.
- Info Dump: It is also sort of misleading. It said that over the centuries Balthazar fought various evil sorcerers, trapping them within layers of the doll, and he eventually captured Horvath as well. One may be left with the impression that before Morgana is released, a horde of evil sorcerers and sorceresses would have to be released. In the end, the doll only contains three villains besides Morgana.
- Instant Runes: only for very special purposes and are appropriately seldom used.
- Insult Backfire: Dave asks Blake if he's insane, to which Blake gives a "little bit" sign.
- Invisible to Normals: Pure magic spells like energy projection are invisible to regular humans. Becky is incapable of seeing a giant fiery pentagram traced across the sky, for example. Matter manipulation, telekinesis, and similar spells, on the other hand, are fully visible, since they're acting upon visible objects.
- It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: In this case, the Chinese New Year in the N.Y. Chinatown.
- I Was Just Joking: At the start of the movie, Balthazar.
Dave: How did you know my name was Dave?
Balthazar: BECAUSE I CAN READ MINDS.
(Dave gives a shocked expression)
Balthazar: It's on your backpack.
- Jedi Mind Trick: Used by Horvath on a clerk to get around needing an identification card. Drake Stone promptly lampshades this by waving his hand and says, "These are not the droids you are looking for!", earning him an annoyed look.
- Of course, Horvath likely has no idea what a "droid" even is, given that he, essentially, slept through Star Wars and didn't have time to catch up on current cultural trends.
- Kick the Dog: Any savvy viewer could tell that the driver was dead the moment he honked at Horvath.
- Kamehame Hadoken: Now in Rapid-Fire variety! Really, it's much closer to a Magic Missile attack. It's even explicitly a "sorcerer's basic offensive ability".
- Knight in Sour Armor: As with most family/children's movies the dark elements of the story are merely alluded to. But there a a few scenes and lines that point to Balthazar Blake being one.
- Lovable Nerd: Dave, of course.
- Love Makes You Evil: Horvath, whatever shall we do with you?
- Love Triangle: Balthazar and Horvath battle it out for Veronica.
- Mad Scientist Laboratory: Dave's underground workshop. Complete with Tesla Coils.
- Magic A Is Magic A: They don't go into an extreme amount of detail regarding how magic works, but it is consistent regarding the actions and concentration of the user and the need for a Ring of Power to channel their magical ability. A circumventing of the normal rules is also present, and made into a major plot point.
- Magicians Are Wizards: Drake Stone, and loving it.
- Magic Versus Science: Subverted. Although not elaborated upon, magic here is noted to be at least partially grounded in science instead of being incompatible. In fact that is supposedly the reason Dave is so good with physics is because he has natural magical talent.
Dave: So, is sorcery science or magic?
Balthazar: Yes and yes.
- Magitek: Armed with the knowledge of the above, David combines magic and science to defeat Horvath and Morgana.
- Master of Illusion: Drake's whole thing is illusions. He uses it to make his living and even pretends to be Dave for a few seconds. It seems to be his favorite type of magic to use.
- Masquerade: ...Sort of. There does appear to be one, as fairly early into the movie Balthazar says it would be "complicated" if regular people found out about magic. After the first couple fights, however, it's not mentioned again, and the characters don't even bother trying to hide or disguise their magic anymore.
- The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life
- Matryoshka Object: Morgana's prison is a literal nesting doll. She's trapped at the center, and each of the other layers imprisons a different Morganian.
- Measuring the Marigolds: Dave has a mild case of this; it never occurs to him to make music with his Tesla coils until hooking up with music student Becky.
- Miles to Go Before I Sleep: Balthazar cannot die until he finds the Prime Merlinian.
- Minion with an F In Evil: Drake helps Horvath take the Grimhold and harasses Dave a bit, but when Horvath remarks that a group of children will be dead soon, he looks quite uncomfortable.
- Mirror World: What one gets stuck in after a certain "old-fashioned" spell.
- Mythology Gag:
- Moving broomsticks. The movie credits lists that it was the inspiration for this movie.
- Yensid's hat is seen in Balthazar's magic shop.
- The skull without the jaw that Yen Sid stores his butterfly color stuff in in the Fantasia short is there too.
- Never a Self-Made Woman
- Never Trust a Trailer: Horvath's Hannibal Lecture about power and control from the trailer? Nope, not in the movie!
- Nerds Are Sexy: The Tesla Coil music scene.
- Nice Hat:
- See Villainous Fashion Sense below.
- Also, Balthazar himself sported a nice wide-brim hat for a brief period of time early in the movie.
- 90% of Your Brain: According to Balthazar, sorcerers use all of their brains instead of just 10%.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Drake Stone is David Copperfield with real magical powers.
- Or maybe Criss Angel due to his alternative fashion sense.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Balthazar, Veronica.
- Offscreen Teleportation: The scene were Abigail kidnaps Becky. Even her outfit changes offscreen.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Made from a Chinese parade dragon.
- Person as Verb: Dave mentioned that his experience in 2000 made the local slang for having a breakdown "Pulling a Dave Stutler."
- Playing with Fire
- Product Placement: Drake Stone is immortalized as a planeswalker in Magic: The Gathering.
- Really Seven Hundred Years Old: Thanks to one of Merlin's spells, Balthazar stopped aging until he could find and train the Prime Merlinian.
- Right in Front of Me: Balthazar hands David a pair of sorcerer's shoes. He notes that they're "old man shoes". Balthazar, who's wearing a pair, remarks "Excuse me?"
- Ring of Power: For David and Balthazar specifically - a number of the wizards present cast their spells using other objects as well...like a cane, a pendant, and a belt buckle just to name a few. To be able to cast spells without it is what proves David's destiny as Prime Merlinian. It is worth noting that Horvath's cane appears to incorporate his ring as the head.
- Sealed Cast in a Multipack
- Sealed Evil in a Doll: Horvath, Sun Lok, Abigail, and Morgana.
- Sealed Evil in a Duel: Veronica/Morgana, if you consider that by taking Morgana's soul into her Veronica was essentially creating an ongoing battle with her Enemy Within inside of her. Judging by who was in control when they emerged, she lost.
- Sequel Hook: Horvath's hat is lying on the floor, and a hand reaches out to pick it up. Look more closely, and you'll find the silhouette quite familiar.
- Shadow Discretion Shot: Subverted during the shout-out mop scene.
- Shallow Love Interest: Becky falls under this, though she does have a major hobby and friends apart from Dave.
- Shock and Awe
- Balthazar's outfit, complete with snazzy hat, is exactly the same outfit Harry Dresden wears on the cover of his books. Complete with bulletproof
- Did anyone else see the Magic: The Gathering poster in Drake's office?
- Who could have missed Buzz Lightyear?
- Also, there was something very familiar about the way Dave took the Grimhold off the stand...
- Balthazar Blake's full name seems very much to be a shout out to Bastian Balthazar Bux.
- Balthazar's outfit, complete with snazzy hat, is exactly the same outfit Harry Dresden wears on the cover of his books. Complete with bulletproof
- Shrine to Self: Drake Stone sports a couple of partially-naked portraits of himself around the house.
- Sliding Scale of Anti-Heroes: Balthazar is Type II.
- Something He Would Never Say: Several times, but most prominently when Dave suddenly uses British slang, and Balthazar immediately understands that it's actually Drake in disguise.
- Sorcerers Apprentice: Under the same circumstances as Mickey Mouse.
- Spell Book: the Encantus
- The Stinger: Horvath comes back for his hat.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Horvath is generally not as powerful as Balthazar, but him keeping company with Drake does not help matters at all.
- Tagline: "It's the coolest job ever..."
- Teen Genius: David.
- Theme Initials: Ironically enough, Dave, the Merlinian apprentice, and Drake, the Morganian apprentice, both share the same initials, D. S.
- Time Skip: 10 years later... to the day.
- Token Romance: Dave's relationship with Becky, on its own, would've made a half-decent love story about a physics nerd and music buff falling in love. As a romantic subplot to this film, however, it felt like it was duct-taped on.
- Villainous Fashion Sense: Horvath.
- Walking the Earth: What Balthazar was doing until setting up shop in New York City.
- Weaponized Landmark:
- The Wall Street bull.
- The Chrysler Building eagle as well, considering that it is what took care of the bull.
- What Could Have Been: An earlier draft included an appearance by Chernabog himself in the climactic battle, though he'll be in the sequel if they get the chance.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to the second demon of the Grimhold?
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Becky mentions that she isn't fond of heights. You can guess what her role in the climax involves.
- Wizard Duel: it's kind of the point...as such, there are many.
- In Germany the film was actually released as "Duell der Magier", i.e. "duel of mages".
- The Worm That Walks: Apparently the case with the Hovath in the trailer, but it turns out to be a side effect of being trapped. Sun Loc materialized as butterflies. We don't get to see what Abigail was released as, though smoke pours out at the start. Veronica/Morgana emerges as repulsive black mud.
- Yellow Peril
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Horvath to...well, everyone except Morgana.
- Partially justified. The endgame has every evil wizard being resurrected anyway; this way they're puppets instead of independent.
- You're Insane!: Responded to by a smile and finger-measurement to show just how insane Balthazar is.