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Defiance II Review

Official Review

February 1st, 2004 11:57am
Reviewed by Brad Henderson
For the record I was the research consultant on Michael Ammar's Complete Cups and Balls. I mention this so you know I have a little background when it comes to the history of this effect.

The one element which I learned held true through all master performances of this classic was a sense of naturalness, not only in the moves, but in the routining.

Having said this. Reed McClintock's Defiance 2 is a seriously flawed cups and balls routine.

Why do I say this? Because Reed has no sense of naturalness when it comes to choreography. While I don't want to expose his sequences there are times when balls and cups are transferred from hand to hand for no apparent reasons, arms must cross to reach for cups when empty hands are right in front of them, and the acquisition and storage of the wand is without any consistency and often leads to further awkwardness of handling.

I will say, however, that his load of two of the three cups is very straight forward and clean and worthy of consideration (though reminds me of one of Tommy Wonder's moves).

One point Reed tries to drive home is that the pockets are never used in the routine, meaning no sequences where the hands are openly placed in the packets. This is simply not true. The penultimate phase has the magician reaching into the pockets for "pixie dust." I'm sorry, that's using the pockets. Also, the hand is supposed to get in and out of the pocket for the third load surreptitiously. While I think there is almost enough cover for the first two loads, there is not for the third.

This is why.

Vernon critiqued Cellini for going to his pockets too many times in the cups and balls. However, research shows that an action must be repeated 7 times before it ceases to be noticed. Cellini conditioned the audience to ignore his hands going to his pockets. Reed only puts his hands in the pockets 3 times. Two for loads, and one for "pixie dust." Seems to me this action would be more obvious because it is so unmotivated and unconditioned. Vernon took the approach of rationalizing his use of the pockets and attacked the problem psychologically. The pockets are given a function that is visible, but are also used for a secret function. I don't feel Reed's answer rises to that level of thinking.

I should also mention Reed's "negative" style of presentation, that of "showing the way a magician would do it" is the philosphy behind Bruce Cervon's work. I spent quite a bit of time with Bruce and he has thought this approach through to the nth degree. It will not play for most people and you should be aware that you run the risk of sounding like a condescending jerk.

Finally, the manuscript itself is flawed. One, it is stapled in such as way that it is impossible to learn from unless you bend the pages dramatically. As a bookman, this is like asking me to torture a helpless woodland creature. Second the layout often has pictures and descriptions on different pages. As the printing is one side only, it makes learning difficult. Third, many moves are mentioned but not taught, be prepared. Fourth, Reed may be left handed. I have often wondered this from his other work. Even if he isn't, he does some moves in his left hand that most performers would do with their right. But changing this may actually improve his lackluster choreography.

(Here are some simple rules: 1) Don't transfer the ball from the right hand to the left, only to "pass" it back to the right again unless you have some motivation. Showing the people on the left is not a motivation. It's a close up trick. They can see it already. 2) Don't use your right hand to pick up the left cup when your left hand is hanging there right beside it already. If you were sitting at a table and someone sitting across from you wanted the salt which was on the left side of the table, you wouldn't reach across your body with the right hand and then set it in front of you or worse put it right back from whence it was lifted. 3) If reaching for the wand using the same hand as the arm it is under makes you look retarded, don't do it.)

I think Reed likes to make things overly difficult. The opening load sequence is more difficult than it needs to be. Plus, I have bigger balls than Reed. By that I mean, with Paul Fox cups and Mike Roger's Baseballs, you can't use his opening sequence. But, there are better ones out there that are just as convincing if not more. (A sequence by Fabian aka Aldo comes to mind.)

So, other than a nice load of two cups, I really don't see what this manuscript has to offer the cup and ball literature. It is a little bit flashy, a little bit challenging (and believe me, I have NO PROBLEM with challenging magic as long as it is indeed the best possible magic I can create for my spectators), but the long and short of it is that there are better routines with greater levels of subtle thinking which produce greater magical impact on the audience.

one and a half star

Available at your favorite Murphy’s Magic dealer

Product info for Defiance II

Author: Reed McClintock
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $30.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

This is the second in a series of classic routines that Reed McClintock uses in the real world. If you are familiar with Mr. McClintock's "The McClintock Twist", the "Knuckle Busters" series on coin magic, or any of his videos or DVDs, you already know his through process regarding magic is truly outside the box.

In "Defiance II", you will once again take a walk into Reed's mind to see how he has broken down the elements of a classic routine, souped it back up, and yet still simplified it so even the earliest beginner can perform it. The seasoned professional will appreciate its impact.

Effect: Three cups are shown, along with a wand. Suddenly, a ball appears at the fingertips. The ball vanishes as quickly as it appeared, only to end up under an untouched cup. The actions are repeated two times, with a ball appearing under each of the three cups. The balls vanish once again, appearing under the cups once more. The performer offers to do it with two balls and one cup, which covers the third ball. The two balls vanish from the hand. The spectator lifts their cup to show three balls. The balls are vanished once again. All three cups are lifted, revealing the final loads.

The knowledge applied in this routine can be used in all aspects of the magic you perform. It is a true reputation maker--but you don’t have to take my word for it.

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