After six delays, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark finally opened on Broadway on Tuesday night. The production was savaged months ago when many critics got fed up with waiting through months of previews and collectively decided that the world needed their opinions without waiting any longer. So bad were the reviews that director Julie Taymor was essentially fired and a new creative team brought in to create what's now being referred to as "Spider-Man 2.0."
The critics have begun to weigh in again now that Spider-Man has finally premiered. Many of them saw a special preview performance last Thursday, while others were at Tuesday's first performance. From what we've found published in the first couple hours since the show ended, the reviews are much better than they were months ago ... but are still a mixed bag on the whole. Here's a sampling:
New York Times
"First seen and deplored by critics several months ago -- when impatient journalists (including me) broke the media embargo for reviews as the show's opening date kept sliding into a misty future -- this singing comic book is no longer the ungodly, indecipherable mess it was in February. It's just a bore."
"Given the limited amount of fix-'er-up time, and the depths of incoherence from which this show had to rise, 2.0 is a remarkable achievement for those who have toiled for coherence and a measure of absolution in this dangerously tangled web."
1.5 stars … "What was an interesting train wreck is now just an ordinary, if uncommonly expensive, one."
3 stars … "The new Spider-Man is more of an overt crowd-pleaser, but its most affecting features reflect the serious, arty aspirations of the original. Composer/lyricists Bono and The Edge have added one campy number, Goblin's "A Freak Like Me," but the most memorable songs offer the same emotional and melodic sweep that distinguishes their work in U2."
"All this tinkering may well result in a "Spider-Man" that is more coherent than Taymor's, but coherent is not the same as exciting. The show has that assembled-by-committee feeling, with one-dimensional characters and a story line that is way too familiar after decades of "Spider-Man" comic books, not to mention three movie versions in the past decade."
"The new Spider-Man is all for fun, a live-on-stage comic book, pure and simple - precisely what the last version wasn't, and what its team, on hiatus for several weeks of rewrites and rehearsals, reimagined. It will by no means assume a spot in the pantheon of great Broadway musicals, but it's now far more than a tortured curiosity."
"This production is lighter and clearer, if thematically less challenging. It may not be the best thing in theater, but it is far from the worst show in Broadway history."
There will surely be many more reviews in the days and weeks to come and we'll pass along any that are noteworthy. Some of our own staff are also planning to see the show in the coming months and will likely write about here on @U2, perhaps in an OTR column or on our blog.
(c) @U2/McGee, 2011.