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Profile of ragingcalm
Hello one and all,
After my foul mood caused by the rejection of my first review of scams and fantasies, and the waste of over half an hour, I’ve finally written a second one. Be warned: this is even longer than the first so I suggest you print it off – the green back ground of the café always hurts my eyes! So that you know where abouts I’m coming from in terms of ability or at least my knowledge Smile, below is a list of DVDs and videos that I own, along with ratings of them. I hope that you find this review useful – I’ll probably find that someone’s already posted a greatly superior one in the meantime.

Video/Dvds previously purchased: Lennart Green 1-6 (rating 9.5+), Derren Brown Devil’s PB (9.5), Wilson’s On the Spot (9), Bill Malone 1-4 (9.5+), Banachek PSI 3&4 (8).

General Comments: Great series of dvds and a welcome addition to collection, still waiting for 4th to arrive. Rated (9). I will try an use Derren’s Brown’s Devil’s Picture Book to draw some comparisons. For those of you who don’t own DP, Derren talk about trying to involve the spectators and remarks that effects such as Oil and Water and ACR leave him ‘cold’ in terms of presntation. A point I will later come back to.

In my opinion a given volume of the series does not quite match the devil’s picture book, for reasons I will go into. However, as a consequence of watching this dvd I am strongly considering purchasing other Ortiz publications. I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation and patter for many of his effects, most notably, Appointment in Samara (favourite effect) and Beat the Devil (second favourite effect), both of which reminded me of Carter beats the Devil (recently read and recommend very highly).

Overall skill level: intermediate. Devil’s Picture book is in my opinion more technically advanced. Ortiz Performs several faros, but these need not be perfect. Still haven’t seen explanation for god of gamblers and liar’s poker, which I believe will require perfect faros and excellent false dealing.

Several of the effects are gimmicked (wallets etc…) or require memorized or cyclic stacks (am about to get mnemonica).

I will begin by reviewing vol 1. And try to find time to review the other vols. at some stage.

Vol 1. : Not quite as good as Vol 3. IMO.

The Last Laugh (8.5)- v. clean sandwich effect (funnily enough I chose the exact same card as the spectator- did anyone else find this? I wonder if it had anything to do with his patter?) Red aces turned face up and deck sandwiched between aces. Spectator told to name a card, and immediately the aces are shown to have disappeared from top and bottom of deck and freely thought of card to be sandwiched between aces. Good misdirection, v.clean handling, patter/presentation not that interesting – but a good opener/ reputation/skill establisher.

Fastest Gun Alive (7): one of several spaghetti western-themed effects and IMO the poor man’s Dead or Alive (vol 3.) so perhaps the rating is a little cruel, but the effect is near identical to Dead or Alive but with poorer handling and presentation. Effect: Pocket shown to be empty. spectator freely selects card, Card signed and removed from deck and placed face down on table. Card replaced into deck faced down and deck shuffled by spectator. Deck placed in pocket and on count of three. Selected card is removed from pocket.
The misdirection, handling is worse than that in Dead or Alive because in Dead or Alive the Spectator has no reason to suspect that a sleight involved in both effects is involved in D or A. And in fact the spectator knows that the magician can’t have secreted away his card because he has it in his pocket. It is only once the sleight is completed in D or A that the magician reveals what the trick is going to be. This type of misdirection is remarked upon in card college vol 5. In the endless loop effect by Giobbi, and is excellent. With respect to the Endless Loop (a great effect with sophisticated/intelligent presentation) Giobbi remarks that essentially the spectator doesn’t realise the trick has begun until he/she (pc!) has selected a card. When in fact the trick is virtually completed before the spectator selects a card. I would apply the same category of misdirection to D or A. (PM me questions if all this seems a bit vague). In terms of presentation D or A involves a spectators where as Fastest gun alive is essentially the magician saying, in the words of Lennart Green or there abouts, ‘look at my great skillness!’. It is the sort of effect that would leave Derren Brown Cold. D or A has a showdown between spectator and magician and such Magician vs. Spectator effects always go down well with the audience and are more humourous.

Darwin’s ACR (7 or 9) – standard fare. Very fast tempo, which in my opinion actually detracts slightly from the mystery. Presentation I thought was poor. However, there is a great kicker at the end in which selected card appears from between two jokers. Requires gimmick, but is exceptionally clean. Gimmick also appears to be inspectable (jokers handed out to spectators for inspection). Have some idea how the gimmick works and might see if I can make one myself, but also considering buying it. Gimmick not explained because still on the market. Because of the great kicker I’m giving the effect two ratings.

Appointment in Samara (10): rating given largely for presentation. Effect: spectator selects card. Card placed in envelope, envelope and card sealed and placed in wallet, wallet given to other spectator who signs sealed envelope. 2nd spectator freely chooses 4 random cards. These are turned face down on table and spectator freely selects (no magicians choice) one of the cards, discarding the others. Signed envelope removed from wallet and ripped up to reveal that the ace of spades has vanished completely, spectator turns over chose card to reveal ace of spades.

Great audience reaction. Must buy Wallet!!

Hitchcock Travellers (9+): Four selected cards lost in deck. Four aces placed on table. Tabled cards left untouched whilst aces removed one by one from multiple pockets. Tabled cards turned over to reveal that they are the spectators’ chosen cards. V. good handling. Good presentation.

Ultimate oil and water (7/8): preferred DB’s. IMO Ortiz’s handling was less clean than D.B and presentation was less involving for spectator. Good kicker.

Ultimate Fusion (9+): thoroughly enjoyed. Exceptionally convincing handling, effect in which spectator (and I) were always one step behind magician. Effect: Two spectators ‘freely’ select different cards of different values one after the other. Cards signed. Front and back of cards shown and placed back to back. Cards placed under spectator’s hand. Cards revealed to have fused into a single double faced card.

Concluding Comment

 Good bang for buck
 Disappointed Darwin does not go into his false deals.
 Some excellent effects for all abilities.

 Production values: good. Though could have done with more dvd sections. Darwin covers some important aspects of Misdirection and magic theory, talking about ascanio etc… and remarking how important it is to continously change technique to stay one step ahead of the spectator (I can’t remember which effect this is exemplified in). However, it would be nice if he had gone into a little more depth and I believe that magic dvds should start having separate navigable section in which performers talked about presentation and theory/misdirection. I thought that L&L did a better job with the Malone and Banachek dvds than A1 in terms of production values – Blasphemy I know!

 Darwin as a Performer : Good. Enjoyed his style. Obviously not as comic as Malone or wilson but had some good lines none the less and interacted well with the audience. I think his presentation and persona may be more appealing/ achievable by aspiring magicians. Some of the effects I thought could be better presented. Repeatedly remarked that the effects were achieved by sleight of hand. My belief that this lessens the ‘magic’ and also makes the effects harder to perform since the audience then begins to look for these sleights (though when you’re as good as Ortiz who cares if they’re burning your hands!) Malone’s magic is in part so astonishing because he appears more of a comedian than a magician, as such it is unbelievable that this jester is capable or subterfuge and deception – you don’t suspect him of performing sleights. He makes it seem like anyone could do the effects and that the magic is just happening in his hands.

In conclusion, I cannot recommend this dvd enough. I’m thoroughly looking forward to getting the fourth one, and memorizing the mnemonica stack so I can start performing the effects. Whilst ACR and Oil and Water left me cold in the way that Derren brown cites for giving up card magic, the other effects where great and I hope to introduce Appointment in Samara (though I’ll feel cheap using his presentation it’s just so good and genuinely spooky), The Last Laugh, Hitchcock travelers and Ultimate fusion into my repetoire. I hope get back to writing reviews of the other two when I have some time. Hope this helps. PM me any questions. Sorry for the delay. Digitaltrip you've got competition in the length stakes (no pun intended)!

Paul H
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Inner circle
UK South Coast
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Profile of Paul H
Hi Ragincalm,

Many thanks for a comprehensive review. I think it really helps to be able to compare Darwins style of presentation with others such as Bill Malone. I must say I found him somewhat tense and wooden in the 'At the Card Table' series and it sounds like he is more relaxed on these DVD's. It does not surprise me that he draws attention to the sleights aspect of the mysteries. He is a magician driven by excellence in sleight of hand and I guess he feels justified and confident enough to draw this kind of attention. I'm glad to hear he has done justice to the quality and creativity of his work and I look forward to your views on Vol 2,3 and 4. Thanks again.


Paul H
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Veteran user
365 Posts

Profile of asper
THanks for the review. I love the Color of Money which you didn't mention. It's the best solution (with respect to the trick construction) to the follow the leader plot. His presentational idea of using of the chips is a very good idea too.
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Profile of green
Darwin is great, but the production quality is not that good. In the preformance sections, the voice ,sometimes, suddently change to very quite.
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Profile of Kjellstrom
Check this message out from Mr Darwin Ortiz:
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