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BMZ Review: Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Box (3D)
By Herb Lash


BMZ Review of Siegfred and Roy: The Magic Box
Written by: Herb Lash
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: November 2000


Category: Reviews

It has been said that there are two types of people - those who find peace of  mind in the mountains and those who take great solace from ocean horizons.  The ideal marriage joins the ocean hearted person and the mountain loving person. What else then, but magic, could have come from the union of Siegfried of the German Alps and Roy of the North Sea?  Written and directed by Brett Leonard, SIEGFRIED & ROY: THE MAGIC BOX is the story of how the Vegas legends came to be, and came together.  It is a 3-D blend of the ultra-ordinary and the ultra-strange.

The rich-voiced Anthony Hopkins narrates the intended storybook tale, set in the not so magical atmosphere of post WWII Germany. The by the numbers narrative does a thoroughly capable job of explaining the origins of the Siegfried and Roy fairytale.  But this begs a larger question: Who cares?  Most likely the Siegfried and Roy weirdness factor will float over the heads of the intended child audience. Together they possess that sort of celebrity-from-another-planet personality that Richard Simmons, Michael Jackson, Liberace and Dennis Rodman exude. Their allure is full of an unnamable, sparkly oddness.

Explicable or not, the Siegfried & Roy stage show at the Mirage Casino is an undeniably popular attraction. The film neatly incorporates elaborate bits from the actual Mirage stage show: cat men, robot dragons and gold metallic dominatrix Amazon women are just part of spectacle. But the magic tricks from the show disappoint - they are familiar and remarkably underwhelming. 

The real magic behind Siegfried and Roy's success becomes evident as the white lions and tigers take striking 3-D strolls through the audience.  Audible squeals of delight sound up from the kiddy sections as fuzzy 3-D tiger cubs mew and paw out over the seats.  Teamed with the Big Cats is a meticulous production design that seamlessly blends whimsical digital elements, and makes it fairly easy to ignore the more front and center love story from another planet (kids are unlikely to catch on to this element). The entire square footage of the IMAX® screen is put to imaginative and truly artful use throughout the movie.

For the most part, the story of Sigfried’s and Roy’s childhoods in Europe after WWII is forgettable, save for Roy’s incredible journey to the famed Baden Zoo, rendered in a fantastical maze of 3-D cages.  Like much of the film's often beautiful production design, the zoo comes to life on the IMAX screen as an enormous pop-out picture book. Soon, Roy is cuddling with Chico the Cheetah the way others have danced with wolves, and the two boy dreamers are just a few years away from a destined meeting  aboard a luxury ocean liner where Siegfried has been hired on as the ship's magician.  Over a candlelight dinner, Roy convinces Siegfried to lose the rabbit and to instead pull Chico the Cheetah out of the hat – and suddenly  the dynamic duo are just a few white tigers, lions and androgynous dancers away from Vegas Superstardom.

They say sharing the stage with children or animals is always a mistake. The big white cats that prowl this stage demand attention and are rivetting - their scene stealing magnetism is more than the collective Siegfried and Roy ego can handle. By narcissistic design the lions and tigers are too often background for the supernatural Siegfried and Roy personality.  Roy's everpresent codpiece in 3-D leaps out from the screen more often than any of the crouched tigers do. (To be fair to the filmmakers, the codpiece is certainly more frightening.)  The close of the film highlights Siegfried and Roy's admirable efforts to preserve and protect white tigers and lions in the wild. But as Roy wrestles with white tigers in the deep end of a Vegas swimming pool, one is left with the impression that these cats have about as much in common with real tigers as Siegfried & Roy have in common with us. 

IMAX® is a registered trademark of IMAX Corporation.

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