Magic can do just about anything a person can think of; mess with time, change colors, injure and incapacitate people in various ways. It can also be jazzed up in a great variety of ways; a stunning spell could get red sparks, sound effects, and maybe a halo around the wand firing the spell to complement the otherwise mundane visual of someone slumping over. If a character comments on it, all the better.
This does not include effects that have a solid grounding in what the spell actually does- a freezing spell can reasonably look like a rush of snowy air, but if it starts sparking and glowing it's going for style points.
Related to Power Glows
, Instant Runes
, and Everything's Better with Sparkles
. Subtrope of Unrelated Effects
and Rule of Cool
- Harry Potter tends to avert this, especially in the movies (despite being the visual version) and especially as the series progresses, being used only with specific causes. Sparks usually only happen when something is wrong, as with Ron's broken wand in the second book.
Live Action Film
- The Sorcerer's Apprentice makes prodigious use of flashy magic, most especially the scene in Chinatown.
- In The Slayers, casting spells is usually accompanied by glowy effects, auras and unnecessary levitation.
- Generally averted by the Harry Potter films, the greatest addition to most spells is a flash or glow of light. The only time extra sparks and effects are seen is when a wand is damaged. There are magical fireworks that launch flame dragons and other such spectacle, but since that's their intent they don't fit.
- Disney's Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty (in fact, most Disney films with magic) had colored sparkles as standard good fairy magical effects and colored smoke as byproducts of evil magic.
- Disney's trademark pixie Tinkerbell throws around her own body weight in pixie dust every fifteen minutes.
- The cauldron used by Ursula the sea witch upon The Little Mermaid got mighty kinetic with the metaphysics during the transformation sequence.