I saw Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol yesterday with my brothers. All three of us liked it a lot. Every frame -- particularly those with Tom Cruise -- indicated that the thing cost a king's ransom to make, but those dollars were put to great use. This thing was a masterpiece of spectacle for its own sake.
It was fascinating to note how prominently the star figured in the credits, more than just for his role: After the words "A Bad Robot Production" appeared on the screen, the words "Bad Robot" faded out and were replaced with "Tom Cruise". This makes it seem almost like a king's ransom worth of a vanity project, a monument to Tom Cruise's own glory; but that doesn't diminish the movie's virtues.
Before I present the titular analogy, it's worth noting that the director, whom I credit most for turning money into beauty here, had never done a live action film before. Brad Bird was an acknowledged master of animation, having done the sublime The Iron Giant and some Pixar films like The Incredibles. How the producers came to trust him with such a mammoth project as a live-action debut is beyond me. As my brother pointed out, Bird has an illustrious precedent: apparently Michelangelo had done almost no painting prior to the Sistine Chapel, despite having made a name in sculpture.
In conclusion: Ghost Protocol is a modern-day Sistine Chapel, with the religious iconography replaced by car crashes and ludicrous nonsense.