Monday, August 27, 2012

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark - Costumes Review

Costumes for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Costumes in Spider-Man really ran the gamut from ordinary to truly unique, faithful to the comics to original, serious to laughable.

Notice the air-brush effects
on Spidey
The costumes for the "ordinary" characters (Mary Jane, Aunt May, Uncle Ben, Peter, Flash, etc.) were... ordinary. They spoke to the characters (Peter dressed pretty nerdy, scientist Norman Osborne wears a white lab coat, while Flash and his goons' dress was jock-y and trendy)  but weren't outstanding in any way... which is good, I guess, that they weren't "noticeable" since if the audience noticed them it would most likely be for the wrong reasons.
Now, for the superhuman characters the costumes were anything but ordinary.

First, let's look at Spider-Man. How do you do something original with a costume that has been reimagined at least a hundred times? Well, the production crew managed to keep the most essential elements while making their own marks at the same time. They kept the classic coloring scheme of red and blue (even giving each color a specific meaning as Arachne inspires Peter to choose those colors). The basic outline of the costume is very similar - webs over red boots, red chest and hands, red mask with everything else blue. The colors are a little less bright than in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies. The webs are white instead of black. Spidey's mask is largely unchanged, perhaps closest to Todd McFarlane's wide-eyed Spider-Man. The chest emblem is large and has a red spot on the abdomen of the Spider. But probably the most unique element they added was the air-brushed effects. Notice how there is not a distinct line between the red and blue. Instead, one bleeds into the other gradually. There are even red streaks going down Spider-Man's legs.

While Spider-Man's costume was merely tweaked, the Green Goblin's costume is a radical departure from any version seen before. This Green Goblin mutates his own DNA so this isn't a costume he can take off and put back on - it's a whole new body for him. A variety of bright greens and some yellowish colors cover every inch of the costume from head to toe. It has the feeling of plated armor with many layers overlapping and jutting out. Spikes stick up from his shoulders and forearms. But the face is the best part of the costume - features like the chin, nose, cheeks and forehead are exaggerated, allowing the actor to show emotion even though his entire face is covered. The final result is a creepy looking insect creature that is one part menace and one part clown (he has a number of very funny moments in the show).

As for Hammerhead and the Sinister Six, the results are mixed at best. Hammerhead and his goons are the villains that Spider-Man fights in his public debut so they are shown to be completely black-and-white to highlight the bright focus of Spider-Man streaking across the sky. The depiction is extremely faithful to the comics. Like a lot of the villains, the actor wears a huge, stylized exaggerated head to make them look more like comic book characters.

The Sinister' Six + Green Goblin
(From left to right - Electro, Carnage, Green Goblin, Miss Swiss, Swarm, Kraven, Lizard)
Kraven the Hunter is done in the same manner (oversized head and exaggerated comic book features). His costume is a very faithful translation from the comics and instantly tells you everything you need to know about the character.

Carnage may have had the coolest costume in the show. It's a shame he had such a minor role in the play! His symbiote was expressed visually with red swirls all over his costume and red, curling tendrils coming off his body that swayed when he moved. Creepy eyes and a mouth nearly jumped out of this red outfit.

Electro's costume wasn't much different than his traditional yellow-and-green duds. He sparkled a bit. In his hands he had some spark projectors of some type but the effect is just too pathetically tiny to convey any real threat for Spidey.

Miss Swiss
The Lizard was perhaps the worst costume in the show. It was laughable, really. Essentially, there's a giant blow-up alligator coming out of the midsection of a man standing up. The lizard's lab coat is thrown over the man's head. The end result is this awkward half-man, half-balloon thing that seemed to have two heads.
Swarm (design illustration)

Swarm was, likewise, an awful character design. The entire suit was head-to-toe yellow and black stripes. Randomly, sticks stuck out at all angles with a little bee on the end of it. When Swarm moved, the bees bounced around. But the costume just didn't convey that Swarm is MADE of bees. Perhaps if bees had been all over the costume this would have gotten across. The end result just looked silly. There weren't enough bees to make Swarm look threatening.

Miss Swiss is the only original character for the show. Her design was over the top with lots of spinning and swirling blades. The effect was visually interesting on the stage but you wondered how this person went to the bathroom or blew their nose. The blade and spike on one kneecap shows just how over the top they went with this costume.

Perhaps the best costume of the entire show, however, is Arachne. Arachne undergoes an evolution throughout the show, starting out as a normal human and being transformed into a full fledged spider before our eyes. The mechanical spider arms extend out from behind her and truly move like spider legs. I know I keep raving about Arachne but every aspect of this character was the best Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark had to offer.

But the worst costume of the show wasn't even a costume. It was Bonesaw, as played by an inflatable wrestler controlled by a stage hand dressed in black! That's right - the wrestler that Spider-Man fights isn't a human wearing a costume at all but rather a gigantic blow-up doll! The moment is truly awful, the low point of the show.

So, as you can see, the costumes range for simply ludicrous to ludicrously amazing. But the main characters (Spider-Man, Green Goblin, Arachne) are all done extremely well.

1LR REVIEW - 14 out of 20! It's a Hit!

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