5 reasons a live-action Sorcerer's Apprentice might not suck

Disney unveiled never-before-seen footage from its upcoming live-action The Sorcerer's Apprentice at its D23 fan expo Friday in Anaheim, Calif., and from what we saw, there's reason to get excited about the adaptation of the animated short from Fantasia.

Star Nicolas Cage appeared on stage with Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook to introduce clips of the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced film and argue that the movie has something for everyone.

Cage plays sorcerer Balthazar Blake in the film. Though he sports his Con Air "Con Hair" locks in the film, he's once again clean-cut and sported a little Van Dyke goatee on the chin. Jay Baruchel plays Blake's reluctant apprentice, pressured into training in magic because there are scary bad guys who'll kill him whether he learns magic or not. So he might as well.

If you're worried that the Fantasia short on which the film is based isn't enough for a feature-length film or think Disney is cannibalizing its classic animated history, here are a few reasons to think The Sorcerer's Apprentice might not blow. The movie, directed by Jon Turteltaub, opens July 16, 2010.

1) The mops still dance. The clip package opened with the live-action version of the iconic Fantasia image of an army of mops marching along. Thanks to modern-day CGI, they look like real-world mops, photoreal and storming past the hapless apprentice. A fleeting shot also revealed a glimpse of the pointy blue hat, worn by Mickey Mouse in the short, resting under a glass case on the sorcerer's desk.

2) Car chases and action with magic. Think The Matrix Reloaded freeway chase, only with fewer rules. Characters can jump on speeding cars, but the sorcerer can also transform the car his apprentice is driving while it skids away from pursuers. There's also a magic-training montage with Cage and Baruchel exchanging energy blasts, a real live dragon raging through Chinatown and a Lost-style smoke monster.

3) Jack Sparrow-like jokiness> Bruckheimer, who also produced the hit Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, wouldn't remake a Disney property and play it straight. Both Blake and his apprentice get a few zingers. When Blake warns his trainee about the tough journey ahead, the boy responds, "So I should pee first?"

Later, after Blake causes a Bruckheimer-level fireball explosion, the apprentice asks if he's crazy. Blake gestures with thumb and forefinger: "a little bit."

4) Cage knows his Disney history. Cage is a lot of things: eccentric, intense, overwrought, sometimes hammy. One thing he is not is uneducated. He told the audience at D23 how well he knows Fantasia. "To me, Fantasia is the most beautiful movie ever made," Cage said. "It was also my interest to classical music. I watch it every year."

5) If you don't like it, the terrorists win. If you're still not sold, Cage asks you to think of the kids. Referencing Friday's anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Cage said: "A day like Sept. 11th put in focus what I want to accomplish as a producer." He added that nothing is more sacred than our children. What kind of person would take away laughter from children? You do love children, don't you?

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