Shouting Into Darkness

It’s Not Easy Being Green (Goblin)

Posted in Comic Books, Kooky Observations by Chris W. on July 19, 2011

Being a New Yorker (or at least someone who lives here and likes to call himself a “New Yorker” because it scores points with chicks out of town) and a comic book geek, there is a lot to get excited about. The Big Apple is home to several pillars of the comic book world, most of them coming from Marvel. Stark Tower is located in Manhattan (don’t believe that hack movie; Iron Man lives in NYC, damnit!) and is home to the Fantastic Four. Matt Murdock has his practice in Hell’s Kitchen, where he also patrols the alleys as Daredevil. And, of course, there is the hero that Marvel and the rest of the world associates most with New York City, a teenager from Queens. Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.

Spider-Man is synonymous with New York City. He came from a suburb in the outer boroughs, swings around famous landmarks, and was the character Marvel chose to represent them when tackling the attacks on 9/11. In Spidey’s 40+ years in our culture, he’s touched every bit of media you could think imaginable, including the subject of the video above: Broadway.

I’m not going to give you a detailed history of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’s” troubles, as I’m sure you’re well familiar with them. Cast changes, skyrocketing budget, shitty reviews, and a few high-profile injuries to stuntmen. People who saw the show in this state say it was an unmitigated disaster, and if it ever saw Opening Night, it probably wouldn’t last long out of the gate.

Theater people, as far as I know, are a superstitious lot. Makes me wonder why the whole cast didn’t just walk and “Spider-Man” would become as feared a name amongst theater actors as “Macbeth.”

But the show went back to the drawing board, retooled, and relaunched. The result still wasn’t a critical darling, but people are going. This being the tourist season and all, they’re probably enjoying a bit of a bump due to all the people who want to see it just to say they were there. While I’m normally a cynical asshole and am quick to point the Finger of Doom at a project that doesn’t immediately take off and soar, I want “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” to be at least a financial success. Can’t really put my finger on “why,” though. I don’t have a personal stake in the production, nor do I know anyone in the show or working for it. Could be the fact that it’s Spider-Man and the comic book fan in me is rallying behind one of my demigods. Could be the fact that the show got beaten up in the press and I feel bad that it’s got such a deep hole to dig out of.

Or it could just be this song.

This is video from last night’s “Late Show with David Letterman.” The number features Patrick Page as the Green Goblin singing “A Freak Like Me Needs Company”, the opening song of the second act and far and away the best song on the soundtrack. Now, your musical and artistic tastes may vary from mine, but I gotta say, the song is awesome and seeing the Green Goblin costume/make-up move with the actor lessens some of the fanboy disgust I had with the design. I love the chorus melody, especially when a dozen people are singing and putting everything into it. “A Freak Like Me” is the big villain song in the show, Green Goblin stating his plan to turn everyone in New York into mutant freaks like him, and it helps when the villain’s manifesto sounds like it has a pair of Spaldings. To me, the whole show is worth it for the three minutes of that song.

Now, before you start commenting, yes I’m aware that there’s a lot about that number that can be criticized, especially from a comic book fan’s perspective. While I’m okay with how the Green Goblin looks (and Carnage for that matter, too), there is absolutely no excuse for what they did to the Lizard. They took the villain that fans will come to fear in the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man movie and turned him into Nega-Barney. The choreography can be a little weak at times, but my expertise does not include being able to critique dance. Besides, I’m listening to the dancers, but my eyes are on Green Goblin, strutting around the stage like an evil marriage of Gene Simmons and a pickle.

I hope to see the show sometime soon and have a full opinion. From what I see now, putting my fandom aside, there are the makings for an okay musical here. The soundtrack has some decent moments (other highlights are “Pull the Trigger”, “DIY World”, and “If the World Should End”), the visuals can be both goofy and really cool, and it carries the same tried-and-true Spider-Man themes that carried three top-grossing movies. Plus, the tickets for a really good seat are still less than the crappiest “Book of Mormon” seat.

For the full song, edited to footage from the Spider-Man films, click below:

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There are no words…

Posted in Kooky Observations by Chris W. on October 6, 2009

I know I might catch some shit for this, but I liked Green Day’s American Idiot album for a few reasons.

1) I’m queer for concept albums/rock operas (which to some could just be shortened to “I’m queer”) and American Idiot is one of the best examples of a modern rock opera.
2) I didn’t care about the band’s history so claims that they “sold out” or “aren’t punk anymore” bounced right off me.
3) The tunes were catchy. The first time that “Holiday” came on the radio, you were bobbing your head to it and if you can’t admit that, you’re only fooling yourself.

What amazed me most about the album was the story: a young man’s search for identity amongst various social groups that reject him. When they announced that a feature film was going to be made, done in the same style as the music videos supporting American Idiot, I was totally sold.

Then, the project quietly fizzled out and morphed into something a bit more sinister: a stage musical. My hopes were still high because American Idiot has been performed in concert by the band and it seemed okay…

…That all changed after this trailer dropped on the Internet like a bomb cluster.

I dare you to take a look at this video and not be thoroughly disgusted. Maybe you have to be a theater freak to really appreciate what they’re doing, but it seems like such a bad idea to have a theater chorus of golden-voiced Idol hopefuls singing songs that could even remotely be classified as “punk.” Remember Pat Boone’s heavy metal album?

Also, the strength of the music videos was that they had a stripped down, almost haphazard style that complimented the music. This looks a lot like… a musical. If the sound on the video wasn’t on, you could probably confuse it for Rent or even Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This trailer needs to be waaaayyyyy off the mark for the show to be any type of a faithful interpretation of the music.

Then again, I could just be hating. This is only two minutes of what must be a 90-minute show. Maybe when the real show hits the stage, it’ll have that special bland of anarchism and humor that music requires. But if this trailer is any indication of what’s to come, you might be better off staying home and recreating events from “Longview.”

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