The 9 Most Scathing Critical Responses to Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark
Julie Taymor's troubled production of Spiderman: Turn off the Dark has become such an easy target over the last several months that the part of me that roots for the underdog (Yeah I know, the bloated $65 million dollar underdog.) was kind of hoping it'd pull through on the second wave of reviews. No such luck. Most major theatre critics ignored that ill-advised opening date change and went ahead and ran their reviews this week. They're actually a little worse than the initial set of negative reactions, with even the non-negative reviews reading as sympathetic rather than actually positive. And so, while we usually reserve our "Most Scathing Reviews" feature for movies, we'll make an exception for this Broadway production that seems to wish it was a movie.
9. "Never mind turning off the dark. I spent much of this dreadful new musical muttering Please, Lord, make it stop." -- Charles Spencer, The Telegraph
8. "For without a book with consistent rules that a mainstream audience can follow and track, without characters in whom one can invest emotionally, without a sense of the empowering optimism that should come from time spent in the presence of a good, kind man who can walk up buildings and save our lousy world from evil, it is all just clatter and chatter." -- Chris Jones, The Chicago Tribune
7. "Spider-Man is chaotic, dull and a little silly. And there's nothing here half as catchy as the 1967 ABC cartoon theme tune." -- David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
6. "More dispiriting is the music... [Bono and the Edge] transformed their sound into stock Broadway schlock pop--sentimental wailing from the early Andrew Lloyd Webber playbook, winceable lyrics and the kind of thumpa-thumpa music that passes for suspense in action flicks." -- Linda Winer, Newsday
5. "Or wait, maybe the bottom of the barrel is a weird on-the-runway sequence, in which a cadre of second-tier villains with names like Swiss Miss and Carnage do a bit of high-fashion sashaying. In the running, too, is a bizarre military number, as well as the first-act closer, a rip-off of a Rodgers and Hart song. The latter is sung by - get out your score cards - the other main-event evildoer, the Green Goblin, a former scientist played by the talented classical actor Patrick Page." -- Peter Marks, The Washington Post
4. "Who exactly is "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" for anyway? The only answer I can come up with is an audience of Julie Taymor types who care only about panoramic sensibility-- a bit of slow-mo choreography here, a smattering of diabolical mask work there. Much as I enjoyed the clever shifts in perspective during the skyscraper scenes, it was hard for me to picture adults or young people yearning for a second visit, never mind critics who may feel obliged to check back in with the production when (or should I say if?) it officially opens. Nothing cures the curiosity about "Spider-Man" quite like seeing it." -- Charles McNulty, The LA Times
3. "After all this expenditure of talent and money, "Spider- Man" is probably unfixable because too much has gone into making humans fly, which is not what they are good at. It imitates poorly what the "Spider-Man" movies do brilliantly with computer graphics -- and without putting live actors in jeopardy." -- Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg
2. "This production should play up regularly and resonantly the promise that things could go wrong. Because only when things go wrong in this production does it feel remotely right -- if, by right, one means entertaining. So keep the fear factor an active part of the show, guys, and stock the Foxwoods gift shops with souvenir crash helmets and T-shirts that say "I saw 'Spider-Man' and lived." Otherwise, a more appropriate slogan would be "I saw 'Spider-Man' and slept." -- Ben Brantley, New York Times
1. "It's by turns hyperstimulated, vivid, lurid, overeducated, underbaked, terrifying, confusing, distracted, ridiculously slick, shockingly clumsy, unmistakably monomaniacal and clinically bipolar...At this point, I honestly hope they never fix the (non-injurious) glitches: They puncture the show's pretense and furnish meta-theatrical opportunities that can't be staged. We've had Epic Theater, we've had Poor Theater -- is this the dawn of Broken Theater?" -- Scott Brown, From his review in New York Magazine, which is actually neither negative, positive or even neutral, but seems to sum up the irrationality of the whole enterprise better than any other.