fter a record-breaking 183 preview performances and a string of cast injuries, Broadway's favorite punchline, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, finally opened officially Tuesday. When critics famously ridiculed the $75 million musical during February previews, ranking it "among the worst" productions of all time, producers shuttered the show for three weeks of creative retooling before recommencing previews. Maligned director Julie Taymor has been replaced, U2's Bono and the Edge have written new songs, and the plot has been significantly reworked. Have the changes paid off? (Watch a PBS discussion about the show's debut.)
Nope. It's still "a bloated monster with bad music": With a show so fundamentally misconceived, it's naive to expect miracles, says David Rooney at The Hollywood Reporter. The revised version remains "terminally clunky" and "dumbed-down," a series of "mechanized thrills" with thinly developed characters. And let's face it: Bono and the Edge have produced a "mediocre" score that amounts to "third-rate entertainment." Simply put, "there's no compelling reason for Spider-Man to be a musical."
"Spider-Man still a bloated monster with bad music"
It's no longer a mess, "it's just a bore": I'm upgrading the new Spider-Man "from jaw-dropping badness to mere mediocrity," says Ben Brantley at The New York Times. Although the spectacular sets remain intact, the latest version "bears only a scant resemblance to the muddled fever dream that" preceded it: "Anyone can follow the story now." Unfortunately, one-note characters, high-flying stunts, and songs reminiscent of the 1980s and '90s combine to make a show that's better suited for "Coney Island" than a Broadway stage.
"1 radioactive bite, 8 legs and 183 previews"
Wait a minute. It's actually pretty good: Spider-Man "2.0" is "cuter" than its predecessor, like other "winking" musical adaptations of movies, says Elysa Gardner at USA Today. The title character has wisely been rewritten to align more with the beloved Spider-Man of the comics and the film franchise. The welcome result: "Spider-Man is more of an overt crowd pleaser" that no longer relies solely on "technology or gadgetry to take flight."
"Spider-Man (finally) soars onstage"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Attack of the invasive species
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- Why Easter is so important to Christians
Subscribe to the Week