Everybody Has Seen Spider-Man. So Why Shouldn't I?

The key aerial sequence–the Act I climax, a high-altitude fight between Spidey and the Green Goblin, conducted at high speeds while zooming over the audience–is pulse-quickening and spectacular, in every sense of the word. (Daniel Ezralow did both the athletic choreography and the innovative aerial choreography.)

The visual design is amazing. George Tsypin’s lush, skewed-perspective sets; Don Holder’s moody and expressive lighting; and Eiko Ishioka’s wittily outrageous costumes allow Ms. Taymor to create strikingly beautiful stage pictures.

The endearing Jennifer Damiano is both forceful and winsome as Mary Jane; T.V. Carpio, who recently replaced Natalie Mendoza as Arachne, Ms. Taymor’s ur-spider, sings nicely but is less charismatic than you’d expect from a mystical temptress; Matthew James Thomas, who played Peter/Spidey at the performance I saw in place of star Reeve Carney, is handsome, charming, and sings passionately; Patrick Page makes the Green Goblin bug-eyed and possessed.

But Bono and the Edge’s songs are surprisingly bland, a largely undifferentiated pop-rock collection with some propulsive guitar riffs but generally uninteresting, repetitive lyrics. Last week, having returned from a U2 tour, the musicians finally saw the show and may
be working on new songs.

And the book, by Ms. Taymor and Glen Berger, is, as you’ve no doubt heard, overwrought, muddled and often incoherent. They are reportedly working on that, too.

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is, right now, a pleasant evening of entertainment. But this epic story of Peter Parker’s transformation is not yet a similarly transporting experience. Everyone–even Bill de Blasio!–keeps reminding us that it’s a work still in progress. Perhaps it will yet come to terms with its own destiny.

I’m looking forward to seeing whether it does. If they’ll still have me.