I saw two movies over my Christmas holiday: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. I liked both and recommend them. I also wanted to see Tintin, Hugo, and Sherlock Holmes but will probably have to wait to see them on DVD.

I’m not a giant fan of the Swedish versions of TGwtDT. The cast is good but they suffered, for me, by not living up to the books. Ultimately any adaptation risks this and it’s sort of unfair to judge a film this way, but that’s how it is. Some, like Lord of the Rings, end up matching my internal pictures of the books and even exceeding them in their scale and splendor. The Harry Potter movies dropped the ball on a few scenes for me (Harry’s Patronus at the lake in Azkaban, the return of Voldemoort in Goblet of Fire, the final battle and showdown with Voldemoort in Deathly Hallows) but made up for that in the overall spirit of the films and the pitch perfect casting from top to bottom. With TGwtDT David Fincher deletes some subplots, changes some scenes, and smooths over some of the problems with Stieg Larsson’s story in what I think are very wise ways. I think freed from the need to hew too closely to the book Fincher let Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara explore the odd mystery and odd characters in Larrson’s book much better than the closer Swedish rendition.

Mission Impossible 4 is just fun. Great stunts, cool spy stuff, far-fetched gadgets that I have no problem pretending exist for a few hours. As odd a guy as Tom Cruise is, I never had trouble looking past that in his better roles, and he’s been in a lot of movies I really like (A Few Good Men, Eyes Wide Shut, Minority Report to name just a few). The real draw for me here, and really the only reason I went to see this instead of Tintin, is director Brad Bird. (Meaning he beat out Stephen Spielberg working from a Steven Moffat script!) I love The Incredibles and was very curious to see what Bird would do with live action. The MI movies have all been kind of neat in that each has a different, fairly distinctive director (Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams, and now Brad Bird–though maybe Bird isn’t so different from Abrams). Bird brings the crazy stunts that we’ve come to expect from Tom Cruise’s idea of a Mission Impossible movie but also provides lots of levity and a light feeling that doesn’t get weighed down in trying to take itself too seriously. It made me want to rewatch the other movies, even the second one if just to see if it’s really as terrible as I remember it with John Woo’s over-directing and slow motion and doves.