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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Criss Angel: Mindfreak - Best of Seasons 1 and 2
Criss Angel: Mindfreak - Best of Seasons 1 and 2
A&E Video // Unrated // June 24, 2008
List Price: $12.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted August 30, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

What's a Criss Angel? No seriously, I want to know. Or I guess the better question I should be asking is that how did a magician become so popular? Whether you like him or not, Angel is apparently the biggest thing to hit the world of illusions since Gob Bluth made a whole boat disappear at Spring Break a few years back.

To be fair, and in all sincerity, the illusions that Angel does are pretty extraordinary. Walking down the side of a 50-story hotel is one of the more impressive ones, and others, like being suspended with fishhooks that are connected to a helicopter, earn points for stamina. Angel consciously steps out of the lineage of televised magic acts like David Copperfield, David Blaine or others and has created a unique persona. It's unique not only for the demographic is reaches (Angel just turned 40 last year, but looks and plays younger, which is a change of pace from the aforementioned), but he also avoids some of the grandiose stunts of those peers as well. His show on A&E, titled Criss Angel: Mindfreak focuses on smaller "man on the street" stunts like some other illusionists do, but his larger-scale tricks seem to be a little understated. Perhaps that's because he's got to find new content every week, though I don't know for sure.

Yet his persona is probably the thing that held me back from connecting with his tricks. In every trick, he feels almost compelled to mug for the camera. Which is to say that every completed trick has him stare or walk into the camera to deliver some sort of strange mystique, but it backfires. Remember when Billy Crystal impersonated Prince on Saturday Night Live way back in the '80s? It's kind of like that. Criss my boy, every trick doesn't have to end with that flourish. You're good with illusions, we get it, stop hamming it up. A couple of smaller complaints include a minor one (the Long Island inflection) and a slightly larger one (his "man on the street" stuff has passersby who react to his stunts with a little too much passion and emotion, as if they were coached or something). Ultimately it's disappointing, because in its intent, Angel's illusions are pretty good without the additional selling.

All of this might sound like I dislike Criss Angel, but I don't. As I mentioned before, some of the stuff is watchable and pretty cool; the levitation episode was a personal favorite. And I think for a lot of people, Criss Angel: Mindfreak just isn't palatable and is dismissed because "it's just magic." It's an unfair statement to make; I think that if you take the leap, you'd be amazed at what he can do, but I'd also temper those beliefs with the fact that Criss really seems to love himself a bit too much in front of the camera.

The Disc:
Video:

Looks like full-frame viewing on all of these episodes, which is no real surprise. The production values are reflected in the disc, and it looks pretty much like it does on TV, so no real complaints here.

Audio:

Another straightforward television presentation with two-channel Dolby Stereo. Honestly, you really shouldn't expect a lot of work out of your surround speakers on this anyway, but the dialogue and music is all in the front speakers and sounds OK.

Extras:

Some people would count a text biography as an extra. I'm not one of those people.

Final Thoughts:

Well, since the complete first and second seasons of Criss Angel: Mindfreak are out on DVD now, and those at least have some extras on them, let's take this compilation disc for what it is; an attempt to get you to buy more Criss Angel product. If you like the shows and have them on DVD, there's no reason to pick this up, and if you're a newbie, this might be a good entry point to buying the seasons on disc, but wouldn't the television show repeats handle that function?

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