'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark': The new reviews are in!


Image Credit: Jacob Cohl

Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark made its official debut last night after overcoming months of delays, media ridicule, and the departure of original director Julie Taymor. But now the $70 million musical, which got a creative overhaul during a three week hiatus last month, faces its biggest challenge yet: Winning over the critics who widely panned it back in February. So how did it go over?

Generally, critics are responding positively to the show’s major changes, which include a streamlined plot, more aerial action, and reworked songs. A few reviews even sound like mild recommendations, giving the musical credit for its blend of aerial acrobatics and comic book-style storytelling. But detractors — and there are plenty — still give the show failing marks, targeting its incoherent plot and jumbled themes, not to mention a still-snoozy soundtrack. Here’s a sampling:

EW’s Thom Geier gives the show a so-so C+, praising the new stunts and cleared-up plot while noting that the show as a whole doesn’t quite gel. “[Spider-Man] gets full marks for spectacle — Daniel Ezralow’s aerial choreography and George Tsypin’s sets deserve a curtain call all their own — but only partial credit as musical theater… It may be an admirable work of revision, but it’s an unsatisfying meal, like one of mom’s end-of-the-week casseroles made of leftovers she couldn’t bear to toss.

An underwhelmed Ben Brantley at the New York Times says Spider-Man is “no longer the ungodly, indecipherable mess it was in February. It’s just a bore.” He adds: [I]f I knew a less-than-precocious child of 10 or so, and had several hundred dollars to throw away, I would consider taking him or her to the new and improved Spider-Man.” (Well, at least he called it “improved”!)

New York Magazine‘s Scott Brown echoes those sentiments. “I’m sorry to report that the eight-legged, nine-lived megalomusical — which finally opened tonight, in its newly tamed, scared-straight and heavily Zolofted post-Taymor state — has deteriorated from mindblowingly misbegotten carnival-of-the-damned to merely embarrassing dud.

Meanwhile, USA Today‘s Elysa Gardner had kinder words for the show, calling the revamped musical “more of an overt crowd-pleaser,” and characterizing it as “cuter and more cautious than its predecessor, more in line with the winking musical adaptations of famous films and brands that have lined the theater district in recent years.”

Over at Rolling Stone, Evie Nagy calls Spider-Man‘s makeover “too cautious,” while praising its acrobatics. “[The show’s stunts are] thrilling, and fun, and despite everyone’s palpable fear of wire-snapping catastrophe, there aren’t nearly enough.”

And then there’s Bubba. Yes, President Bill Clinton attended the show’s opening last night, and he voiced his support for the show in the form of a press release this morning: “What an amazing and historic night on Broadway. New York has never seen anything like Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. And I am very proud of them for not giving up, it was fabulous.”

What do you think, PopWatchers? Do the new reviews make you want to see the Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, or steer clear of it? Let us know in the comments!

Read more:
Stage Review: ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’

‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark': Pics from the red carpet
Bill Clinton loves Broadway’s ‘Spider-Man’
Even Sesame Street is poking fun at ‘Spider-Man’ musical. Has this show suffered enough?

Comments (27 total) Add your comment
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  • scorpio9094

    I saw the show a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. Hope it has a long and successful run.

    • Cooke

      Took my 11 year old tripplets to see Spiderman last week. We see all age appropriate plays on Broadway and London. We found it basically boring and the story dragged. Save your money! See something else.

  • Johnification

    Scott Brown’s original review from March is a work of critical art, and it almost made me want to see the show back then. I love his new review, too.

  • Mr. Holloway

    So it went from spectacularly, historically bad to…just bad?

    Oh well…at least no one has gotten hurt in a while.

  • Chris

    I hear Paul Young is working on a Jonah Hex musical.

  • LoveforPeace

    I never want to meet some of these critics.

    • Raed

      I love it, skinny and all. I relaly want to see the mask though. Check out the wrists! Webshooters, yeah? Maybe? Also I don’t the any issue with him being slender. I never thought it was much about strength and muscles when it came to Spiderman and he’s supposed to be a teen here, right?

  • David

    sadly, I really wish to see the original mess, much more then I want to see the new improved seemingly bore.

    • Ethan

      Me too! It sounds almost like Southland Tales: The Musical because it’s so bizarre and incomprehensible. I wonder if there’s a market for people drawn to the nutso original version and it’s large enough that they can bring it to audiences someday.

  • CB

    Love the way EW hypes absolutely anything that it thinks will attract mindless readers.

    • Gretchen

      How are they hyping this?? This is a huge story in ENTERTAINMENT. Two of the arguably biggest music stars of the last 20 years attempt to make a musical based on one of the most iconic comic book and movie franchises ever and it SUCKS at first. And even now, the songs, written by the Edge and Bono, are being called “so-so”? Pure entertainment gold. Oh, and it was on the Nightly News as well, so I guess they are hyping it for mindless viewers??

  • Bob

    Are you sure no one from The Producers isn’t involved with the show that could end up being the biggest flop ever on Broadway?

  • JU

    I want to see it.
    It will be a huge hit !

    • CB

      Of course it will.

      Because there is no shortage of culturally challenged people in the world.

      • Vijaya

        I saw you on the Martha Stewart show today but didn’t catch the name of the products you use. Can you tell me what tbey are and where to buy them? I would like to paint my ganndchildrers faces. Thank you.Dolores

  • Chris

    Walking Dead: Chomp Off The Brain!

  • antonio

    i went to the premier. it was a great show!

  • MrNiceGuy

    “Generally, critics are responding positively…” What reviews have you been reading? Your own reviewer gives it a “C+”. This is a monstrosity, and the only thing it has going for it is U2’s legions of lemmings who will give it an “A+” just like they have for the past 6 or 7 lousy U2 albums. Blah.

  • Lorrie

    I saw it two weeks ago with my family and we were all thoroughly entertained! Thumbs up!

  • Ancient Pistol

    I see a pattern. Those who’ve seen it, love it. Those who haven’t, hate it. Critics are split. Next?

  • broadwaybound


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