The Conversation: What's the Movie to See This Christmas, 'Ghost Protocol' or 'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'?

The Conversation: What's the Movie to See This Christmas, 'Ghost Protocol' or 'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'?

Dec 16, 2011

Remember how Thanksgiving this year provided mostly postively reviewed tentpoles? Well, if you enjoyed the quality of The MuppetsHugo and Arthur Christmas, now get ready for a great crop of Hollywood releases for your Christmas holiday moviegoing. As I write this, I see that both Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo have a high Rotten Tomatoes score of 94%. Not bad for blockbusters, and then there's Steven Spielberg's motion-capture animated action flick, The Adventures of Tintin, which is currently at a decent 82%. Even Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is presently fresh on the tomatometer. 

Considering the more adult-geared award-targeting dramas like Albert NobbsWe Bought a Zoo, CarnageThe Iron Lady and Spielberg's War Horse are all rating relatively lower, it might not be so hard to convince the family to go big and explosive this year. Unless Dad really wants to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Just be sure to avoid The Sitter and Chipwrecked

I've decided to look at the most interesting review comments on both Ghost Protocol (aka "Ghotocol") and Dragon Tattoo, because they've got the best reviews so far and I'm guessing will be fighting for the most money over the long holiday weekend. The Mission: Impossible sequel has more reviews than the Girl adaptation so there's more blurbs. They're also a lot more excited positive reviews than the latter's. 

 

What are people saying about Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol? Here's The Conversation heard around the Internet: 

This is an evolved, modern action movie that feels like it belongs in the '80s, and I give it credit for switching up its ongoing premise enough that it felt fresh and familiar. This isn't a movie about Ethan Hunt and his team winning; it's a movie about them losing. And what happens when they lose. How do they regroup? What's their Plan B? Is there a Plan B? Ghost Protocol may have been better suited stuck in the middle of a more refined trilogy, Empire Strikes Back-like, but that just isn't the case. Plus this franchise isn't that kind of franchise. It's not a thinker, it's a brawler that sometimes disguises itself as a thinker -- giving us just enough "movie smarts" to go with its kicking, punching, gun-shot wounds, and car accidents. - Erik Davis, Movies.com

What makes M:I4 so special and almost unique in the annals of kick-ass action is how up-close and personal it is. Director Brad Bird, making an astonishingly confident and distinctive leap from animation (Ratatouille, The Incredibles) to live action, keeps our attention on the small scale, on the human scale. When the Kremlin blows up -- a criminal action to cover a terrorist theft, with the blame on the IMF -- just as Ethan Hunt (Cruise: Knight and Day, Valkyrie) is skipping out after an espionage infiltration, Bird keeps the focus on Hunt, caught in the ripple of explosions and clouds of dust and smoke [...] Bird shows us all his action setpieces not from the outside, saying “Isn’t this an awesome thing to see?!” but from the inside, saying, “Isn’t this an awful thing to be caught up in?” - MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Filosopher

When Ethan ziplines off a building onto a truck and then rolls hard onto the street, Mr. Bird — while borrowing more than a little from the “Roadrunner” cartoons — also makes you aware of the fragility of the body ricocheting on screen, absorbing every blow for your entertainment. And when Mr. Cruise hangs off the even taller building, what you see isn’t just a man doing a crazy stunt but also one poignantly denying his own mortality. - Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

The director’s background in animation matches the material perfectly, from a high-tech hallway cloaking device that calls to mind Bugs Bunny painting a fake train tunnel on a wall to the tangibility of the computer-generated effects here. The CG fakery of movies like “Hugo” and “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” lacks a certain gravity, but when a car plummets to earth two feet behind Ethan, I jumped back in my seat. - Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

For a moment it seems Ghost Protocol might have run a little too fast , like Wile E. Coyote running in thin air over the cliff edge before dropping like a stone. But it all ends nicely, with both a dynamite fight scene in a high-tech parking garage and a thoughtful finale that leaves the door open for Ethan Hunt's next adventure. - Katey Rich, Cinema Blend

Hunt’s ultimate showdown with Cobalt echoes that of Goldfinger, and while it would appear counterproductive for this franchise to fashion itself after another spy series, it happens to be modeling itself on Bond adventures the likes of which aren’t really made anymore. Just as newly gritty heroes seem to have run their course (fingers crossed), Cruise and Bird are doing their damnedest to maintain the escapist thrills that we as audiences will always choose to accept. - William Goss, Film.com

Mission: Impossible 4 continues that theme and tone—the Ian Fleming gadgets and John le Carre globe-trotting—and combines them with a weary, workplace sense of humor that wouldn't be out of place on The Office. That is, if Michael Scott and his co-workers were a) good at their jobs and b) if their jobs involved shooting people. - James Rocchi, Box Office Magazine

It's taken 15 years and 4 films, but the Mission: Impossible series has finally reached its pinnacle, a perfect film version of the classic series—the team aspect is very important here, something else this film does far better than it predecessors—and a near spotless actioner that keeps its audience riveted. - Jeremy Kirk, First Showing

Brad Bird has made not only the best Mission: Impossible, but one of the best action movies of the past several years. - Matt Goldberg, Collider

I think "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" is the most consistently entertaining, most laser-focused entry in the series so far, and while I would argue that it is very much a sequel to the third film and not just a disconnected piece of a flexible franchise, it is also a great rollicking self-contained spy movie adventure on a grand scale, and it's preposterous fun. - Drew McWeeny, Motion [Captured]

 

What are people saying about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? Here's The Conversation heard around the Internet: 

Fincher teases out the full mythological grandeur of the material. He's not just a great director — he's an artist with the eyes of a voyeur, and he has made The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo into an electrifying movie by turning the audience into addicts of the forbidden, looking for the sick and twisted things we can't see. - Owen Glieberman, Entertainment Weekly

Adapting the story with his usual flair for the dramatic and dark, David Fincher draws out themes and ideas that were barely present in the novel, creating a film that's less about the lugubrious story than the fascinating characters who inhabit it. It's a vast improvement on the source material, a brooding and gripping mystery that's captivating even if you know exactly how the story turns out. - Katey Rich, Cinema Blend

Purely judged on its technical merits, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" is sensational, another example of just how much control Fincher is capable of exerting over every element of his films.  It is gorgeous, and I feel like you could pull almost any frame of the film out as a stand-alone work of art thanks to the contributions of cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth [...] But if you're going to this for Fincher, be aware that the strongest hint you'll see of his voice is the opening title sequence.  I wish I saw something more here.  I wish I could just bask in the undeniably burnished glow of Fincher's filmmaking. - Drew McWeeny, Motion [Captured]

In a remarkable way, Fincher synthesizes the best of both of his two previous serial killer movies, “Seven” and "Zodiac,” but combines them with a maturity that shouldn’t be mistaken for boredom with the material. [...] But did Fincher need to make the film? Probably not. It feels like a lesser work in his canon, even as his pedigree gets sharper and more refined with each film he directs. But like “The Departed,” it feels like a concession to an audience that a filmmaker needs not appeal to, either critically or commercially. Or at worst, 'Tattoo' seems like a distraction from projects which consume him and drive him to more singular feats of artistic accomplishment. - Todd Gilchrist, The Playlist

On the whole however, it is good fun – if, at 158-minutes, a tad excessive – and seeing Fincher back in the thriller genre is nary a bad thing, even if one can’t help but feel his skills could be put to better use elsewhere. David Fincher’s first-rate direction effortlessly wipes the floor with the soporific Swedish counterpart. - Shaun Munro, What Culture!

Fincher can nail this kind of material in his sleep, and yet, it feels almost like he’s on autopilot for a lot of it. There just isn’t much dramatic weight to the film, despite being so damn well made. At the end of the day, that’s what it really is, a highly entertaining genre film from a master craftsman that leaves us wanting something with a little more narrative impact. - Kevin Ketchum, Next Projection

 

Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to join The Conversation.

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