Headscratchers / The Sorcerer's Apprentice

     Ancient sorcerers 
  • Considering that there were evil sorcerers before Morgana, and by extension good sorcerers before Merlin, why are the sorcerers before them also split into merlinians and morganians? How does that make sense when there is an evil sorcerer in Egypt who by some strange loop follows the path of a person who did not exist at the time ?
    • Maybe Merlin and Morgana were older than the middle ages?
    • Maybe after Merlin and Morgana became so powerful/famous, their supporters just kind of formed systems based on each of their ideologies. There probably would be some eclectic sorcerers out there who don't adhere to either group. This could be something that would have come up in one of the sequels, which, as far as I know, aren't getting made (but they wanted to).
      • Going off of that, sorcerers from before their time get retroactively described as 'proto-Merlineans/Morganians' depending on their general ideology?

    No supervision for giant makeshift speakers? 
  • So a college junior gets the funding and permission to rent a subway turnaround, turn it into a lab, and build a bunch of Tesla coils (which he doesn't seem to use for anything but the world's biggest plasma speaker) all without any sort of supervision whatsoever.
    • Thatís just what we see him doing with it for the big romantic moment. He expressly says that he was doing some kind of research and the whole plasma speaker thing was something he had never noticed or thought about until he listened to her radio show.

     Old Man Shoes 
  • Blake taking offence at the "old man shoes" comment. He's more than a thousand years old.
    • So because he's old, he's not allowed to take offense at the comment?
    • I thought he was just messing with Dave there. He's certainly shown himself to be snarky enough for it.
    • Old people don't really like to be told they're old. Just ask one.

     The Mop Scene 
  • The out of control mop scene had to take place, obviously. But, nothing had been said before that scene to suggest it was possible. Dave was having trouble creating plasma balls, and suddenly he can give mops self-awareness, and also allow them to continue a task that he couldn't stop? It was funny, but didn't make sense in the context of what we had seen before.
    • I think the movie could have done without the scene. There really wasn't any need to tie it in to the Fantasia segment, even if they wanted to keep the name (I didn't instantly think of Mickey and the mops when I first heard the name) How much of their primary audience has actually seen Fantasia anyway? I think we would have been better off seeing a montage of him actually learning to use his magic, so him busting out at the end would be a bit more believable.
    • Perhaps the scene was to show how powerful Dave is when he's not trying too hard and simply doing what comes naturally. Also, I kept expecting Balthazar to rather pointedly ask if he took the ring off at any point while the mops were doing their thing.
    • YMMV, I guess, for me that scene was a must - I'd think there's something wrong with the movie if they hadn't put it in. As for how it was possible... the way I understand it, creating plasma balls and controlling mops were two different kinds of magic. The first one was "focus hard enough on creating a plasma ball and there you go", while in the second one Dave seemed to have used an actual spell, which he wasn't skilled enough to execute properly. He had enough natural talent to make it work, but either made it work in a slightly wrong way or just had no idea how to stop it.
      • keep in mind that this is pretty much exactly what happened in the Disney short, too: Apprentice Mickey tried working a complex spell that he couldn't control which got out of hand.

    Where Are The Rest Of Them? 
  • Why is it that after over a millennium Balthazar only trapped 3 Morganians in the Grimhold? The way the prologue explained it I thought there would be at least 5.
    • They couldn't do that for the same reason that Abigail only got two scenes: it would be far too interesting.
      • Maybe Horvath's pulled the 'steal the Grimhold, release sorcerers to try to get to the Morgana layer' plan before? He wasn't captured until the 1920s, after all, according to the novelization and the Art Of book. He seemed pretty familiar with the thing, after all, and he and Balthazar had been fighting over the Grimhold for about twelve hundred years. You think in all that time someone as badass as Horvath is supposed to be WOULDN'T have managed to capture the Grimhold once or twice? Presumably Balthazar came and foiled him in the past often enough that he never reached Sun Loc, Abigail, and Morgana. He just got lucky enough this time to have the time and resources to be able to actually get down to Morgana in the film. Out of story, they didn't have the time or the budget, sadly. The Art Of book does indicate that they wanted more Morganians.
    • Implications were that Balthazar was actually killing most of the Morganians he fought. The Grimhold was probably a tool for holding powerful Morganians that for one reason or another Balthazar couldn't kill outright (either due to raw power or circumstances).
    • Perhaps Balthazar was holding the Morganians until he was powerful enough to kill them. Notice that he only defeats Sun Loc with help from Dave, and it's Horvath that kills Abigail. Given how long Balthazar has been doing this, he probably trapped other Morganians, leveled up for a few decades, then released them into the warm clutches of a Curb-Stomp Battle.

     Becky's Role 
  • Okay...'takes deep breath'...WHAT THE HELL DID BECKY DO?! I mean, seriously, other than to be pretty, get kidnapped once, and then kiss our hero at the end (no, not Nicolas Cage), what was the purpose of her character? I mean, if she had been a lifelong FRIEND of Dave's who helped him with his science stuff and was in on the sorcery from the beginning, but secretly harbored romantic feelings for him that he doesn't know about or reciprocate until the end of the movie after she, I don't know, does something for the good of the cause that puts her in danger, making him realize she's been there all along...anyways, if THAT happened...well, it'd still be infuriating as hell for being clichéd and predictable. BUT IT'D BE BETTER THAN WHAT BECKY DID IN THE MOVIE...WHICH WAS NOTHING! ...Sorry...unbridled rage for a moment.
    • She also broke Morgana's spell by moving the... whatever it was (I don't remember. Antenna?), preventing her from raising the dead. Just a tiny little thing. Other than that, well, she was just supposed to be the hero's love interest, not a major heroine or anything, and I think she was good enough in that role. Perhaps she wasn't an awesome, fascinating character with a unique personality and such, but not every character has to be.
    • The problem with her moving Chekhov's Gun is it felt too tacked on. "Hey, writers, maybe we should try to give the blonde some sort of purpose in the climax, so she doesn't come off as one of those characters who would serve no purpose otherwise. Oh, I know! She can move the plot point in the end!"
    • She was meant to be a representation of the most desirable aspects of normalcy, and thus everything Dave thought he would lose if he followed Balthazar's path. Indeed, there were more than a few scenes in which he actively made a choice between the two. Giving her significant ties to the magical elements of the film would undermine that.
    • I figured she was added to tone down the loads and loads of subtext between Dave and Balthazar.
    • I found the character refreshing for avoiding a variety of clichés. She doesn't sneer at the geek. She's not the screaming Damsel in Distress at the end, she actually faces her fear of heights and moves a sizeable piece of electronic hardware, breaking the circle and interrupting the mass raising of the dead. She doesn't treat Dave like a lunatic and believes his story (albeit backed up with evidence she's already seen). She doesn't have a big, psychojock boyfriend. She appreciates the geek romance and cares enough about Dave to follow him after the coffee shop incident.
      • I agree with all of this. Honestly all of the deriding of Becky as "nothing but the hero's love interest" and ignoring her actual contributions as well as her overall role in the story, is kind of sexist. It's like some people want to see any female who's not the primary hero and singlehandedly saving the day without breaking a sweat as being a weak quivering helpless girl, and it's pretty misogynist.

     The Hair 
  • Why does Balthazar keep that ridiculous hairstyle? We saw him with considerably saner hair at several points in the opening narration, and the policeman scene clearly shows that he can change it at will. Did he get tired of blending in?
    • Maybe he just likes the crazy man hairstyle?
      • Um, he was busy with training Dave, dealing with Horvath and Co, planning for foiling Morgana, and catching up on research on the fusion spell? He was a teeny bit busy and had other things on his mind. Hair care does take second place to saving the world...

     Mirror Trap Vs Mirror Universe 
  • In the car chase, Horvath uses the mirror dimension trick to try to trap Dave and Balthazar, who escape through another reflective surface (I think it was a window). That part works. What I'm wondering is why, earlier in the film when Balthazar traps Horvath in the bathroom mirror, Horvath seems to require the assistance of the other sorcerer (whose name escapes me at the moment) to get him out. You think he'd be able to get back out through the mirror, because it is a reflective surface.
    • Could be that the spell specifies he needs a second mirrored surface, different than the one he was stuck in. Else it wouldn't be much of trap, would it?
      • It was a different spell. The First is described as a "Mirror Trap" while the second is "Mirror universe". WMG: The first spell allows only movement within where the mirror can "see", while the second is a different spell, easier to cast while on the run, that creates a mirror universe.
      • In that case, why didn't Horvath find another reflective surface instead of waiting for Drake to get him out? It probably would've been quicker.
      • If the Troper before you is correct & the first spell only allows movement within sight of the trapping mirror, then Horvath couldn't leave the room to find another reflective surface elsewhere.
    • Horvath admits that he hasn't seen the Mirror Trap used in a while, suggesting he might not be familiar with it - maybe he legitamately thought another sorcerer had to release him, and that's why he didn't think to go find another mirror. That, or Balthazar went around and broke all the other mirrors in the building before he left, and Horvath didn't want to go outside to find one.

  • Veronica. Okay, apologies in advance for the length of this.
    • On the one hand, pretty damn cool she did a Heroic Sacrifice by pulling a reverse Grand Theft Me on Morgana and then allowing herself to be sealed in the Grimhold. She also provided a sympathetic backstory for Balthazar, whose love for her was a Foil to Dave and Becky's (whether either was convincing is a separate matter—maybe they were equally a Satellite Love Interest) and showed Balthazar really did understand how Dave felt, and she acted as a parallel to Dave through her I Just Want to Be Normal desire.
    • On the other hand, she provides the excuse for Horvath to go evil thanks to the Love Triangle, and once freed from Morgana's possession was reduced to only a cowering Distressed Damsel. Okay, she'd been trapped in the Grimhold for centuries while also possessed by Morgana, so you'd imagine that she'd be a little weak/drained/out-of-sorts when she got out, as well out-of-practice magically. But she was supposed to be an apprentice to freakin' Merlin. Balthazar and Horvath are portrayed as fiendishly powerful, and so is Dave as the Prime Merlinean, but other than her being "the only sorcerer to have successfully done the human fusion spell" her magic acts otherwise as an Informed Ability.
    • She does apparently participate briefly in the shield against Morgana's spell with Dave and Balthazar (freeze-frame on the DVD is your friend), but otherwise she doesn't do anything to help, just crouches over Balthazar and cradles him. She doesn't even do anything to try and help Dave resuscitate him. Yes, the movie was all about the Chosen One coming into his powers, and he was prophesied as The Only One Allowed To Defeat Her, but surely she could have helped somehow. At the very least having housed Morgana in her for centuries she might have learned some powerful spells or perhaps even a weakness she could have told Dave.
    • What makes this worse is, apparently she was intended to have a larger role. The Making Of shows her (as well as Balthazar and Dave) holding off Morgana's fire attack, and the novelization includes this as well. The latter also has her understand what Dave is trying to do, agreeing that using the lingering power of Morgana's circle could just be the only way to save Balthazar. If memory serves she even instructs him a bit. As it is though, it all starts to sound like a really big Double Standard since all the women in the movie are ineffectual or evil. Here's hoping if they do get to make the sequel, we get to see Veronica do real magic, as well as be badass. I'd love to see her help take on Chernabog.
    • Let's not forget that Veronica was, according to Balthazar, the one who "always just wanted to be normal", just like Dave. While they could've done more to have her convey this side of herself when she actually appears onscreen, in my opinion, it still would've been weird if they'd brought it up not only to not mention it later, but have her completely go against it by using magic to fight with no reservations.

  • So, seems like the New York City skyline has not really changed that much between 2000 and 2010 in the movie?
    • Not much of an issue story-wise, honestly, and adding the towers in digitally, while possible, was probably considered a bad idea for obvious reasons.

     Music in a Faraday Cage 
  • When he's down in his lab, he closes the door to his little Faraday Cage control room there on the floor. Then he turns on the Radio.

     Where'd They Go Afterwards? 
  • I may be missing something here, but what happened to Drake and Abigail? I know that Horvath used the Parasite Spell to drain their powers, and according to The Other Wiki, that killed them. But if that's the case, what happened to their bodies? When Balthazar enters Drake's office (when he finds the Persian quick-rug) where we saw Horvath use the spell a few scenes earlier, Drake is nowhere to be seen. Same thing when Dave finds the Grimhold - no Abigail. Did they turn to dust? Are their bodies still in Drake's apartment for Drake's unsuspecting maid to find? It really annoys me that both of them just vanish when it would have been incredibly simple to show them turning to dust or something.
    • Either Horvath destroyed the bodies (simple enough for someone who can rearrange matter), or he just moved them out of the way, and you're right, they'll probably be found later. Headline: Stage magician dies in perverted suicide pact with underage girl!

     Just Steal The Ring 

     Rules for Magic, Part 1 
  • Which one of the scriptwriters thought it would be a good idea to make that comment about converting electricity from the nervous system into magic? I mean... These are sorcerers. You don't need to explain how they work. A sorcerer just did that. The only thing youíll achieve by trying to give a "scientific" explanation to the magic is attacks by angry fans who'll tell you how much research you didn't do... Just to be clear, I am not bugged about the scientific inaccuracies (that's a matter for another IJBM entry), I am bugged about the decision to put the science into the script in the first place where it was absolutely unnecessary and could only lead to trouble.
    • Chekhov's Gun to set up how the Tesla Coil is similar to Plasma Bolts
    • YMMV. That was the Sufficiently Analyzed Magic trope, that, to me, is awesome. How would you react if, in a hard science fiction movie, everything was explained away as "A scientist did it"?
    • But this is not a hard science fiction movie, it's a fantasy movie! This is part of the difference between them...
    • Dave's a science student. From a scientific perspective, there's nothing supernatural: Just the misunderstood and undiscovered. Dave would be interested in how magic fit in with physics in general.
    • I think headscratchers pages have made it perfectly clear that anything that is not explained in agonizing detail is going to leave some people aching for an explanation.

     Rules for Magic, Part 2 
  • In relation to the above, the explanation of how sorcery works is completely ridiculous for this simple reason: what the sorcerers are shown actually doing in the movie directly conflicts with what they should be able to do based on Balthazar's exposition of how they do it. If all they do is "use their minds to manipulate the atoms around them," then, just to name three examples, Horvath should not be able to summon wolves (creating matter from nothing), Balthazar should not be able to turn said wolves into puppies (apparently banishing their excess mass back into the nothing it came from), and neither should be able to send anyone to a Mirror Universe. These things are a lot more complex than simply rearranging the matter around them. There is no shame in simply hand-waving everything with "it's just magic" to explain how magical effects are achieved, but if you decide to actually explain how magic works, then it damn well better work the way you say it should.
    • It's New York City. Air pollution has mass, even if you have to suck up a lot of it to get a wolf out of it.
      • You don't even need air pollution. You just need air.
      • More specifically: air contains oxygen and nitrogen. Pollution contains hydrocarbons, which are made of hydrogen and carbon. Living beings are made of oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon. See where this is going? And this is just if we consider that wizards can only move atoms around. If, instead, they can also move protons and neutrons around, even transmutations become a piece of cake.
    • This is just Wild Mass Guessing on my part, but it's possible the whole "use your mind to manipulate matter at the atomic level" (basically alchemy à la Fullmetal Alchemist) is just the start. Like, beginners magic is bending the laws of reality, and advanced magic is breaking them entirely.
    • Actually, pulling matter from nowhere is not impossible, scientifically. It happens all the time on the subatomic scale, but they usually immediately vanish or cause something else to vanish, conserving mass. Creating mass from nowhere does bend the conservation rule, but it's not ENTIRELY impossible. Like the person above me said, it's probably far more advanced then 'simple' atomic manipulation; that was the 'for dummies' version; Sorcery 101. And Balthazar DOES say, early on, that it's both science AND magic, so some of what they do is just... magic.
    • On very, very high temperatures, electrons, and even protons, pop into existence from pure energy. Fuse electrons with protons, and you have neutrons to build atoms. Fuse small atoms into big atoms. Here you are, matter. You just need a LOT of heat.

     Horvath and the 1920s Gangster Look 
  • Three major things within the first half hour. One, why after being released, did Horvath resemble a 1920's gangster since he was sealed since Arthurian times? Two, how did Dave get a bunch of Tesla Coils and a huge laboratory on a presumably small salary? Three, Horvath goes after the Grimhold in Chinatown because an Asian man picks it up. Not like he was a tourist, but he was just Asian. Also how does he know what China Town is?
    • In regards to Horvath, he hasn't been trapped since Arthurian times. He's the outer layer of the doll, which means he's the most recent capture. He very well could have been caught in the 1920's or a little later. Which means he could very well know what Chinatown is. As for why he automatically assumed the Asian person was from Chinatown and not from somewhere else... lucky guess?
    • 1 I figured Horvath was captured at the turn of the last century since he was captured after Sun Lok (Opium Wars, I guessed since he appears Chinese) and Abigail Williams (Salem Witch Trials).
    • 2 I figured Dave's professor got the research grant, and when he saw how smart Dave was he just let him run with it.
    • 3 Lucky guess. Someone from the turn of the last century would have likely thought that anyone dressed in Chinese traditional garb was from Chinatown. There's also no explanation given of how far he can cast that spell.
      • Per an answer farther up the page, according to the Art Of book and the novelization, Horvath was originally captured in the 1920's. Thus before this he would have been wandering the world recruiting Morganians and trying to capture the Grimhold; in the process he would be learning of the fashions and cultures of the period in order to fit in, the same as Balthazar was, and thus could have the clothing he did and know what a Chinatown was. Him guessing the Grimhold was taken to Chinatown could either be having cast the spell farther to see where the man went, or a bit of racism on his part; the fact he happened to be right is just a Plot Device/Contrived Coincidence.

     Bad Liarism 
  • Does Dave being a bad liar hold any actual significance in the film? Balthazar states at one point that "it's a good sign", but it never comes up in any meaningful way.
    • My guess would be that Balthazar considers being a bad liar to be a sign of being a good person.