"Queens of the Stone Age" was a question on Jeopardy tonight.

Today I watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. We underestimated the demand for this movie last night (crowds are the reason I rarely see movies on opening night), so we got tickets for the first show this morning. I was afraid there were going to be screaming children but it worked out fine. I was actually more annoyed by the adult “squee” (as Marlo would say) fans who were to my left. Every time something would happen or a new character would appear on the screen there would be gasps. The movie itself is pretty good. I wouldn’t say it was the best, having had a few hours now to digest it. I still think Azkaban is the best. I’ll add some spoilers in the next paragraph. Chamber of Secrets is actually on in 6 minutes and I’ll watch it while I draw. I am really looking forward to King Kong. I am even more looking forward to Deep Sea 3D, which is a 3D imax pic that comes out next Spring. I saw the trailer in 3D and it looked amazing. We saw a bunch of trailers in front of Goblet of Fire but none of them really interested me (they didn’t show much of Superman), especially not the hiphop-dancing CG penguins.

One thing I’ve noticed about Harry Potter movies (books as well I assume) is that there’s all this stuff that happens, but quite often you don’t know what or why until the very end of the film, and the payoff usually isn’t that great. I would have liked to have seen what the villains were doing behind the scenes. I don’t need all the mysteries handed to me, by any means, but you seem to experience everything through Harry’s eyes and sometimes that can be frustrating. Maybe it’s different in the books. This is exacerbated by the fact that magic is everywhere and basically can negate reality and common sense, so that quite literally anything could be going on despite your best guesses given the clues. Sorcery is the ultimate deus ex machina.

Oddly, in Goblet of Fire, the parts I was most looking forward to were the least interesting, and the bits that sounded the least interesting before seeing the film were in fact the most interesting. For example: you would think a duel with a dragon would make a great transition to the screen, but it was a dull, predictable, and senseless display*. On the other hand, everything leading up to and including the ball was well-done and entertaining, and really gave something (finally) to the characters to display emotion towards that wasn’t Ron making a scared face and whimpering.

*Plus it bugs me how great fierce monsters that look like they’d strike like lightning with millenia-tested predatory instincts are always portrayed as bumbling and ineffectual. They always take forever to size up their opponents and can’t hit the broad side of a barn when they do lash out. Put a mouse in a basket with a snake, or a cricket in a terrarium with a frog, and the prey would be in the predator’s mouth in seconds. Put Harry Potter in a ring with a dragon and he dodges blow after blow and hides in a crevice as the dragon tries to figure out what the hell it’s doing. Yes I know it had a chain on it – but still. If Harry had outsmarted it, that would be one thing, but defeating it with speed and reaction, that just makes this supposedly nasty and terrible dragon look like a pussy.