Thursday, July 21, 2005

Mindfreak Official Reviews

The first official reviews are starting to leak from last evening's episodes of Criss Angel's Mindfreak. About Magic has a pretty extensive review, thanks to Wayne N. Kawamoto:

Mindfreak (Mind “freak”)
n 1:Modern day mystifier who utilizes skills beyond the category of magic. 2:the result of something incomprehensible. 3:supernatural. 4:Criss Angel.

Along with a barrage of surreal video, so began Criss Angel Mindfreak, the long-awaited magic special starring Criss Angel. If David Copperfield is often compared to a rock star, Criss Angel would be Copperfield’s dark, heavy metal equivalent. Angel is an excellent and mesmerizing performer, and his show provided a good magic event.

Throughout, the show emphasized an on-the-street style that was popularized by David Blaine. As in the Blaine magic specials, the use of spectators on a street creates realistic, spontaneous-looking situations. Angel began the show by crouching beneath an inverted trash can that was held down by volunteers, and mysteriously reappearing in another location.

For the Human Candle segment, Angel flies his mother from New York to Las Vegas to celebrate her birthday. And he lights himself on fire to commemorate the event. What initially appears to be a physical challenge that any Hollywood stuntman could perform results in a spectacular payoff. With his mother watching and reacting, Angel builds the impact.

In the streets, Angel performs an intriguing voodoo effect where he burns a part of a doll and causes volunteers to feel heat in their corresponding limb. And for more fun, Angel lets volunteers punch a doll with a pin to “punish” him. Other effects include a borrowed ring revelation and a thought-of card that is identified in a spectacular manner that is suitable for a magic special.

For his finale, Angel follows Blaine’s flighty footsteps and performs levitations in front of stunned spectators in impromptu locations. While television audiences may initially be jaded by levitations, they've seen David Blaine do this before, Angel’s risings, where he appears to ascend some three to four feet, are far more impressive than Blaine’s.

Most intriguing, and the show’s closer, is an amazing suspension of Angel himself and a volunteer in a park and in the middle of Fremont Street in Las Vegas. The cameras quickly pan around to show no noticeable supports-an impressive-looking effect. This suspension will probably be the topic of discussion around water coolers everywhere.

Interview segments allow Angel to talk about the impact of his magic and how it lets him connect with spectators. I haven’t seen Angel’s first television special in a long time, but it seems to me that he is wearing less theatrical make-up these days, and, in interviews, is trying to portray himself as more of an average, affable guy that people can relate to. I think he is intentionally toning the down the extreme elements.

Despite some great effects and Angel’s brooding charisma, the show lacks the uplifting feel and impact of Copperfield's best television specials. Perhaps it’s difficult for a show to sustain its serious, dramatic tone for an entire hour without any light moments to counteract it.

Even David Blaine featured lots of light segments in his shows to balance his straight-forward approach. And, of course, Copperfield has long been known for his comedy, and dramatic presentations based on love, childhood innocence and expectations, music and other themes. As we all know, Copperfield's approach is a winner that has entertained millions and inspired countless new magicians.

Overall, Criss Angel Mindfreak was baffling, mystifying and mostly entertaining, which made it good for magic. Is this the beginning of a series ala David Copperfield, Lance Burton and David Blaine? It’s certainly a decent start. And I’m hoping that it is.

Criss Angel Mindfreak aired on Wednesday, July 20, 2005 on A&E.




Blogger Danny said...

Just to let you know, we gave you a shout out (well, sort of)today.
You'll understand.

Sarc. Mag.

9:24 PM  

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