Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Spidey's Last Stand

I've always loved Spiderman. Such an iconic character: as Peter Parker, he was the first superhero with an ordinary kid's problems. And he had a whip-smart sense of humor when he put on the red-and-blue. And let's not forget that the Ramones did a kick-ass version of the 70s Spiderman cartoon theme song! So I felt shame that I didn't get out and see the latest installment of the film series right away. One thing piled on top of the next and soon three months had past without having seen our friendly neighborhood web-head.

Salvation from my spider-exile came in an unlikely form - Delta Airlines Flight 35, service from Johannesburg to Atlanta. The first leg of the red-eye flight was made hellacious by two frat-boyish dumbasses, drinking themselves into a stupor with the help of a slutty flight attendant. Their loud, banal chatter penetrated even my industrial-strength earplugs. Finally I tapped one of them on the shoulder and told him, "that's enough now, I can hear your bullshit through my earplugs. Quiet down."

It worked, but only very briefly. They quickly redoubled their idiotic revelry, and now they had me as a target to mock. Quick thinking on my part! I had no one to appeal to, as the stewardess was making doe-eyes at the two of them and pouring them more drinks, when she bothered to come by at all. I decided that forcing them to pick up their teeth with broken fingers would get me into more trouble than I deserved. A shame, really. So I just had to deal.

Needless to say, my adrenaline was pumping and I was too pissed to sleep by this point. So imagine my surprise and relief when I saw the opening credits to Spiderman 3 began to roll, just as the drunken a-holes were nodding off. I had never watched closely, let alone enjoyed, a movie on an airplane so much as Spiderman 3. Of course, maybe my critical faculties had been dulled beyond reckoning by sleep deprivation and the witless chatter of those two primates. I may well have enjoyed Bio-Dome with Pauly Shore on that flight.

Spiderman 3, like its predecessors, cleaved closely to the source material. Perhaps too much so: the storyline of this third installment is loose and episodic, and at times a bit uneven. But it played well as a comic book slice of Spidey's life in New York City. The pain, conflict, and hilarious awkwardness are here in all their glorious splendor in this movie. A soaper! I must admit I got misty and choked up more than once. Then again, it may have been the dry airplane air.

Oh, and the two jackasses? They staggered off the plane, so hungover I don't think they remembered who I was.

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