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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magic names and the media » » Criss Angel's show reviewed by the Las Vegas Sun newspaper (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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asianmagic
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Here is a review of "Believe" by Joe Brown, of the Las Vegas Sun newspaper.

Title: Illusion is Elusive in Angel’s ‘Believe’
by Joe Brown

No wonder.

That — among its many, more obvious failings — is the fatal flaw at the heart of “Criss Angel: Believe.”

There’s just no wonder in it.

In fact, there’s shockingly little magic to be seen in this much-anticipated Cirque du Soleil spectacle constructed around a celebrity magician. No shock, no awe, precious little surprise, even.

Cirque throws everything in its considerable arsenal of stage genius at Angel — the expected array of lush, loud music, expert dancers and aerialists, lavish settings and boundary-breaking special effects, all intended to amaze.

The single most amazing thing about “Believe” is that it’s still so boring.

For a reported $100 million, Cirque has bought itself its first bona fide bomb.

Angel, who is signed to a 10-year contract, hasn’t managed to make all that money vanish completely, however. Cirque makes everything look and sound sumptuous, of course. The 1,600-seat purpose-built theater at the Luxor makes a promising first impression, with its gilded rococo proscenium arch and decadently luxe crimson curtains.

After the customary preshow clowning, the show kicks off abruptly with an intentional false start, a very loud video infomercial for Angel’s A&E TV series “Mindfreak.” And then Angel materializes, descending slowly from the ceiling in Jesus pose. (He’s been outdone by Cher in the Big Entrance category).

Angel romps through the audience, shrieking “Mindfreak!” and “I’m tellin’ you, this is gonna be CRAZY!” and “I swear to you, this is just nuts!” in his Lawn Guyland accent, slapping hands and accepting gifts, including lots of stuffed animals and a homemade banner with ironed-on images of Angel’s cat Hammy and other significant Angel icons on a white bedsheet. (This turns out to be a rather obvious plant.)

The video run-through of Angel’s greatest stunts — being crushed by a steamroller, cutting himself in half, etc. — serves only to show up how puny and paltry his stuff looks on stage. He’s got nothing without postproduction editing.

“Believe” contains very few of the sort of extreme stunts and illusions Angel made his name on. At one point, he invokes his beloved late father, and then taunts death. “What you’re lookin’ at is 6 million volts,” Angel shouts, and, costumed in skintight reflective foil, he tosses a baked potato into an enormous, buzzing and hissing Tesla coil to demonstrate its deadliness.

BOOM! Blackout. Cut to video of Angel, gruesomely burned, one-eyed, his face bubbling like bacon, being wheeled away on a gurney as actors scream in horror offstage.

Then Angel — and the show — plunges into fever dream, an enactment of Angel’s interior Inferno.

His delirium involves ascents and descents and births and deaths, depicted by squads of dancing bunnies and moles. And there’s a continual struggle over his usually shirtless bod between his stage assistants, Kayala, an angelic ever-receding woman in white and Crimson, a devouring, demonic black woman.

(Not even going there.)

Angel’s near-death fantasies are dominated by bunnies (a wink to rumored girlfriend Holly Madison?). Big bunnies, small bunnies, robot bunnies and giant puppet bunnies, good bunnies and bad, bad bunnies. The show’s single most memorable image involves a giant severed bunny head that rolls over and tap dances on its ears.

There’s also a gorgeous scene in which a field of giant red California poppies gradually gathers, floating down and sprouting up and putting his demons to sleep. An onstage tornado blew away.

The entire hallucination sequence is a Frankenstein quilt of undigested chunks of “Donnie Darko,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and even Pink Floyd’s “Animals” album. At one point, after rising from his gurney, Angel actually says, “And you were there, and you were there — and you tried to kill me. And (to the audience) you were there!”

Camp followers — the types who relish gems of unintentional badness like “Showgirls” and well, “Springtime for Hitler” — are advised to get tickets soon.

As I said, magic-lovers are shortchanged. We get a remote-writing trick involving a suspended locked box, a flock of doves that appear and fly above audience, some piddling flashpaper fire-work, lots of clever screenplay, with Angel popping in and out of the projected images, and an enjoyably gory set piece with Angel sawed in half by a chainsaw-wielding bunny.

All his illusions are obscured by flashing strobes, clouds of fog and other standard methods of distraction and misdirection. The Fright Dome Halloween haunted house at Circus Circus employed many of the same effects, to better result, for $35.

A charmless mook, Angel is a rudimentary stage performer — he’s barely believable playing himself. But those who are hoping for an in-person look at his gleaming tattooed torso will get their money’s worth.

Many of the Cirque set pieces seem familiar by now: There’s a scaled-down version of the vertical wall-walking from “Ka,” and the onstage rock guitarist and drummer, too. A quartet of frantic clowns serve as Angel’s bumbling “Ushers,” and a pair of grotesque living dolls are tarted up like Victorian prostitutes. Aerialists sport angel wings, and the squad of dancers is ingeniously costumed as bunnies, rats, moles and spiny reptiles, although their stiff-legged, copy-“Cats” moves suggest seizures in progress.

The music, usually an enchanting, unifying element of Cirque productions, is a disappointment, a banal, bombastic mishmash of “Carmina Burana” melodrama, mix-tape exoticism and mock-rock opera.

The incoherent evening is haunted by a recurring Magritte-like image of an empty gilded picture frame. And that, finally, is the truest metaphor for “Criss Angel: Believe”: a gorgeous golden structure surrounding a void.
pepka
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Wow, I have a feeling the reviewer is holding back. I wonder how he REALLY feels?
Brent McLeod
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Doesn't matter who you are as a performer
as the saying says-"Your only as good as your last show!!"


Theres a lot of competition in Vegas-I hope Chris Angel takes a few points on board
from the reviewer, mind you after that review hes got heaps to work on!!!!!

The following type comments must be a worrry!!!!!

"The video run-through of Angel's greatest stunts — being crushed by a steamroller, cutting himself in half, etc. - serves only to show up how puny and paltry his stuff looks on stage," said Brown. "He's got nothing without postproduction editing....A charmless mook, Angel is a rudimentary stage performer - he's barely believable playing himself."
Blair Marshall
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Cirque promotion has gone into overdrive on this one. Check your local papers for stories on the show. Guess they are trying to work on travellers to Vegas on this one. Here in Montreal (Cirque home) there were several write-ups on this show this weekend (photos etc.), and surprisingly at the same time, their others. Including the show in New York over the holidays.

I did drop a note to the local reporter about how she made my day (which I did chuckle about) referring to 40 something Criss as: "the sexiest young man in the magician biz" and that he is a "hip young magician". I said, if this is the case, there must still be a chance for me!!! LOL

On a sad note, it is too bad if this show does not make it. I don't worry about the Cirque, but it would have been great to bring attention to our art (and grand illusion) if it had been a HUGE success!!! It would have been nice for a change to see some interest directed to the "big" stuff by the public.

Blair
Magical Dimensions
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Criss seem to have gotten bigger that his britches. He had bad mouth all magicians, telling everyone that he was the greatest. Never giving credit to the MAGICIANS behind the scenes who were on his payroll.

I say that good things come to those who wait. In this case, it is fitting that he is falling on his assssssss. He is the world’s greatest magician; just ask him, he’ll tell you. LOL

I think that it is funny, but still, he gets the last laugh, because he is still getting paid to perform.

I am sure that you guys have heard the phase, 'You need a place to be bad in' meaning that you need a place to practice and hone your act. This is true, BUT VEGAS IT NOT THE PLACE TO DO THIS!

People come to Vegas to see the BEST, not a middle age Goth guy who apparently don't have the chops to pull this off!

I heard others on the Café, saying that they hope that the show can be saved. I do not agree on this. I am the first to admit that I am not a big time entertainer, but I know that as an entertainer, my show/program is ready BEFORE I step out onto the boards! As an entertainer it is MY job to have all the bugs worked out BEFORE people PAID to see me.

I have to laugh when people write that they hope the show can be saved. What a joke!

If Criss WAS a REAL professional, the DARN SHOW WOULD HAVE BEEN READY!
There are NO excuses that you can make here! This is VEGAS, not the old folk’s home yearly x-mass party!

Criss, wanted to play in the BIG SANDBOX, but seems that he is getting sand kick in his face and dumped down the back of his pants!

No excuses please. Vegas is for the professionals not the want a-bees. If a show in VEGAS needs to be saved, then it needs to close, because it was not READY to open in the FIRST PLACE. This is the big time, so let’s act like big boys here and call a fish a fish.

Close the show, the paying public will think you for it!

Case close!

Hey, let get that old guy to do it, Yea, I know he could do it! You know one of the guys that Criss made fun of, that Copperfield fellow! LOL


Best
ray
Blair Marshall
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Unfortunately with the high tech shows today there can be no "out of town" tryouts, or breaking in time for a show. Not sure how this show was put together, but did not hear much about the pre-show prep here in Montreal.

The concept seems to be somewhat flawed (it's the first time Cirque has used a "living" name to "front" one of their shows).

B
OHCollector
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I tend to think that Copperfield with Cirque would mean big box office and positive reviews.
holycrikey
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Quote:

On a sad note, it is too bad if this show does not make it. I don't worry about the Cirque, but it would have been great to bring attention to our art (and grand illusion) if it had been a HUGE success!!! It would have been nice for a change to see some interest directed to the "big" stuff by the public.

Blair


I too had the same thoughts. It would have been a great chance to focus attention on the grand illusions and really propel magic to one of the mainstream entertainment around the whole world - proving that magic (grand illusions in particular) as much as other stuff is a true art form and accepted as top notch world-class entertainment.
Magical Dimensions
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Quote:
On 2008-11-02 20:54, holycrikey wrote:
Quote:

On a sad note, it is too bad if this show does not make it. I don't worry about the Cirque, but it would have been great to bring attention to our art (and grand illusion) if it had been a HUGE success!!! It would have been nice for a change to see some interest directed to the "big" stuff by the public.

Blair


I too had the same thoughts. It would have been a great chance to focus attention on the grand illusions and really propel magic to one of the mainstream entertainment around the whole world - proving that magic (grand illusions in particular) as much as other stuff is a true art form and accepted as top notch world-class entertainment.




I agree, but this program is showing magic in a poor light. This thing needs to go away!


Best
ray
Silvio Solaris
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Quote:
On 2008-11-02 21:24, Magical Dimensions wrote:
Quote:
On 2008-11-02 20:54, holycrikey wrote:
Quote:

On a sad note, it is too bad if this show does not make it. I don't worry about the Cirque, but it would have been great to bring attention to our art (and grand illusion) if it had been a HUGE success!!! It would have been nice for a change to see some interest directed to the "big" stuff by the public.

Blair


I too had the same thoughts. It would have been a great chance to focus attention on the grand illusions and really propel magic to one of the mainstream entertainment around the whole world - proving that magic (grand illusions in particular) as much as other stuff is a true art form and accepted as top notch world-class entertainment.




I agree, but this program is showing magic in a poor light. This thing needs to go away!


Best
ray


Let's slip Angel the plans of the transporter Illusion from the movie 'The Prestige' Smile
Magical Wishes

Silvio Solaris

'Is all that we see and seem but a dream within a dream?' E.A.Poe
TaylorReed
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I went to google and found Criss Angle reviews on Las Vegas Review Journal and the LA Times also..... I don't no how to cut and paste it....Sorry.

None of these were in favor of the show..

Taylor
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See: The Magic and Comedy of Taylor Reed, Live in Branson, Mo
Chad Sanborn
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Here is another link to a review on his show...

http://www.unlvrebelyell.com/article.php?ID=12712

Seems these review repeat 2 common themes. One that the Cirque Show is bad. And secondly and more suprisingly, that they all mention his tv show and his magic is created in post-production!

Apparently a lot of people think that his magic is really fake and edited in to make it work!
Blair Marshall
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Even the reviews here in Montreal (Cirque's home town) in French were not good. Cirque takes reporters down from here to their openings, and this one did not give it a glowing review.

B
Amazing Magic Co
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While I am not a Chris Angel fan, I certainly celebrate and cheer on anyone who contributes to the popular appeal of magic.

Dan.
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Ive been told by someone in the luxor marketing department the show will be closing late this year, early next year at best. Most shows slack off and close down for the holiday season in LV.... they are going to use this time period to hope it goes away quickly and quietly as if they were just another show taking a holiday break.

Luxor has had more complaints since the opening of the show than they've had in the past five years all together.

Major flop due to lack of talent! If you didn't see this coming, than youve got your head lodged in angel's pants!
Magicque
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Just give the people of Cirque du Soleil a chance to work things out! They have a lot of talent!!!
Eric
Blair Marshall
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They have a lot of talent! Yes.....but.......

B
GreatWizardoftheEast
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Cirque and a magic show are a great combo, IF you have the right person. But Criss Angel? Come on? Who really expected this to work? I don't think it makes magic look bad. One of the problems with the show is lack of magic. Johnny Rockstar did this to himself and made one of the most successful entertainment companies look bad in the process.
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Blair Marshall
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Here's my Oct. 1 comments, read what folks have to say about the show, and compare to below. Note that I do not bash Criss in the comments.

Ok let's look at expectations (this may be a long post, so Steve, I don't expect you to read all of it - LOL)

1) Criss is a magician, and has in the (distant) past proved he was good with a live show. This is NOT a Criss Angel magic show!

2) People are going to see Chris do a magic show, same issues arise here as to when folks debated here when is dancing too much dancing in a magic show. Dancing rabbits may not be their thing. Even if well done, and by the Cirque.

3) Criss has "Mindfreak" groupies, I would think that this demographic will not support the show financially, or in attendance, and will certainly not want to see a "cirque" type show.

4) Criss's image needs an overhaul, over 40 biker dude with a shirt off/open is not his strong selling point. And I don't think this image will pull the $$$$ gamblers. (At his ticket price, and bearing in mind their age range.)

5) Vegas has been going family, this is not a family show.

6) I live in "Cirque" city (Montreal) and have never been to see one of their live shows. As a performer I feel I should ie. know your competition, but I have no interest in seeing one of their productions. Maybe this carries over to other variety performers/magicians? I find it much ado about nothing, and somewhat pretentious.


I hope the show can be saved, but it is sounding more like a "cirque" show, than a Criss Angel magic show. Maybe Criss has sold his soul?"

A ten year contract???? What would YOU sell for that?

B
Silvio Solaris
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Quote:
On 2008-11-03 22:17, Blair Marshall wrote:
Here's my Oct. 1 comments, read what folks have to say about the show, and compare to below. Note that I do not bash Criss in the comments.

Ok let's look at expectations (this may be a long post, so Steve, I don't expect you to read all of it - LOL)

1) Criss is a magician, and has in the (distant) past proved he was good with a live show. This is NOT a Criss Angel magic show!

2) People are going to see Chris do a magic show, same issues arise here as to when folks debated here when is dancing too much dancing in a magic show. Dancing rabbits may not be their thing. Even if well done, and by the Cirque.

3) Criss has "Mindfreak" groupies, I would think that this demographic will not support the show financially, or in attendance, and will certainly not want to see a "cirque" type show.

4) Criss's image needs an overhaul, over 40 biker dude with a shirt off/open is not his strong selling point. And I don't think this image will pull the $$$$ gamblers. (At his ticket price, and bearing in mind their age range.)

5) Vegas has been going family, this is not a family show.

6) I live in "Cirque" city (Montreal) and have never been to see one of their live shows. As a performer I feel I should ie. know your competition, but I have no interest in seeing one of their productions. Maybe this carries over to other variety performers/magicians? I find it much ado about nothing, and somewhat pretentious.


I hope the show can be saved, but it is sounding more like a "cirque" show, than a Criss Angel magic show. Maybe Criss has sold his soul?"

A ten year contract???? What would YOU sell for that?

B


:rotf: You are so right that it hurts Blair. LOL

That's what Criss get's for bashing others and portraying himself as the newage God of magic. If Karma does exist in our craft then Criss is in for a ride... Smile
Magical Wishes

Silvio Solaris

'Is all that we see and seem but a dream within a dream?' E.A.Poe
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