Leadership

The 38 geek movies of spring, summer, and early fall 2012

Our annual tradition of previewing the geek-centric theatrical movie releases of the year rounds up the 38 sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and generally geek-related flicks that will hit U.S. cinemas between April and September of 2012.

21. The Amazing Spider-Man [trailer]

500 Days of Summer director Marc Webb (seriously) reboots the webslinger to a version more consistent with his comic book origins (read: mechanical webshooters), only with more angst and conspiracy (read: all the weird quasi-canon spy stuff with Peter Parker's parents). The Social Network's Andrew Garfield taps in for Spidey, with Emma Stone in place as Gwen Stacy, the webhead's original girlfriend. Attendance is mandatory.

Release date: July 3 Geekend rating: Full Price 22. Ice Age 4: Continental Drift [trailer]

The same basic Ice Age formula, only this time the Mammoth-Sabretooth-Sloth trio is set adrift on an iceberg to battle prehistoric pirates. More importantly, the proto-squirrel is still chasing its Sisyphean acorn. If you liked the last three, you'll like this one.

Release date: July 13 Geekend rating: TV 23. Ted [NSFW trailer]

Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane directs Mark Wahlberg as a guy whose boyhood wish was for his teddy bear to come to life, but now has to live with that decision as an adult courting Mila Kunis. Imagine if Stepbrothers was somehow horribly crossed with Winnie The Pooh. If you dig MacFarlane's animated work, you'll probably get a mildly shameful kick out of his live-action debut.

Release date: July 13 Geekend rating: TV 24. The Dark Knight Rises [trailer]

The epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan's mature, topical, and challenging take on Batman. This time around, Christian Bale's Dark Knight must face off with Tom Hardy's Bane, the supervillain who broke his spine and nearly destroyed Gotham -- with Anne Hathaway's Catwoman along for the ride. Whereas the last film was a meditation on the post-9/11 anti-terror state, Nolan's endpiece tackles the dark underpinnings of post-financial crisis civil unrest -- only with flying cars and spandex kung-fu fights. Very likely the geek movie of the year, if not the decade. See you there.

Release date: July 20 Geekend rating: Full Price 25. Neighborhood Watch [trailer]

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg penned this send-up of alien invasion films, which sees Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill form a bumbling neighborhood watch group that stumbles on an otherworldly plot to wipe out humankind. The Trayvon Martin case may force the studio to delay the release, but if and when it premieres, expect Attack the Block by way of Superbad.

Release date: July 27 Geekend rating: TV 26. The Bourne Legacy [trailer]

The fourth installment of the Bourne franchise has Jeremy Renner step in for Matt Damon as the brainwashed CIA superspy gone rogue. Edward Norton tries to ride herd on Renner's Bourne 2.0, with Rachel Weisz as the requisite female lead. Awesome stunts are guaranteed, and the cast is so sterling that even a mediocre script will likely deliver.

Release date: Aug. 3 Geekend rating: Matinee 27. Total Recall [trailer]

Colin Farrell stars in and Die Hard 4's Len Wiseman directs a from-the-ground-up remake of the classic Philip K. Dick story of a man whose storebought memories cause him to lose contact with reality, or perhaps finally clue him in to the conspiracy he may have helped create. Unfortunately, they've dumped all the space opera elements that made the 1990 Paul Verhoeven/Schwarzenneger version a quasi-campy classic.

Release date: Aug. 3 Geekend rating: Rental 28. The Odd Life of Timothy Green [trailer]

It's not often you see someone try to remix the old Monkey's Paw premise as a heartwarming family film, but that's Disney for you. (It can't be harder than making an upbeat kid-friendly Hunchback of Notre Dame.) A childless couple bury a box of wishes for a perfect son, only to have a boy apparently spring forth in answer to their prayers -- with some magical baggage, of course.

Release date: Aug. 15 Geekend rating: TV 29. ParaNorman [trailer]

Imagine The Sixth Sense as a knockoff Tim Burton claymation horror-comedy. A nerdy, misunderstood kid who can speak with the dead must somehow save his hometown from a zombie uprising. If you liked Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas, you'll like this.

Release date: Aug. 17 Geekend rating: Rental 30. The Apparition [no trailer yet]

Carter from Gossip Girl (Sebastian Stan), Alice from Twilight (Ashley Greene), and Draco from Harry Potter (Tom Felton) cash in on their emo-teen street cred for a half-hearted ripoff of Flatliners. Three college kids are hunted by a poltergeist they summoned during a college experiment. The absence of a trailer and the fact this film is dumped unpromoted at the end of August are all bad, bad signs.

Release date: Aug. 24 Geekend rating: Never 31. The Possession [no trailer yet]

Kyra Sedgwick and Jeffrey Dean Morgan cash paychecks in this low-budget horror flick about a girl who buys a puzzle box containing an evil spirit. If that sounds like the plot of every third direct-to-video scare film from the 1980s, then your expectations are properly set. Stop me if you've heard this one: The absence of a trailer and the fact this film is dumped unpromoted at the end of August are all bad, bad signs.

Release date: Aug. 31 Geekend rating: Never 32. 7500 [trailer]

Remember that old Twilight Zone episode where William Shatner (or, for you film fans, John Lithgow) saw a demon on the wing of an airplane? What if the demon was a Japanese-horror-style monster, and it was inside the plane? That's 7500, as directed by the guy who gave us The Grudge. More simply, it's Snakes on a Plane meets The Ring. Yikes.

Release date: Aug. 31 Geekend rating: TV 33. Argo [no trailer yet]

Ben Affleck directs and stars in the true story of a group of CIA agents who rescue six Americans held during the Iranian Hostage crisis -- by pretending to film a sci-fi movie in Tehran. Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, and John Goodman anchor a top-to-bottom stellar cast, though whether Affleck has the chops to pull this off is up for debate. It's worth finding out.

Release date: Sept. 14 Geekend rating: Rental 34. Resident Evil: Retribution [trailer]

Five movies in and Milla Jovovich is still waging a plot-free eye-candy global war against the Umbrella Corporation and the mutant zombie plague it unleashed. If you liked the last four, you'll like this one -- though at this point, we're really starting to judge you.

Release date: Sept. 14 Geekend rating: Never 35. Dredd [no trailer yet]

Karl Urban stars in this decidedly less campy adaptation of the classic British comic book antihero future-cop. For those unfamiliar, Dredd is a law enforcer in a post-apocalyptic dystopia where the police are judge, jury, and executioner. This time around, he faces off with Lena Headey as a druglord peddling reality-altering intoxicants. You had me at "there's no Rob Schneider."

Release date: Sept. 21 Geekend rating: Matinee 36. Hotel Transylvania [trailer]

Apparently, Dracula decided to make a little extra scratch running a hotel where classic movie monsters can get relief from the torches and pitchforks crowd. The good news is that animation genius Genndy Tartakovsky is behind the wheel. The bad news is Adam Sandler is voicing the lord of vampires, with Kevin James tagging along as Frankenstein's monster.

Release date: Sept. 21 Geekend rating: TV 37. House at the End of the Street [trailer]

Elisabeth Shue and Jennifer Lawrence are the mother-daughter duo who make the mistake of moving next door to a family where a teenage boy was the sole survivor of his sister's family killing spree. The usual supernatural creepiness ensues. The film's release date was pushed twice, though whether that's a sign of poor quality or just the marketing department's desire to cash in on Lawrence's Hunger Games cachet is unclear. Either way, there's nothing new to see here.

Release date: Sept. 21 Geekend rating: Never 38. Looper [trailer]

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a futuristic mob enforcer who assassinates victims shunted into the past. Unfortunately, his latest target is his future self, played by Bruce Willis. Trippy time paradox chase sequences ensue. Think The Professional by way of Primer and Inception. Could be awesome, could be Timecop.

Release date: Sept. 28 Geekend rating: Matinee

Which movie most whets your appetite, and which films are certain stink-bombs (though the two categories are not mutually exclusive)? Sound off in the comments section.

About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

21 comments
AudeKhatru
AudeKhatru

...and learn the difference between cache and cachet. Cache means to hide (in French) and in English is used to mean a hidden stash. Cachet means approval, or status. Jennifer Lawrence has a certain cachet because of the success of Hunger Games.

Slayer_
Slayer_

They would be much better if the camera guy was the first one shot in each scene, then the camera could tumble to the ground and sit still filming the rest of the fight scene. But instead we get constant shaking and super close ups so bad that we can't be sure there is any action at all.

david.shorr
david.shorr

Can't believe you left out Iron Sky. Come on. Nazis from space... I respectfully disagree with your geek rating for Safety Not Guaranteed - it was one of the best films we saw at this years SXSW. The "new improved" ending has all that a geek could ask for. And its full of quality acting, excellent dialog and good characters. See it in a theatre ASAP!

zyzygy
zyzygy

Nice to see the US on the wrong end of the release schedule for once.

RG Bargy
RG Bargy

What is the Hasbro board game of which you write? I remember when we used to play battleships using squared paper... And as for "Brave" is this another Brit-Bashing fest from Disney (the UK's bestest friend ever (not))??

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

"[i]... but I refuse to sit through someone's attempt to program the audience into laying down to the inevitability of a ruling oligarchy.[/i]" MPAA and RIAA already have power far beyond their value to society. It's strange that Hollywood should keep reminding people of that. Hopefully "Prometheus" will be good.

boomchuck1
boomchuck1

Not sure I understand the one world government comment above, but I loved the first 2 Alien movies. Came out of the theater with a gut ache from being so tense. If this can live up to them (forget about the last 2 Alien movies) then it could be great.

mgladish
mgladish

Great list, thanks! Not coming to the theatres, but premiering on Chiller Network on 4/13/12 is Brian Keene's "Ghoul". Got great reviews. Horror fans should like it. Check it out at: http://www.ghoulthemovie.com/.

sboverie
sboverie

There are a few movies on the list that might be interesting, but the rest sounds like the usual floundering for a good script. The remakes of successful movies has been rarely effective and sequels to good movies also rarely rise to the level of the first movie. There are exceptions but most remakes and sequels lack creativity or perhaps they lack the boldness to take a risk with something that isn't formulaic.

pgit
pgit

quote: "Hollywood had its Golden Age, back when well-written scripts reflected well-developed, multi-faceted characters. Today, Tinseltown is a monolithic, left-liberal automaton, marching in thematic unison and subjecting the viewer to the same impoverished, error-riddled, preachy themes. The evidence is in. Activism and abreaction have replaced acting, and sermons have supplanted stories in the repertoire of the pretty, pea-brained community. A giant digit wagging above a captive audience: that???s Hollywood." http://www.wnd.com/2012/04/the-tarts-and-tards-of-hollywood/

pgit
pgit

Prometheus, no thanks. I'd be noisily pointing out the world government Bilderburg-mandated propaganda and ruin it for everyone. I don't mind being entertained, but I refuse to sit through someone's attempt to program the audience into laying down to the inevitability of a ruling oligarchy. I'm insulted by the likes of Prometheus.

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

The Dark Knight Rises The Amazing Spider-man The Avengers Prometheus What's yours?

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

April to September is what Hollywood calls "summer" -- a definition applied strictly for marketing purposes. April sees films designed to capitalize on the audience impatience for the first weekend of May, a date which semi-officially kicks off "summer" movies. The "season" then runs until Labor Day weekend, which is to say through the end of September, as Hollywood dumps the last of its action-centric popcorn flicks into the ninth month to play out the popcorn-fest marketing momentum set up during actual summer. You'll also see "summer" backloaded with so-so horror films that are being rushed through their theatrical window so they can be released on DVD in time for Halloween. Ironically, October -- the month Halloween is actually in -- kicks of so-called "Award Season," when studios pump out all the Oscar contender dramas late in the year to A) capture folks trapped indoors by cold weather and B) capture the attention of Oscar voters right before the year-end nominating deadline. And if you think Hollywood calendars are weird, you should see their math: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting

judas
judas

Couldn't agree more, Iron Sky looks like a future cult classic and should certainly deserve inclusion on a list of this nature.

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...I don't think the plot ever ventures south of Hadrian's Wall, at least from what is visible from the trailer.

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...the authority figure in all the alien films was the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, a private entity. Part of the viral marketing for Prometheus is a fake TED talk from Mr. Weyland himself. If anything, it paints a picture of soulless business as the eventual tyrant of humankind.

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...but it's only being released in Scandanavia. If/when it gets a US street date, I'll slot it in.

pgit
pgit

look it up

pgit
pgit

Whatever you're talking about your ad hominem is inapplicable both to me and my original point. I happen to know more about what really makes this world tick than most, having had a lot of personal access to the kinds of people that own senators and presidents. There are "powerful outside [enemies]" and they have you (meaning 'all' for the most part) right where they want you. And they routinely "pi$$ on your corpse" as I say, eg most of the "news" you consume is a narrative yet you (the same 'you') believe you are informed. Entertainment tends to be the most transparent golden shower. Like I said, I can handle mindless amusement (a-muse = "not think") but when they attempt to be clever-clever and get "deep" with the agenda I am insulted. I am anything but paranoid. I simply know what I know and there's no convincing you of anything absent your having walked the 18 years in my shoes I spent hobnobbing with the .0001%. GHW Bush and I discussed the use of food as a weapon in 1980. I alerted Al D'Amato to a scathing editorial that ran on the day he was to deliver a speech observers thought would be the end of his career. He followed my advice and the speech was seen as a stroke of genius. He was subsequently reelected. People going in and out of the white house discussing the matter told me the real reason your "powerful outside" >they< pushed for random "drug testing." I could go on. Prometheus, National Treasure, The Da Vinci code and that ilk are horrendously insulting if you know the truths behind that which they appear to "reveal." "Veil," "obfuscate" and "red herring" are more appropriate. Give me Blazing Saddles any day. Comforting delusion? Maybe you are aware of your own? Would be rare...

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...the comforting delusion that everything you don't like about the world is the work of some powerful outside enemy, and that not only are you important enough to thwart, but none of your failures are your fault.