'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark': Which review is the harshest?

Spider-ManImage Credit: Jacob CohlThugs, mob bosses, criminal masterminds — Spider-Man has bested them all before. But the web-slinging superhero might’ve finally met his ultimate match in the theater critics who are slamming the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, now in previews at the Foxwoods Theatre. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Variety are among the news outlets that have weighed in on the high-profile production over the past 24 hours, breaking with Broadway tradition by ignoring the show’s official March 15 opening date. Many of the critics noted that Feb. 7 was Spider-Man‘s scheduled debut before the most recent postponement — just the latest bump in the road for the accident-plagued musical, which also happens to be the most expensive in Broadway history. Check out their thoughts after the jump!

Spider-Man is not only the most expensive musical ever to hit Broadway; it may also rank among the worst.” –Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“Julie Taymor’s $65-million, accident-prone production, featuring an erratic score by U2’s Bono and The Edge, is a teetering colossus that can’t find its bearings as a circus spectacle or as a rock musical.” — Charles McNulty, The Los Angeles Times

“[The] story… is sketchy and ill-formed. Some of the dialogue, by Taymor and Glen Berger, seems ad-libbed on the spot and there are a couple of big holes in the story.” — Steven Suskin, Variety

“[A]n underwhelming score is the least of the show’s worries. What really sinks it is the borderline incoherence of its storytelling… For rubberneckers eager to see what the fuss is about, there may be enough noisy spectacle here to convince them they’ve seen something. But when this amount of time and money is tossed at a show, even demanding theatergoers should be awed, not bored.” — David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“The 8-year-old boys in the audience might be able to key on the Cirque du Soleil-style stunts on wires and video-game graphic elements, and probably not worry too much that Spider-Man is a tangle of disjointed concepts, scenes and musical sequences that suggests its more appropriate home would be off a highway in Orlando. Come to think of it, the optimal audience might be non-English-speaking.” — Peter Marks, The Washington Post

“The second act, taken all in all, is basically how I’ve always imagined the Björk–Matthew Barney honeymoon: lots of atavistic rock-moaning, lots of 40-story phallic symbols, lots of bees.” — Scott Brown, New York Magazine

UPDATE: For those of us who are more visually inclined (read: lazy), one creative YouTube user has come to the rescue with a video round-up of the zingiest critical barbs intercut with clips and music from the 1967 animated series. Check it out!


Spider-Man reviews
– Watch more Videos at Vodpod.


Read more:
‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ spokesman reacts to reviews — EXCLUSIVE
‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ actress says ‘major changes’ are under way — EXCLUSIVE
Glenn Beck passionately reviews Broadway’s ‘Spider-Man': ‘This is better than Wicked!’
‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark': The first (unofficial) reviews are in
‘Spider-Man’ accident blamed on ‘human error’

Comments (29 total) Add your comment
  • MWeyer

    Sounds like we need a sequal to the book “Not Since ‘Carrie'” that covers the history of Broadway bombs.

    • JR

      I’ve been waiting forever for it to be updated. Thanks Spidey for being the show to make it happen.

      • Jason

        Doesn’t a show need to consistently play to a half-empty theater to be considered a bomb?
        I could have sworn this show has sold the most tickets of any broadway production since it opened up for previews in December.
        Looks like you two idiots are putting the cart before the horse

      • Gabe

        Jason, considering how much money they spent on it “Spiderman” is definitely a bomb. Also, it hasn’t even broken the top 20 of most tickets sold by a Broadway production. I don’t know where you heard that, but that’s just flat-out wrong.

    • Jason

      Looks like you need to learn how to spell,the word is “sequel”
      Your punctuation sucks too

      • cc

        Someone who doesn’t put a period at the end of his sentences is telling someone else their punctuation sucks? And who doesn’t put the comma in between “sucks” and “too”? And who doesn’t leave a space after “spell,”? And who should have left a period there anyway? LOL! ‘Tards are funny!

  • Foswell

    I bet J. Jonah Jameson is behind all the media backlash against this musical. He hates anything Spider-Man!

    • jack

      lmao great

  • Brad

    Scott Brown’s review is definitely the most thoughtful, least whiny and well-written of them.

    • Mole

      Hey! Brad! Fancy running into you on this one, too. The quote’s a little misleading though, because there are parts of the review that seem to indicate he may have actually liked it, in a weird Pop Art way.

      • Brad

        Ya, I’m piggybacking on you on this one a bit, Mole. I have tickets to see it in March after it will allegedly open and I was dreading it, hoping it would fold and I would get a refund, until I read Brown’s review. Now I’m totally stoked to approach it as “extreme camp” and “theatre of the broken,” both which sound like one hell of an evening at the Foxwoods Theatre.

      • Will G

        To answer the question in the headline of this post, I think Ben Brantley’s is by far the harshest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him blast a show with quite this much venom. In the old days a review like that from the Times would shutter a show immediately, the producers should be thankful those days are gone.

      • Will G

        Sorry, I hit the “Reply” button by mistake.

    • Mindy

      Scott Brown’s review is the most interesting. The quote EW picked for this post is deliciously funny. Brown’s piece makes it seem like if you approach it with the right frame of mind it could be a fun experience.

      Brantley’s is the harshest.

  • mike peters

    I recall reading that only 1 in 20 Broadway shows makes money. Look, the “Honeymooners” was one of the best shows in TV history–all it had was a simple box set. The secret to a good show is good writing and good acting, not money. If money was the answer then billionaires would be movie stars.

  • fromMarkHall

    Hmm, this does not bode well to adapting other Super Bowl Half Time shows for Broadway…

  • rerun

    Sound like they’re stuck in a web…a web of suck! Am I right fellas?

  • Ames

    “… is basically how I’ve always imagined the Björk–Matthew Barney honeymoon:” <– This is about the weirdest sentence I've ever read. Why, dude, why?

  • Stephanie T.

    I knew that this was going to be a flop. It is.

  • Mike

    If only they had made Spiderman gay and had the Green Goblin throw in some anti-Christian comments. Then the idiot critics would have loved it.

    • Jason

      Well said

      • CPaulC

        Well, at least that would have made the show interesting.

  • Walt Nust

    I saw the show and I can only compare it to a cheap traveling circus. What a waste of money!

  • Scott

    I saw Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and loved it. I thought it innovative and exciting. AND, I’m an avid theater goer. I think everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I don’t understand those critics who were unkind before even seeing the show and why the major press couldn’t wait until 15 March.

    • Mary McQuire

      You must be associated with the show.

  • em g

    oh pulease “not cool”? these guys need to go read something about David Merrick and his feuds with critics especially Frank Rich.

  • CPaulC

    I saw Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark a couple of weeks ago. It’s an incoherent mess. Some of the visuals are stunning, to be sure – especially the Chrysler Building set. But the first act skims along the same plot points as the first Spiderman movie in such an uninspired, obligatory way, I thought, what’s the point of doign the same thing that’s already been done in another medium, only better? And the second act was a convoluted mess. I realize that the producers are planning changes to the second act. How ’bout changing the whole thing? To me, that’s the only hope they have for making it better.
    I think the decision by critics to review it on it’s previously announced opening day is entirely fair, given that this thing has been in a delayed-preview period for so long already.
    But it does have an audience and I think it will run for a little while. Can’t see the producers recouping their investment, though.

  • dino

    I already forgot how bad the show was until Iread the reviews.We went Saterday afternoon and could not wait until it was over. there was four of us nobody liked it. Long and forgetful save your Money.

  • rene

    The whole problem is Julie Taymor being too full of herself.

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