January 27, 2011
Spidey: That's what $65 million looks like
I went to see Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark last night with our old friend and former contributor Emily. We found some discounted tickets, and figured it was our cultural duty to bear witness to the most ambitious, bloated, beleaguered, and expensive theatrical production in Broadway history.
While some theater critics are trying, with growing annoyance, to follow the preview convention and not review the show until it officially opens (at last report, on March 15--are the producers cursing their own show?) other people, like Glenn Beck, have happily shared their critiques. Unlike Glenn Beck, I think we'd all be better off skipping the show and keeping both our kidneys.
Beck says that the reason he liked the show, and others didn't, is that there's "too much action and flying around." Not quite. The only good parts of the show were the action and the flying around, and there wasn't anywhere near enough.
Here's how you'd make this show good: More Flying Around. Cut the first 45 minutes of exposition and talking. Get Peter Parker and Norman Osborn to transform into their superhero/supervillain alter-egos in the first 5 minutes. Then get to the scene where the main actors all fly through the air, literally using all the space in the theater in a way no other show I've ever seen has done. There's one fantastic moment when you in the audience feel like you're on top of the Chrysler Building looking down at the traffic below, and it's awesome.
Other than the flying around, which there isn't enough of, scenes were good if they looked like rock concerts. Specifically: a scene right out of Lady Gaga's last tour with a chorus of taut, sinewy soldier dancers wearing militaristic leg-warmers and hot pants. A scene of super-villains vamping down a runway with cool exploding costumes made out of armor and lizard skin and pretend bees, which Em thought looked just like a Misfits concert. And a scene of a mythical Spider-woman hovering ghost-like over a sleeping Peter Parker and whisper-singing a creepy, dreamy song, like something out of a Tori Amos video.
Another way to make the show good: More The Edge-Style Guitars. The music is forgettable and weak, except for a few song intros that had that big, arena-filling, shimmery, delay-heavy guitar sound that, considering it was written by U2, I though we'd hear more often. A brief piano-lounge rendition of "We'll Have Manhattan" by the Green Goblin got the biggest laugh of the night.
This show looks like what you get when you spend most of your $65 million budget on insurance.
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