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Menu of Miracles Vol. 1 by James Prince & RSVP - DVD
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Destined to do for the restaurant magician, what corporate close-up did for the corporate worker. For the first time, James spills the beans and release some of his favorite routines and gives valuable hints and tips that will make you a high earner in this lucrative field.
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Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on April 2nd, 2010
Let's start with a brief review of the overall DVD, then a specific review of each effect. First, the DVD is only 70 minutes. That includes a 4 minute "trailer" and there are only 6 effects on the DVD. For a price of $34.99, it'd be nice to get more than 6 effects. Both volume I and volume II were done together, and the trailer for the DVDs pitches them together stating that there are 10 routines. Seriously . . . 10 routines . . . two DVDs? This could easily have been one DVD.
As for the production quality, no real problems here. It was filmed live in a real restaurant with real audience members at a restaurant that Mr. Prince actually works at every week. I really like this aspect of the DVD. It was a little noisy at times, but nothing too bad. The explanations were shot in a back room at the restaurant after closing time. There were a few lighting issues, but nothing serious. The navigation and menu, etc. was all just fine. All in all, the production quality was an 8 on a scale from 1 to 10. One other thing that was a nice touch was during the explanations they would show flash backs to the performance segments. I think that aided greatly in the learning of the effects.
Speaking of effects . . .
Mirrors (4/5) - He fooled me with the deck switch on this one. Basically this is a nice way to end a card effect. It sort of has the Paul Harris Solid Deception feel to it. The one thing I didn't like about his performance of this effect was that it just felt like the whole time he just trying to get to the kicker ending and that the other stuff on the way there was incidental thus making a bit of a weak performance, but the effect is excellent for sure.
Repeat Travelers (3/5) - This is a very clean cards-to-pocket. He shows a 3 card version and a 4 card version. I think the 3 card version is much better. A couple of down sides: 1) You have modify your clothing. 2) You have to be able to do a really tough (in my opinion) move from Erdnase.
Cards to Pocket (2.5/5) - This is just another version of Repeat Travelers, however in this version you use multiple selections (6 I believe). You end with some in pockets and some inside of impossible objects inside of your pockets (matchbox and wallet). Keep in mind that in both this and Repeat Travelers the cards are signed, and the cards appear to be placed in the deck and are immediately found in 3 (or 4 or 6) different pockets on your person.
Card In/Under Matchbox (5/5) - This is, by far, my favorite effect on this DVD. It's an excellent lesson in misdirection. In this effect, you get to see two performances. Also, you've got to master that Erdnase move again. However, this is a brilliant routine. The rhythm, timing, etc. was beautiful. The handling is very well thought out and considers angles and performance conditions, etc. The only downside is that you do need some table space and a table cloth so that you can spread the cards out, so this won't work at every table.
Choosing Your Venue (2/5) - This is not an effect, but rather was some advice on picking your venue. The ad copy said that this segment alone was worth the cost of the DVD. I have to completely disagree with that. There were some thoughts about which days to perform and proximity to your home, but that's about it. Also, there are some mentions that are extremely general terms that made no sense. Maybe it's just different in America, but Mr. Prince say that you should not work on Thursday nights at a restaurant because ALL corporate dinners are held on Thursday. That was just a strange thing to say.
Borrowed Ring In Pepper Pot (4/5) - This is an excellent effect, and one I could see myself doing. The effect is that a borrowed ring vanishes and reappears on the shaft inside of a glass pepper grinder. There were a few problems, however, in the explanation. The construction of the gimmick was very quickly gone over. There were a few points where I really felt it would have helped to watch him build, assemble, or disassemble. However, he glossed right over them. Another problem that should have been discussed is what to do at the end of the effect. Do you put the pepper grinder in your pocket? Do you leave it on the table and come back for it later (which could be a problem since the gimmick renders it useless for its intended purpose - grinding peppercorns)? I have no doubt that this is a reputation-maker for him and that he's been doing it as long as he claims. That being so, I would have liked to have learned a bit more from his wisdom and experience on the subject. There is a second variation taught . . . I use the word "taught" loosely here. He briefly went over a variation. He didn't really give any feedback as to which one was better, preferred, etc.
Impromptu Anniversary Waltz (2/5) - In my opinion, Mr. Prince broke what was, once, a great effect. He added some convoluted procedures to it, and there is a HUGE discrepancy in the routine that isn't going to fool anyone. Each spectator names a card freely. One is signed on the back and one on the front. Imagine that the freely named card of the guy who signs the back is the 10 of Hearts. However, during the performance a moment later, you show him a king of spades and claim that it's the card with his signature on the back . . . yep . . . that's exactly what Mr. Prince does. It was clear in the performance section that the spectator was not fooled and was thinking "That's not the card I signed." Now in fairness, during the explanation, Prince makes a statement that would sort of help through this situation that he claims will fly right by the audience. My opinion is that it won't, and secondly he didn't do it that way in the performance. There are plenty of ways to get the ultimate effect he's going for (two cards fusing as one) with a much cleaner method than he used.
One final thought: something that bothered me on many of the performances, particularly the cards to pocket routines was the non-engaging style of Mr. Prince. For example, in the cards to pocket/impossible locations, it basically felt like "Hey look. This afternoon, I figured out a clever way to get your cards into these six impossible locations. There really was just no presentation. It was just this: Put the card back in the deck. Reach into my pocket and pull it out. I really would like to have seen more personality in the performance. If you average my ratings for each effect, you get a 3.2. However, I'm going to dock that a little bit for having a very short DVD that should have been combined with Volume II. However, the tricks, in general, were very good and with the right practice and personality can be good additions to any pro's repertoire. With that said, my final rating is a 3 out of 5. Thus . . . gem.
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Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on April 5th, 2010
James is great! In my opinion James has done very well with this series of dvd's his teaching could be more detailed with some things but overall the video quality is some of the best I have seen for a magic dvd that has live performances on. James has selected great effects for a restaurant situation. He has some effects that are just variations and different methods of the same effect which is good in ways because you can select which you like but I would have preferred complete different effects rather then the same but there is still a good amount of material on the dvd.
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