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A&E Home Video presents
Criss Angel Mindfreak: The Complete Season One (2005)

"Some people say I'm f***ing crazy. I agree with them."
- Criss Angel

Review By: Nate Meyers  
Published: January 30, 2006

Stars: Criss Angel
Other Stars: Dimitra Sarantakos, J.D. Sarantakos, Richard Kaufman, Richard Cohn, Lance Burton, Luke Jermay, Banachek, Tod Robbins, Johnny Thompson, Dexter, Dave Baram, JoAnn Angel, Allen Falkner, Rob Zombie, Evelyn Ng, Milt Larsen, Mandy Moore, David Lavaggi, Lloyd Auerbach, Michael Blum, Scott Interrente, Penn Jillette, Teller, Michael Gingras, Dale Hindman, Bill Kurtis, The Amazing Jonathan, Mark Chadwick, John Farrell, Warren Hohmann
Director: Criss Angel

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some intense/dangerous images, censored language)
Run Time: 05h:21m:46s
Release Date: December 27, 2005
UPC: 733961741216
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BBB- C+

DVD Review

"No f***ing way!" - Niki, a random pedestrian saying what we're all thinking after watching Criss Angel's brand of magic

A&E's programming is a rather eclectic assortment of movies, TV shows, and documentaries. I first caught a glimpse of Criss Angel: Mindfreak after a night's work. While eating a makeshift dinner, I turned on the TV to discover a grown man, in the middle of a public park, begin to levitate in front of a growing audience. Until that moment, found in the episode entitled Levitation, I thought of magic as nothing more than an out-of-work actor entertaining school assemblies with a rabbit in his hat. But, in this gravity-defying act, Criss Angel brings back all the wonder and delight of Harry Houdini.

The show centers each episode around a "mindfreak." These tricks, or stunts, are created and designed by Criss Angel himself and words cannot describe them. The first episode, Burned Alive, features Angel lighting himself on fire with minimal protection for nearly a minute. He's fearless and enigmatic, creating an intense bond between himself and the audience—both those gathered on the street and those watching at home. It's not just that Angel pushes the boundary on how long he allows himself to be consumed by flames, he even adds some twists and surprises no one sees coming.

Mindfreak is a documentary that mixes classic showmanship with candid interviews. Each episode contains additional bits of magic highlighting Angel's talents with the crowd. Walking the streets of Las Vegas in Tesla Strike, Angel actually "reads" a girl's mind and uncovers a childhood crush. In Buried Alive, he knocks down a chair by only hitting its shadow. There seems to be no limit to where this show can go, because each episode breaks down all perceptions of reality. Take, for instance, Criss Angel walking through a glass window in Building Walk. The feat is performed in one continuous shot, with a dozen people standing around him as he does it! Thank God it's not longer 1790, because the man would be burned at the stake for stuff like this.

Taking us through his various stunt, Angel gives limited access to his preparation work. It would be nice to see more, though I suppose we may as well ask him to reveal all his techniques. Interviews with his family help to flesh out the genuine danger of Criss' performances. Wine Barrel Escape features him trying to escape from a full barrel suspended 80 feet in the air before it crashes onto the street below. The fear in his brother D.J.'s face is real, carrying over into the viewer's own sense of looming doom as the clock begins to run out. A more amusing bit of danger occurs when Mandy Moore lets Criss driver her car to an unknown destination in Blind. The expletives fly off her tongue like it's a Tarantino movie as Criss blindly navigates L.A.'s downtown roads. Even Rob Zombie is unable to remain calm when Angel is trapped six feet under for over an hour in Buried Alive.

One of the most impressive things about Criss Angel: Mindfreak is how there's a tremendous amount of suspense, even though there's no doubt that Angel will emerge safe and sound (after all, A&E isn't about to broadcast a man's death). For a man who weighs only 164 pounds, it's truly amazing that Angel's able to walk away from any of the stuff he does here. Whether it's lifting a taxi in Super Human or hanging from fishhooks under a helicopter in Body Suspension, he pushes himself past the point of imagination.

Accompanying Angel's own reflections on his magic, his team of coordinators and some other magicians also offer an intellectual look into the general ideas behind the medium. His mindfreaks raise numerous metaphysical questions, and even some ethical concerns regarding the self-destructive nature of a few stunts. While these issues aren't delved into deeply, the interviews do introduce them and provide some food for thought after the show ends. However, while watching these 15 episodes, all I can say is that Criss Angel freaks my mind.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Each episode is shown in its 1.33:1 original broadcast ratio. Filmed on video, the picture is somewhat dull as a result, but the transfer does justice to the source material.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Stereo 2.0 is crisp and clean, but pretty tame. When played back in Pro Logic, the rear-channels spotlight the show's score nicely. However, I didn't notice any sound separation or directionality.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 45 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
3 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Criss Angel
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray Double
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Inside the Mind of Criss Angel—a video interview with Criss Angel about his inspirations and work.
  2. Photo Gallery—a brief collection of stills from the show, including some outtakes.
Extras Review: On Disc 1, Criss Angel records an audio commentary for both Burned Alive and Body Suspension. He creates a pleasant listening experience, explaining the show's unique opening titles as well as his thoughts about specific Mindfreaks being depicted. At times the commentary tracks are overly complimentary to the crew members and fail to dish out any information. Then again, since when does a magician tell you his secrets?

Disc 2 begins its special features with three brief featurettes: Card Force, Mental Yarn, and Book Test. Each is an attempt by Angel to perform a Mindfreak through the TV screen by reading your mind. It's a highly ambitious effort, but he actually got it right with me two of the three times. These featurettes can be played separately or all together (04m:24s). Inside the Mind of Criss Angel (12m:14s) is a video interview containing outtakes from the show and offers a brief look into Angel's exercise regimen, beginning in magic, and his thoughts on death. Considering that he predicted a couple of events in the episode Prediction, perhaps the man already knows how he'll die.

Finishing up the extras are a photo gallery and biography. Both are extremely brief, with the latter amounting to little more than a list of his career highlights. Additionally, PC users can access a DVD-ROM feature that teaches you how to do some of his more traditional tricks.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Criss Angel, Mindfreak: The Complete Season One is one of the most amazing, unbelievable things on television. While the extras and presentation are not exceptional, this two-disc set brings all the glory of Criss Angel's talent right into your living room. If you've never seen his work before, you ain't seen nothin' yet!


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