Criss Angel Mindfreak
At a Glance
What is it?
A new iteration of illusionist Criss Angel’s long-running production.
Where is it?
In the newly dubbed Criss Angel Theater on the mezzanine level at Planet Hollywood on the Center Strip.
Is it worth the cost?
Angel packs a lot of illusions into this show, so the bang for your buck quotient is high.
Why should I see this show?
Because you’re a fan illusions and spectacle.
What else do I need to know?
Some of the illusions are graphic and a bit disturbing.
What’s the bottom line?
We could all use a little magic in our lives.
After 10 very successful years at Luxor, Criss Angel returned to his roots – the hotel where he did his first big show in Vegas, Planet Hollywood. He calls it an all-new show and in some ways it is, but there’s also a lot of familiar material if you have seen it in the last couple of years.
Before going to the show, it’s worth noting that fans of Criss Angel can check out the new Mindfreak Lobby Experience. The high-tech attraction features immersive video, projection holograms, and other wow-worthy moments on his career in magic and also has a bunch of memorabilia on display. It’s free to visit and is open to anyone Mon-Tue from 2:30-10pm and Wed-Sun 12-5pm. Ticketholders get exclusive access from 6-9:30pm on show nights Wednesday through Sunday.
The theater at Planet Hollywood holds roughly the same number of people as the one at Luxor did but it feels more intimate and certainly more bright. They have installed what they bill as the largest number of lights – stage, LED, and otherwise – in Las Vegas and it looks it. There are LED screens behind the stage and above and on both sides of the audience, plus a gazillion or so other lights designed to make the production flashier. It works and serves to give some new dimensions to illusions you may have seen before.
He does a lot of the “hey there’s someone here, no wait they’re over there!” type of tricks, with various showgirls, masked men, and motorcycles disappearing and then reappearing out of thin air. It’s still effective and elicits a few gasps from the audience.
Some close-up magic with coins is pretty cool as is his bird bit and standard swallowing of razor blades gag. Gruesome but cool. Other holdovers include an homage to fellow magician Lance Burton that recreates a bit he used to do in his show – a sword fight with a masked man – and put a 21st century, high tech spin on it with 3D graphics and a really cool slow-motion effect that evoked “The Matrix” where Neo dodges bullets.
And the very touching tribute to people who have dealt with cancer – his young son’s bout with leukemia is still very powerful. The classic levitation bit where he seemingly makes someone float was re-imagined as a tribute to children with cancer, including video and photographs of kids he has met that have dealt with the disease. It’s both heartbreaking and uplifting – a celebration of life and a giant middle finger to the disease.
New (or at least I haven’t seen it) to the show is a sequence where he invites people up on stage, asks them their deepest fear, and then somehow manages to produce manifestations of those fears in front of them. Hint… if you get pulled up on stage, don’t say spiders or snakes. You won’t like how it ends.
There’s also a fun illusion involving an audience member, a $100 bill, and a video that he supposedly filmed weeks ago that is frighteningly prescient.
So, yes, Angel is still Angel and his illusions are still top notch, but there is also a bit of a problem. I’m not sure why taking a woman hostage, chaining her to a table while she struggles, and then sawing her in half with a giant industrial saw didn’t bother me before, but it does now. Maybe it’s because of the new graphics they have on those big screens of female dolls on meat hooks being sent, conveyor belt style, into whirling blades.
I don’t know, maybe it’s the #MeToo movement or maybe I’ve just gotten too sensitive in my old age, but some of the material in Angel’s show gave me the creeps and not in a good way. I’m not saying don’t saw the woman in half, but maybe there are other ways to do it that don’t look like a snuff film.
The “new” show still has all the elements that made it such a hit for a decade with some new flash and sizzle to make it fresh, so Angel fans can have an excuse to go back and see it again. I’m still a fan and I still recommend this show, but with a few reservations. When you see the big saw come out, go get a drink.