Action Movies in December

So hit Mission:Impossible – Ghost Protocol last night. It’s only out on IMAX right now, but since it was made for IMAX I was willing to put up with the lines and go opening weekend.

To dispense with the reviews, the film is excellent. Not that it’s about to win any Academy Awards or anything, but it was the singular best time I had at the movies this year. Brad Bird of Pixar fame dazzled; he reminds me a lot of one of my favorites behind the camera, Alfonso Curaron, the way he uses less cuts and more tracking shots to further engage you in the action and always giving you something to look at.

Tom Cruise, Scientology weirdness aside, has always been one of my on-screen favorites as well. Cruise displayed every bit of his acting chops, charisma and talent for death-defying stunts. The action was taut, non-stop and amazing on screen.

Anyway, there always tends to be a lot of Academy Award-type films of social significance in December, and a studio always seems to feel the need to counter-program with an action movie or romantic comedy, and this year’s is M:I. Given the deficiency in good summer films the last couple of years, you have to wonder at this strategy.

Most studios are pushing smaller films for the gold statues right about now. To me, the only reason to push out a budget-busting action film at this point of the year is to detract attention from the films of social significance. Maybe this says something about Paramount’s Academy Award prospects for the year?

The unusual release strategy of M:I-GP also points to that. The vast majority of these Academy Award films are smaller budgets that certainly don’t include IMAX cameras. Therefore M:I got the chance to claim the higher-priced IMAX theaters, garner amazingly positive reviews and up their overall take even before pushing into the regular 35MM theaters.

If this works, we’ll start seeing movies the likes of Spider-Man, the Marvel-verse or others taking away attention from these smaller films come December, and then legitimate competition between the two. Be interesting to see how this all plays out.