Draven Reviews: Total Recall by Manuel Llaser

not approvedTitle: Total Recal
Artist: Manuel Llaser
Producers: Vernet
Retail Price: $30.00 USD
Learning Difficulty: Hard
Length of DVD: 80 minutes
Notes: Spanish with English dubbing.

Features:

  • Languages
    • Spanish
    • English
  • Performance
  • Explanations
  • Interview

With Total Recall you are able to learn a system that allows you to memorize and recall any card at any number, the position in the deck of any card named, and the position of any four of a kind given by the spectator without the use of Mnemonics, and using any deck shuffled by any spectator.  Sounds almost too good to be true doesn’t it?  This is Total Recall.

As brilliant of an effect as this could be Total Recall suffers from the same affliction other Vernet products have before in the past and that’s with the post production.  Specifically I’m talking about problems with the voice over.

Total Recall could very well be a gem of a find if you know how to understand Spanish.  But for us non Spanish speaking magicians we have to rely on either subtitles, or dub over to help us understand what is being taught.  Unfortunately Subtitles aren’t an option with this product, and they would be preferable over the dub for sure.

Vernet relies on a single voice over actor who dubs their DVD’s with this wonderful smooth masculine sounding voice.  The voice is pleasant to hear, but the actor speaks with a mono toned delivery with no inflections in voice pitch, or augmentations to natural conversation that we would otherwise use to keep people interested in what we are saying.  I’m referring to the natural dips and rises within our voice tone as we talk or the natural pauses between sentences or the emphasizing of key words, etc.   Instead the voice actor plows through dialog like a runaway freight train with reckless abandonment to the interest of keeping the home viewer remotely attached to the program.  The worst problem the videos Vernet produces suffers from is that the one voice actor speaks for all the people on screen making it very hard to follow dialog during the interview portions. The DVD becomes stale to watch within minutes, and the material, because of the format it is presented in, becomes worthless because the learning process is so greatly handicapped.  It could be the greatest trick in the world, but unless you can learn it it’s useless to you.

Vernet would do well to either hire a production manager who has experience and understands how to produce quality foreign dubs or just switch to subtitles and be done with the actor they currently use.
The quality of the magic on this DVD has been entirely too hard to determine because watching it was so frustrating for me.  Unfortunately just muting the DVD and trying to follow along with what’s going on didn’t work.  It brought back memories of trying to watch the Doors DVD and mucking my way through the Trick that Can’t Be Explained.

There can be an argument made for the quality of the magic being “protected” by crappy production choices and thus only falling into the hands of the select few “worthy” of sitting through it long enough to learn the material, but I challenge that point of view.  The entire point of producing magic is to sell it right?  The entire point to buying magic is to learn it right?  So it would be in the best interest of the producers to make the consumption of the material by the consumer as easy as possible.

Total Recall promises some pretty amazing things.  For example one of the claims it makes is that you could give the deck to a spectator, have them call you at any time, and you’d be able to recite the entire order of the deck!  This is a fantastic claim, and certainly would be something fun to do to impress that special client you like to take care of.  I just wish it was easier to learn from.

The magic in this DVD remains locked away from me.  I did not have the patience or the will power to sit through this horrible dub and learn this routine.  There’s a lot of magic out there to learn, and I felt that my time was better spent on other projects.  Juan Tamariz speaks highly of this product though… so that means it can’t be all that bad.  Maybe someday I’ll come back to this.  But for now this is a complete failure and waste of time and money.

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 Overall Quality.

Product Quality:  2
The quality of the magic was hard to determine because the dub made it impossible to watch.

Teaching Quality: 2
Horrible teaching quality.  The dub ruined this DVD.

Video & Sound Quality: 2
Good sound and video, lousy dub over.

Overall Quality:  2
Fix the dub issue, re-release the product with a better dub or subtitles option over spoken Spanish and then we’ll talk.  Otherwise Fail.

Have a product you want reviewed?  Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval?  Contact me directly at draven@williamdraven.com to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews!  Don’t forget to like my blog where all my reviews are posted at www.williamdraven.wordpress.com.

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About William Draven

William Draven is a professional magician and sideshow performer living in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter at WilliamDraven or on facebook at www.facebook.com/thewilliamdraven
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