Magic is one of those things that is all in the eye of the beholder, so it truly depends on if you are willing to let your mind believe or continue to doubt the “impossible.” Whether it is something like pinpointing a person’s card in a deck of fifty-two or making the Statue of Liberty disappear, magic is all slight of hand and feats of prestidigitation. The appeal of magic is if you are willing and able to watch something and not just totally crap on it, but wonder how it was done without ever really knowing. This is what makes us break free from reality and let’s us imagine for just a little bit that something that could never possibly happen…did. It could be the feats of Penn & Teller, David Copperfield, Siegfried & Roy, or Harry Anderson; regardless, magic is beautiful and entertaining no matter how it is presented as long as you can believe.
Alright so I’ll admit that I can’t always figure out how Criss Angel does the things that he does. I’ve been watching magic for a good twenty years or more and a lot of the tricks I’ve seen done are either easy to figure out or can be after a little deduction. Hell, I saw David Copperfield get sawed in half by a good six-foot blade when I was younger and at the time my mind wasn’t able to grasp what was being performed before my very eyes. Over time, and with a decent amount of research, I do believe the trick has been figured out and it’s a hell of an illusion. Angel on the other hand has both my eyes and my mind freaking out on just about every trick he does.
Magic isn’t for everyone, but it certainly seems like everyone thinks they can do it. Copperfield knew what it took to make it popular in the late eighties and early nineties. Penn & Teller knew how to tell extremely graphic jokes while performing some of the greatest feats of prestidigitation ever seen by the human eye. The Amazing Jonathan came along and focused on doing a lot more comedy then magic, but the tricks he did were still cool. Then along came Criss Angel that took magic to new heights. He showed up looking like a depressed emo kid and took his act to the streets in Mindfreak.
Angel has taken his act off of the stage and brought it to the streets, to the docks, and sometimes even on top of hotels. He performs great feats that can amaze you in seconds like little card tricks or making things disappear. Those are fantastic to shock the pants off of any Joe Schmo simply walking by. But it is the grander scale on which he pulls off awesome stuns like escaping from a van full of explosives aimed at the edge of a cliff. Or perhaps it is his levitating atop the Luxor Hotel that is sure to make anyone tighten up on their couch. Angel knows what will blow your mind, but he also knows what will amaze and that is another place he differs from your common everyday magician.
The Collector’s Edition of Mindfreak takes fans of Criss Angel through the first four seasons of his television series while also giving us a few of the specials he’s done in the middle. Watching the series in its entirety is a fun way of witnessing the growth of Angel from a sidewalk magician into a fortified superstar of television. Season one portrays a bit of hesitancy as well as inexperience that shows due to it all being so new to him. The second season is better in quality, as we see Angel develop as a magician. Season three takes a drastic turn and focuses much more on Angel’s life then what his lifelong ambition is. It made Mindfreak into more of a reality series then a show that was created to get more fans into the mindset that magic can be a lot of fun and miraculous. Luckily the creators of the series realized that this was a problem as season four cut back a bit on the tortured soul and let the show once again be all about the magic. Well, at least ninety or so percent about it.
The added specials such as The 5 Lives Of Criss Angel and Halloween, along with six never-before-seen episodes, adds a good bit of extra here that makes it more worth purchasing then simply getting all the seasons again. The Halloween special actually has one of the greatest illusions I’ve ever seen him perform as Angel gets put into a wooden coffin and fed quickly into a wood chipper. Everything you see is done very quickly and in one fluid motion so it is really difficult to grasp your mind around how it is accomplished. 5 Lives shows us some really cool tricks from Angel that always have his life at risk and he must succeed in order to survive. In some respect, these could be seen as even more special features which makes this collection even more enticing.
Disc One: Season 1
Disc Two: Season 1 continued
Disc Three: Season 2
Disc Four: Season 2 continued
Disc Five: Season 2 continued
Disc Six: Season 3
Disc Seven: Season 3 continued
Disc Eight: Season 3 continued
Disc Nine: Season 4
Disc Ten: Season 4 continued
Disc Eleven: Season 4 continued
Disc Twelve: The 5 Lives Of Criss Angel
Disc Thirteen: The 5 Lives Of Criss Angel continued
Disc Fourteen: Halloween
Disc Fifteen Never-Released Episodes
The episodes are shown in 1.33:1 Full Screen format and look as good as they did when originally airing on television and possibly even better. All colors are bright and crisp with no noticeable transfer problems.
The episodes are heard in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Sound and while it could be argued that the stereo sound is all that is needed for this series; I am rather disappointed. Mindfreak has some fantastic music throughout each episode and it would have done it good to have it fill the room instead of just coming through one speaker.
Audio Commentaries – A handful of episodes throughout the collection have commentary tracks from Angel that are quite good without ever being too informative obviously.
Interactive Illusions Through Your Television Screen – An interesting concept as Angel works his magic through your TV screen with three illusions you can do at home with him. Two out of the three worked for me the first time, but something weird occurred to me. After doing the trick once, you are able to change your mind which means that if you ever wanted to do them again…they wouldn’t work.
“Inside The Mind Of Criss Angel” Interview – Snippets from different interviews are strewn together here but it offers a lot of good information. Angel talks about how long he’d like to do magic, the inspiration for his tricks, and the mentors he has watched his whole life to try and mimic such as Houdini.
Criss Angel’s Step-By-Step Guide To Creating Your Own Illusions
Teach A Trick – A collection of tricks shown throughout season two.
Interviews – Criss Angel has a good interview with fellow magicians Penn & Teller as well as a couple others stopping in. This was quite good and I really would have liked to have seen more of this. Always nice seeing multiple masters discuss their craft.
Practical Jokes – Not much to be seen here as the cast and crew joke around together.
Criss Angel Special Gifts – Seriously? This is a featurette showing Angel being given two very special gifts. Honestly, that’s it. Thank God it’s short.
Criss Uncensored – Another handful of behind the scenes footage.
Behind The Scenes Of Season Three – Angel and some members of the crew sit down to discuss how it was on the set during season three. They talk about some of the tricks and situations they wanted to include and how they hoped everything went down. This twelve and a half minute feature also features a good bit of backstage looks that give an idea of just how hectic and fast-paced some of the things were done.
Criss Celebrity Guests – This feature lasts just under seven minutes and focuses on Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top and the Amazing Jonathan who both guest starred on episodes this season.
Two “Best Of” Episodes: ‘Uncut’ and ‘Up Close’
Mindfreak is an excellent series when Angel and the creators focus on the magic while keeping the star’s personal life to a bare minimum. Season three is not the most entertaining but still does a decent enough job while the other three seasons included here deliver the goods. All of the special features aren’t the most prolific or exciting, but if you really just stop and think about it for a second, there’s a lot more bonus then it seems. The specials along with the seasons are nice added touches that keep the magic going without ever growing stale. If you have any of the season sets or even the specials already, then you may want to think twice about picking up this set. Everything has been available for purchase separately before so if you’ve never gotten any of them and want to start getting caught up then use this Collector’s Edition to get your (Mind) freak on.
A&E Home Entertainment presents Criss Angel: Mindfreak Collector’s Edition. Created by: Criss Angel. Starring: Criss Angel, Banachek, and more. Running time: 2201 minutes on 15 discs. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: December 15, 2009. Available at Crissangel.com