This review was done by William Draven on behalf of ExoMagic. Hope you guys enjoy the review! Draven will have 1 every week from now on!
Let the review begin!
Title: Morgan's Liquid Metal
Artist: Morgan Strebler
Producers: Penquin Magic
Retail Price: $29.95 USD
Learning Difficulty: Moderate
Notes: Additional material will be required for performance & practice, but does not come with DVD. (forks)
1.Corkscrew Tine Bend
2.Fork U Fork
Morgan Strebler's Liquid Metal DVD takes you on a full in-depth tour-de-force of metal bending, and not only shows you how it looks in a real world setting, it goes above and beyond to teach you the skills you'll need to go out and perform Strebler's Liquid Metal routine for live audience members yourself! Morgan breaks down each part of his six phase routine, and takes you through the bends slowly so you learn the ins and outs of the effect. He also provides some great additional material in the Bonus section that you can incorporate into your act to add that extra “punch” to your show.
Lets face it there's a lot of material out there on metal bending. Everything from gimmick products to instructional DVD's and books. As soon as I put the DVD in and saw the first bend something ran through my mind. I was thinking to myself; “I've seen this some where before. Oh great, it's another Banachek rip off.” I almost pulled the DVD out of the player and canned the review right then and there. Boy am I glad I didn't. The quality of the educational portion of this video is great! Also, had I done that I would have missed something very important. The inclusion of Banachek's Tine bend and Corkscrew Bend were used with permission, as cited in the Credits section of the disk, and Morgan went as far as citing Banachek verbally twice during the explanation portion of the DVD.
The Introduction was kind of weak in my opinion. It really wasn't an introduction, it was more of a sizzle reel that was intended to be used for marketing and promotion. While I haven't watched any online trailers for this product I'm willing to bet that they consist of 100% footage made up from this section.
The performance section of the DVD is over 25 minutes long, and includes nine full performances for nine different audiences, and in different locations. Sure each performance is only a little over three minutes long, but it gets a bit tedious to watch this over and over again. After you see the same thing for the third time, it becomes a marathon to just finish the section, and avoid the urge to press chapter skip forward on the remote control. Now, don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with having multiple live performances to reference while you are learning this effect. Everything about Liquid Metal (and metal bending for that matter) depends on misdirection, timing, and the subtleties that you do on the off beat to make the magic work. It's a good thing to have multiple references in the real world to go back on and watch so you learn better. Obviously this was the idea Morgan was going for when he created the product, I just feel the impact was lessened in post production. I would have liked to have a chapter select option so I can go to individual performances as opposed to marathoning the entire thing strait through without breaks.
One of the things that I did enjoy was the diversity of real world settings you will encounter in the performance section of the DVD. You get to see Morgan work several crowds on the street, in nightclubs with very loud music, and even have to perform for a drunken heckler. Morgan even goes as far as to make reference to the drunk post performance in his address to the camera, my only regret is that he doesn't follow through with more detail. I understand that dealing with hecklers is a subject worthy of its own DVD product, but I felt that if you're going to put in a comment like that on a product then you should expand upon it a little better.
The Explanations portion of the DVD is where the real meat and potato's are of this product. This section gets further broken down into Method, Teaching Session, and Recap. The Method section takes you through his entire Liquid Metal routine, and teaches you all six phases one at a time. The nice thing about Morgan's product is the souvenir the spectator is left with at the end. Usually when a magician does metal bending they just put a bend or two into a fork or spoon, and move onto the next utensil. However with Morgan's Liquid Metal you use the same fork over, and over putting into it six different bends leaving behind a physical memory that the spectator can hold and take with them. In all my years of magic, I have to say anytime you can let a spectator walk away with the thing you did magic for them with, it creates a very powerful and lasting memory.
The Teaching Session part of this DVD is really unique. Morgan actually teaches someone in the studio how to do his entire routine, step by step. You get to watch someone learn it for the first time on camera, and watch as they ask the questions, and struggle with the obstacles that are typical of new comers to metal bending. Morgan's feedback to the neophyte is encouraging, and exposes some of the more intricate difficulties and how to over come them that may otherwise not surface on a more traditional approach to teaching on a DVD. Sometimes the key to learning something new is watching others learn with you, and this part of the DVD does a good job of accomplishing that.
If the Explanation, and Teaching Session taught you the routine, then the Recap section over teaches it- A selling point advertised on the product. Morgan goes through each phase quickly, and suggestive of the section title, gives you the quick and simple recap of what each phase is, and what you are going to do to make that phase work.
The Bonus material has some great little nuggets in it that could really add an extra punch to your metal bending show. I love the idea of putting a corkscrew bend into a tine on the fork. You want to talk about melting somebody's mind, if you can learn to pull that off during your show I think you'd leave the spectator with a piece that they won't forget, or explain. In Fork U Fork Morgan starts to get a little more into heckler control, which honestly is something I wish he would have done way sooner. He talks about a specific tine bend that he does for hecklers that is suggestive of a hand flipping someone off. I laughed to myself while watching this, because it's just the kind of thing I would do myself. However, I would advise caution when using this on a heckler. I can see the magician getting punched in the face if done for the wrong person. The last bonus material is on key bending, which I think does add that final touch to anyone's metal bending routine. Morgan does a good job showing you a clean bare hands bend, the only problem I have with it is I don't see it practical. Morgan advocates the use of a borrowed key, a key that you will end up destroying in the process. The issue I have is that no one just walks around with keys they don't want or use on them. I can imagine asking to borrow someones key, bending it, and then they get mad because it's their only house key. In this situation I think it's quite possible that the key isn't the only thing that will get bent out of shape.
Overall I liked the product. Since metal bending really is a physological performance as much as it is a physical one I enjoyed Morgans attention to Audience control and management, which he does discuss in the teaching section of the DVD. Morgan's teaching method is so in-depth that he does over teach the subject so watching the DVD can at times be a bit dry and boring. However the end product is a full three to four minute routine that is powerful, well thought out, if executed correctly, will be a bit of magic that your audience will never forget. Also, Morgan doesn't just teach you how to bend, he also goes over where to buy your forks, and what kind of forks you want to look for. Which is great, since different forks bend differently depending on the manufacturer. I think this product is a very practical one, in that it can be used anywhere. The setup is minimal, and you are left clean at the end. It's well worth the time spent to learn how to do this routine. The only draw back I'd say is that this product focuses only on teaching you fork bending. You won't find any information on spoon bending here.
As some final thoughts, obviously metal bending isn't a new subject. There's a lot of material out there for the serious student of metal bending to consider. If you think that this is something that you want to add to your mentalist act, or maybe have as a standby in case you're out with friends or family at a restaurant then this DVD is a great introduction into the subject. It will certainly teach you everything you need to know about getting a working metal bending routine up and running. I would have no problems recommending this DVD to a friend or new student to the art of metal bending.
When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Sound & Video Quality and Over all Quality.
Product Quality: 8
I think the price of the product is quite fair to the amount of information you receive.
Teaching Quality: 8
Morgan goes overboard on the teaching aspect in this DVD. Between the multiple camera angles, close up shots, and explanations there is no reason why anyone couldn't pick up this DVD and learn how to perform Morgan's Liquid Metal routine.
Video & Sound Quality: 6
The sound and video quality was good. The liquid sloshing sound effect that is heard each time a new phase subtitle appears on the screen during the Explanation portion of the DVD, as well as between menus, got annoying after a while. I found them to be quite distracting.
Over All Quality: 8
I really did enjoy this product, despite what I was originally expecting.