Criss Angel Mindfreak 6:
From "Herrmann the Great" on up through David Blaine, (and let's not forget Ching Ling Foo) magicians have had the ability to fascinate, enrapture, and stone cold dupe us big time. And we love it. Obviously, a huge degree of physical skill and body mastery is required, but ultimately there's no such thing as magic, a fact that Criss Angel and his minions gleefully mention frequently in this Season 6 collection. Will that 'revelation' in any way diminish your enjoyment of these tricks? Sure won't, since all the way back to the 'disappearing moth woman' and other illusions, the question has always been, "how they do that?"
For this season, Angel has opted to perform one grand illusion per 42-minute episode - 6 of which appear on this two-disc collection. Additionally, Angel knocks out a few little bits of street level magic to complete strangers in between all of the preparation-padding used to lead up to Angel's giant-scale illusions. As a bonus, Angel will reveal the secrets behind some of his tricks, no, not the big ones, but some nifty secrets nonetheless. So we must decide, are we here for the few bits of prestidigitation revealed, or the outrageous mega stunts requiring tons of money, time, and what sometimes looks like a degree of deception that might be a bit beyond the pale? Probably both, so here's what Angel does:
The Grand Canyon Death Jump, in which our hero hops into a souped-up three-wheeled motorcycle, in order to race up a ramp rigged with explosives and not jump over the canyon, but make the motorcycle disappear while Angel himself reappears in a metal cage suspended from a waiting helicopter. As Angel notes, he doesn't do this with magic; he also claims the stunt is filmed in one continuous shot. Since the laws of physics dictate that Angel's stunt is impossible, and since those carefully rigged explosions somehow envelop the camera's eye in a burst of flame at a crucial moment, I'm calling BS on this stunt. It's still fun to wonder how he did it, but I'm guessing a little stop-time and two shots spliced together might have something to do with it.
Angel also does the Luxor Walk, strolling up the outside of the slick, skyscraping Las Vegas hotel/pyramid. As we're frequently reminded, the Luxor is too slick to walk up at all, and the black glass is too hot in the daytime as well, so Angel performs his demonstration at night with bright lights and helicopters about. We wonder how he does it, but somehow, this trick seems to lack some of the danger and grandiosity that marks the best of Angel's stuff.
Cement Shoes is an underwater escape demonstration, with a bit of Mob lore thrown in to spice up the mix. As Angel is dumped into the murky waters of Lake Havasu, partially encased in cement, one hopes he's had plenty of vaccinations beforehand. You never know what germs are lurking in that well-partied-on body of water.
100 Gone doesn't reflect what happens to your wallet the second you enter Las Vegas, rather it is Angel's demonstration involving making 100 shackled Vegas denizens disappear en masse.
Smash represents a return to the Grand Canyon to check out the amazing, vertiginous Sky Walk. Oh yeah, Angel also demonstrates his ability to escape from a locked crate suspended 4200 feet above the canyon floor. Angel's openness about his methods is on display, but he's still handicapped himself severely with a short window of opportunity for his escape. As those on the Web say, "did he die?"
Lastly, Angel gives you two standard illusions for the price of one with his demonstration Levitation Vanish. It's easy to guess what he's going to demonstrate, as he scurries off to the Mojave Desert in order to rise 100 feet in the air and then vanish, just to sneak a little free time for himself, apparently.
As mentioned, each episode comes with plenty of padding; interview clips with his friends, family, and team, including his manager, who is quick to point out that Angel doesn't actually perform real magic, just carefully executed demonstrations. Still, everyone seems amazed and concerned that the rock-star-sleazy magician doesn't kill himself, while Angel is frank and self-deprecating enough to be a pretty entertaining TV star. During the lead-up to the main demonstration, Angel throws out fun bits of street side and tabletop magic, which are by far the most entertaining bits of the show. Like David Blaine, Angel's narcotic manner must somehow lull both viewers and participants into missing the trick, but there's no way you'll convince me that when he pulls a live emperor scorpion out of a girl's mouth that she isn't in on it, no matter how amazing and befuddling it is. Oh yes, Angel's new multi-million-dollar estate - Serenity - is also on full display this season. Oh, to be a famous magician!
These 6 episodes spread across two discs look as good as when they were broadcast, appearing in fullframe, 1.33:1 ratio, with good detail levels, fairly rich color, deep black levels and not much more than occasional aliasing appearing to let you know you're watching a digital mastering job.
Mindfreak lays on some heavy musical mayhem to accompany Angel's demonstrations. It's a good way to test your system's bass and treble response. The Dolby Digital Stereo mix is full and throaty, though you can always hear people talking loud and clear.
Aspiring magicians will like this 48-minute extra, as Angel demonstrates seven of The Secrets Behind Criss Angel's Tricks. He shows you how to toss a ring off of the back of your hand and catch it on your fingertip. You can take a straw out of its wrapper, and magically restore it. Four great card tricks are demonstrated, and lastly you can learn how to move a straw without touching it.
Criss Angel Mindfreak 6 brings plenty of mysterious fun for fans of magic. Angel draws out six major stunts over the course of each 42-minute episode, with the requisite interview padding, and a few bits of up close magic performed to the amazement of Vegas tourists. It's nice how up front Angel is about the fact that his demonstrations are very much based in reality, though I question one of his claims of using a continuous shot while performing a stunt. Call me a non-believer, but I do believe Angel is quite personable, incredibly talented, and worth a look for magic fans. Unless you're a super-devoted fan, the least you can do is Rent It and have a good time.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com