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Family | Review

Spider-Man Show Has Some Bugs to Work Out

July 04, 2002|ROBERT NILES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The summer's most popular movie character, Spider-Man, is packing in crowds at Universal Studios Hollywood. Unfortunately, the park's "Spider-Man Rocks!" show doesn't come close to providing the thrills, drama or entertainment of the hit Sam Raimi film.

Universal bills this as "an explosive rock 'n' roll stunt show." But the stunts aren't as entertaining as the park's old western show, nor are the effects as impressive as those at Universal's ongoing "Water World" spectacular. But it's the rock 'n' roll aspect that is the most laughable.

Spider-Man aficionados hoping for a live show as engaging as the movie certainly will leave disappointed, as will theme park visitors hoping for an experience as breathtaking as Universal's acclaimed "Spider-Man" ride in Orlando, Fla.

Clumsy writing and sophomoric music choices detract from the appealing tale of Peter Parker and his secret life as a superhero. Watching Spidey rescue Mary Jane to the tune of "Holding Out for a Hero" induced a few winces in the crowd during a recent standing-room-only show. Scoring the climactic battle between Spider-Man and his nemesis, the Green Goblin, to Queen's moldy anthem "Another One Bites the Dust" didn't help either.

Licensing issues dictated that the Green Goblin in this production is the old-school model from the Marvel comic books, not the high-tech one from the recent film. Too bad. The movie Goblin, along with selections from Danny Elfman's score, could have made this show into something far more interesting.

At least the talented six-person cast works hard to salvage some entertainment value, but the performers' tireless efforts cannot rescue this production. This musical was designed for the type of undemanding music fans who eagerly await the Wango Tango concert each summer.

Of course, it is somehow appropriate for a superhero who can never win to be stuck in a theme park revue featuring music from "Footloose" at the moment of his greatest popularity.

*

"Spider-Man Rocks!," daily at Universal Studios Hollywood, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. For information and ticket prices, (800) UNIVERS.

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