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Review of Mentallica

Official Review

May 24th, 2016 11:03pm
Rating:
Reviewed by Dr. J. M. Ayala de Cedoz
This is one of those products where you will really struggle to see how anyone thought the contents were new or original. Really. Okay, two of the ideas were actually pretty good and I will use one of them because to my knowledge, they are rather original. I will get to that later.

Let me begin by clarifying something about this: All but two of the things in the book require you to purchase a marketed product and none of them are cheap. I will talk a bit about each item in the book and if you already own the required marketed items and wish to try it out, fine and if not, it will be up to you to decide whether or not it would be worth spending the cash to acquire the necessary props. I personally only have one of the marketed items and as such, I cannot comment on the quality of the others but most of them have good reputations. That being said, we will begin with the first thing in the book which is:

Televised Drawing Duplication. This was an attempt to recreate a drawing duplication as performed on television by Uri Geller and he did accomplish that, but there was nothing particularly new or original here. In reading the method given by Harris, it seems almost vindictive in a way toward Geller, like he was trying to debunk him by duplicating, at least in appearance, what Geller did on television. This is one of the items that does not require marketed products and any working or well-read mentalist can duplicate what Geller did on television and with the same open fairness.

The second item is RINGthing, which requires the Shift: Self-Bending Key, which was put out by Ellusionist a while ago. It ran around $100/USD and I do not know if they are still available. The effect is basically using equivoque to force one of two keys on a key ring. Nothing revolutionary here, but it seems to me when I see effects like this (self-bending anything performed, nobody ever does it this way.

Third item: The Eternal Flame. This requires a product by Chris Congreave called The Light, which runs about $80/USD and can be purchased through various dealers including Full 52 which is owned by Dave Forrest. If you are not familiar with the product, it is a card/banknote/billet/etc. to impossible location, and in this case the impossible location is a Zippo lighter. I actually liked this handling because the presentation as outlined can be changed to suit your taste/style but more than that, the use of the lighter is very well motivated.

Fourth item: Shipping Centre Impromptu. This basically an information culling method that is pretty useless the way he details everything in the book. The method by which you gather certain information is nice, but what the heck are you supposed to do with it? That is something he does not tell you in the book. It is a way of using a car park (parking lot) to gather information about the owners of the empty cars. Not a bad idea in and of itself but if you were to actually use that information and reveal it to the right person, you would probably come off as a stalker or something like that.

Fifth item: X-RAY Mother. Now THIS is my idea of a great idea! I really liked this one and this requires you to own the Mother of All Book Tests (MOABT), which runs anywhere from $350/USD to $400/USD. The MOABT is the marketed item that I had previously mentioned that I own, and I can tell you that it is probably the best book test on the market to date, well worth its weight in gold. It is not the only good book test out there, but for what it is, nothing beats it.

That said, I thought it was great thinking on the part of Ben Harris to take this from a mind reading effect and turning it into an X-Ray Vision or Second-Sight type of effect. Most (if not all) book tests are done as mind reading. In this case you have the book covered by two metal sheets (read: "plates") to prevent any chicanery (supposedly) and you have a spectator use a pen to circle a word in the book and close it up. You then proceed to divine the word by using what you claim to be X-Ray vision. This particular book test works with this handling because it allows the audience participant to have a free choice at selecting a word on the page and in fact, any book test that allows a free choice will work with this. On the other hand, book tests that require the participant to look at a particular word on any given page will not work. For years magicians and mentalists have griped about having to carry around a book to do a book test. "Why use a book?" I think Harris did an amicable job in motivating the use of the book itself.

The sixth effect is called 3 Dimensional and requires you to purchase a rather expensive marketed item from Pro Mystic called Multidimensional. On the low end that will cost you around $350/USD and on the high end, $500/USD. The method behind Multidimensional is very clever and purely electronic. It is a cube (rather a set of cubes - one with numbers, another with ESP symbols and another with colored facets) that allows you to detect which facet of a particular cube is facing upward, and you do not even have to be in the room. I do not own Multidimensional because it just does not suit me and as such, I have no idea what basic ideas, methods or routines are taught with them, so I have no idea if the method that Ben Harris gives to use with it is new or original or not. At any rate, the way Harris uses the item is to create a 3D sketch of the cube as viewed from a given perspective underneath the cup or bowl (or whatever object is hiding the cube). To clarify: If you have a cube with a different color on each face and you are looking at it from a particular perspective, you will see three colors. This sounds like a nice twist on the standard effect if indeed it (or something similar) is not already taught in the product instructions.

The final item is called Director's Cut and is, from what I can tell, one phase from an earlier release from Ben Harris called A Thought Well Stolen. This is the second item in the book that does not require you to purchase anything off the market. I have never read A Though Well Stolen so I have no idea what is taught in that book, but in reading the description it is a one-trick booklet with two-phases and is apparently a two-deck Card and a Number (CAAN). The way this particular effect is written up here made absolutely no sense to me - I could not identify what the effect was supposed to be. For further clarification, read the review of A Thought Well Stolen by Jeff Stone and his review of Mentallica for a better description of what this particular effect is supposed to be.

The ad copy for this book, for the most part, is probably 98% untrue. The last 2% where it gives the number of pages, the dimensions and the bit about the photographs in the instructions is in fact accurate. As for the rest of the ad copy being untrue, it makes the claim of the presentations being "new", "fresh" and "original". Nothing about the presentations is "new" so it cannot be either of the other two descriptions either. It claims that the contents are new performance presentations for various props such as nitinol keys, Multi-Dimensional, the Congreave lighter gimmick and various book tests. To be fair, there is only one book test routine given and it uses MOABT, but you could use the other ones listed. As for the drawing duplication, bending a "selected" key, the CAAN plot (or any of its many variations), book tests or even the X-Ray vision plot, what is "new", "fresh" or "original" about any of those? NOTHING! They have all been done before. Even the car park thing may be a new way of getting information but there is nothing new about how you reveal the information - which is something he does not even cover in the description!

The only thing I can really think of that may fit the descriptors at all would be his combination of ideas for the book test handling and possibly his handling/motivation of the lighter for The Light by Chris Congreave. As for the last effect, even though I have never read A Thought Well Stolen I am not sure that re-hashing a previous release, removing one of only two phases and allowing a spectator to keep a deck (which is stated in Mentallica as a "refinement") fits those descriptors either. I would not necessarily say that the words in the ad copy were chosen to be deceptive but they are misguiding and were used under some sort of delusional definition of "new", "fresh" and "original".

As for the instructions themselves, everything is quite clear except for the car park thing. For the other items I would say that you do not need to be familiar with any of them at all to be able to follow the instructions. Harris does tell you what each of the marketed items do but does not give the methods outright

That all being said, if you already own Mother of All Book Tests and/or The Light by Chris Congreave, you might like the ideas given here because they are both a very nice addition/twist to the original effects and presentations. For that matter, you might even like the other items in the book, I have no idea whether you will or not. With the exception of the book test and the lighter idea, nothing is really "new", "fresh" or "original".

I was tempted to give this 1.5 stars but I will give it 2 full stars, one star for X-RAY Mother and one star for The Eternal Flame because I really do like those and think they are both very good ideas.

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