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The first 25 geek movies of 2012

Continuing our annual tradition of previewing the geek-centric theatrical movie releases for the coming year, we offer up the first 25 sci-fi, fantasy and horror flicks that will hit U.S. cinemas in the first quarter of 2012.

Movies are rated on the following scale, in descending order of desirability: Full Price, Matinee, Rental, Cable or Never.

  1. The Devil Inside [trailer]

    The demonic possession subgenre of horror gets the found-footage/fake documentary treatment, because we needed someone to rip off The Exorcist and The Blair Witch Project simultaneously.

    Release date: Jan. 6 Geekend rating: Cable
  2. The Divide [trailer]

    Nine survivors of a nuclear attack hide out in a bomb shelter beneath a New York tenement, and slowly go all Lifeboat + Lord of the Flies crazy. Terminator's Michael Biehn headlines the creepy, depressing cast.

    Release date: Jan. 13 Geekend rating: Rental
  3. Richard Garriott: Man on a Mission [trailer]

    Documentary about video game pioneer Richard "Lord British" Garriott using the fortune he earned from inventing Ultima (and, by extension, MMOs) to buy a spot on a Russian spaceflight.

    Release date: Jan. 13 Geekend rating: Rental
  4. Underworld: Awakening [trailer]

    The "any excuse to put Kate Beckinsale in leather pants" vampires vs. werewolves action series coughs up another eye-candy sequel. This time both monster clans team up to kill humanity.

    Release date: Jan. 20 Geekend rating: Cable
  5. The Wicker Tree [trailer]

    Quasi-sequel to the original 1973 Wicker Man film about murderous Scottish pagans, rather than the abominable, bee-infested 2006 Nicholas Cage remake. Looks trippy, and includes Christopher Lee, which ain't all bad.

    Release date: Jan. 27 Geekend rating: Cable
  6. The Woman in Black [trailer]

    Daniel "Harry Potter" Radcliffe teams up with Hammer Films (yes, that Hammer Films) to play a lawyer turned ghost hunter investigating mysterious child murders in a remote British village.

    Release date: Feb. 3 Geekend rating: Cable
  7. Chronicle [trailer]

    Three Seattle high school boys get super powers, and then do exactly the sort of things you'd expect high school boys would do with super powers. So, yeah, it's a horror film.

    Release date: Feb. 3 Geekend rating: Rental
  8. The Innkeepers [trailer]

    Classic idiot horror-victim characters make the mistake of trying to prevent a haunted New England hotel from closing -- by proving it's haunted. Cue the stupid creepy.

    Release date: Feb. 3 Geekend rating: Never
  9. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island [trailer]

    Sequel to the horrendous 2008 3-D remake of Journey to the Center of the Earth. Brendan "I made The Mummy 3" Fraser refused to return as the lead, so they replaced him with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. How much more warning do you need?

    Release date: Feb. 10 Geekend rating: Never
  10. Perfect Sense [trailer]

    Artsy chick-flick with a sci-fi premise: A chef (Ewan McGregor) and a research biologist (Eva Green) fall in love amidst an epidemic that robs victims of sensory perception. There could be worse date movies.

    Release date: Feb. 10 Geekend rating: Cable
  11. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D [trailer]

    My ability to circumlocute the profanity filter only goes so far, so I'll say only that if you're looking for a reason to punish yourself, I suppose enduring Jar Jar in three dimensions would qualify as adequate self-flagellation.

    Release date: Feb. 10 Geekend rating: Never
  12. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance [trailer]

    Sequel to the aggressively stupid 2007 big screen-ification of the titular Marvel Comics superhero. Nicolas Cage returns in the lead, only this time he's fighting a version of Satan played by Ciaran Hinds, rather than Peter Fonda, which pretty well telegraphs the quality arc of the franchise.

    Release date: Feb. 17 Geekend rating: Never
  13. The Secret World of Arrietty [trailer]

    Anime genius Hayao Miyazaki's 2010 adaptation of the classic Mary Norton children's novel The Borrowers finally hits U.S. theaters. The story involves a family of four-inch-tall sprites that live in the walls of a country cottage, and the young boy who befriends and defends them. Expect heartwarming beauty, in every sense of the word.

    Release date: Feb. 17 Geekend rating: Matinee
  14. This Means War [trailer]

    Rival CIA agents Chris Pine and Tom Hardy go toe-to-toe over the love of Reese Witherspoon, gadgets and eye candy included. Think Mr. and Mrs. Smith crossed with MAD magazine's Spy vs. Spy, with the same level of subtlety and wit.

    Release date: Feb. 17 Geekend rating: Rental
  15. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters [no trailer yet; here's a promo image]

    The fairy tale characters survived their gingerbread house encounter, have grown up into Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, and now hunt witches as James Bond-style assassins. And yes, this is live-action. And steampunk. And a black comedy.

    Release date: Mar. 2 Geekend rating: We have no idea
  16. The Lorax [trailer]

    The creative team behind Despicable Me brings us a computer-animated adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss book, with Danny DeVito voicing the title character. Yeah, we're excited too.

    Release date: Mar. 2 Geekend rating: Matinee
  17. John Carter [trailer]

    Yes, this. Animation genius Andrew Stanton (WALL-E and Finding Nemo) switches to live action cinema by finally tackling Edgar Rice Burroughs's Barsoom series about a Confederate officer transported to a dying Martian civilization in the midst of its own Civil War. Oh, and uber-nerd Pulitzer-winning novelist Michael Chabon pitched in on the screenplay. Attendance is mandatory.

    Release date: Mar. 9 Geekend rating: Full Price
  18. The Raven [trailer]

    John Cusack plays Edgar Allen Poe as the author tracks down a serial killer inspired by his writings. Oh, and it's directed by James McTeigue, the same guy who made V for Vendetta and Ninja Assassin so subtle and enduring.

    Release date: Mar. 9 Geekend rating: Never
  19. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen [trailer] Ewan McGregor in (yet another) quasi-science date flick about a biologist goaded into introducing salmon to the limited freshwater reserves of Yemen, who then falls in love with Emily Blunt. This really should have been out around Feb. 14. Release date: Mar. 9 Geekend rating: Cable
  20. Silent House [trailer] Remake of an infamous single-take (as in, there are no cuts; it's shot like a stage play from a single point of view) South American horror film. The new one stars Elizabeth Olsen as a woman trapped inside a haunted lakehouse, and it uses the same trippy filming technique, so it should at least look interesting. Release date: Mar. 9 Geekend rating: Cable
  21. Mirror Mirror [trailer]

    Yet another overwrought live action remake of Snow White, this time featuring Lily Collins in the lead, Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen, and a host of stunt-casted celebs in supporting roles. Luckily, the guy who made the 300 knockoff Immortals an insufferable visual assault is directing, so this may circle back from "merely awful" to "gleeful trainwreck."

    Release date: Mar. 16 Geekend rating: Cable
  22. The Hunger Games [trailer]

    Jennifer Lawrence headlines the highly anticipated (and controversially whitewashed) adaptation of Suzanne Collins's blockbuster novel of the same name. The book was a surprisingly solid take on The Running Man tweaked for the Twilight generation. Hopefully Hollywood won't emphasize the latter at the expense of the former.

    Release date: Mar. 23 Geekend rating: Full Price
  23. A Thousand Words [trailer]

    The team that brought you Meet Dave and Norbit somehow get more funding to showcase Eddie Murphy as a man who can only speak 1,000 more words before he dies. Sort of like Murphy's actual career.

    Release date: Mar. 23 Geekend rating: Never
  24. Wrath of the Titans [trailer]

    Sequel to the inane but well cast 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans. Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, and Ralph Fiennes return as Perseus, Zeus, and Hades, respectively, with yet more video-game-style smackdowns between man and mythological monster. If you liked the last one you'll like this one.

    Release date: Mar. 30 Geekend rating: Rental
  25. Pirates! - Band of Misfits [trailer]

    The studio behind Wallace & Gromit bring us a claymation version of Gideon Defoe's cleverly fun The Pirates! children's book series. Goofball swashbucklers battle rivals for the Pirate of the Year award, defeating Queen Victoria, and teaming up with Charles Darwin along the way. Because why the frak not?

    Release date: Mar. 30 Geekend rating: Matinee

Disagree with my ratings? Think we missed one? Want to make a prediction about the unexpected bombs and blockbusters in the group? Sound off in the comments.

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...

29 comments
TBone2k
TBone2k

Can't delete my comment.... Never mind.

Vineet369
Vineet369

The list is great and I express my heartiest gratitude for compiling it. But as far as I remember last year tech republic published the list for the complete year of 2011. Was very helpful in keeping tabs on my fav movies! Please do let us know if you are planning for movie lists for the rest of the year! :D

errolty
errolty

Here's to Lisbeth Salander, you may beat her and her mother but she will get even and be your best friend or worst enemy! Secure your electronic devices and information, dream on, Lisbeth will help you or make your life miserable, fast connection or slow. My heroine in Geekland, you Go! Lisbeth. Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a terrible omission Mr Geekdom!, with all due respect! Errol Tyrone Olson

paradisewebdesigntx
paradisewebdesigntx

I am still going to see Phantom Menace. Yell at me, hate me, I do not care, I am going to waste my money. Deal with it :)

bjones
bjones

Oops...you failed to read the intro. This list is only for the movies coming out in the first quarter. The Hobbit is not due out until November.

GSG
GSG

The only one I'd go see is Arriety, and that only because it's a classic story, and Miyazaki is amazing. I typically hate anime, but I decided that I liked his stuff after seeing "Spirited Away" and "Howl's Moving Castle" Edited to Add: I forgot that I'm sort of looking forward to "John Carter" from Edgar Rice Burroughs series. It will either be horribly cheesy and a massive flop, or will be absolutely brilliant.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I wonder how this will stack up to the live action version of "The Borrowers". I recall this was a two-parter with John Goodman as the 'heavy', and possibly from the BBC. In any case, I enjoyed it. I'm a sucker for anything from Aardman. I own only two movies, and 'Chicken Run' is one of them. ('Good, Bad, Ugly' is the other.)

TNT
TNT

This is the second time (that I know of) that you have not given the proper respect to the Underworld movie series. Great films, all of them. "Awakening" will be opening day for sure!

yodi.collins
yodi.collins

And he brought along his ten-year-old female protagonist, as expected. With his name on Arietty I don't expect it to be any less successful than anything else he's put his mind to. The man, IMHO, can do no wrong! Anyone interested in taking their children to see some entertaining family fun should definitely see this movie!

Wood3
Wood3

That is a pretty good overall assessment. I have never heard of that "Hunger Game" book but the trailer looks interesting. The only one I don't agree on is "The Secret World of Arrietty" just because I don't like the look of anime and have never understood the appeal or attraction of anime. That said I still might catch it on cable if the reviews are good and the story sounds interesting.

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

There are really only 3 movie seasons: 1) Pre-Summer Movie Season, which runs from New Year's Day through March. 2) Summer Movie Season, which officially begins the first weekend in May (but has grown to unofficially include April as the build-up for May) and officially ends with Labor Day weekend (but has unofficially grown to include the rest of September). 3) Holiday Movie Season, which begins in October, peaks with Thanksgiving releases and has one last bang for Christmas. Oscar contenders flood the market during Holiday Season (also known as Awards Season) to capture voter attention right before the end of the year, but in time to make an impression before nominations are due in January. It's where all the "serious" films crop up alongside the kid-friendly stuff for family outings during the holidays. Summer is popcorn and eye-candy season, where blockbusters roam free. Towards the end, failed blockbusters that cost millions but stink even by Hollywood standards get dumped, particularly in mid to late August, with the quirky "we don't know how to sell this" stuff popping up post-Labor Day (for parents celebrating the start of school) or pre-May (for weird stuff the studio hopes will catch audiences jonesin' for something to watch before the blockbusters start). Pre-Summer is a bit of an anything-goes season, and usually the weakest, where risky big-budget experiments are tried free of direct summer competition (John Carter is this year's candidate) and a strange glut of horror films appear, both as an antidote to the family-friendly fare of the Holiday Season and to ensure that the subsequent six-months-hence DVD releases hit just in time for Halloween. Pre-Summer is also Date Movie Season, both for Valentines Day and because (Cold Weather) + (Lack of Holidays) = (Great Time to Market Indoor Activities to Couples). Thus, Perfect Sense and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, where even geek movies get the rom-com/chick flick treatment. I also find it interesting, but not encouraging, that Hunger Games was pinned into pre-summer. If it really is the new Twilight, I'd have thought we'd see it in June. It's possible the studio is hoping for a Spring Break breakout, which is not a bad attack plan for teen/tween demographic, but it doesn't bode well for expectations of mass audience appeal. What's your take on the 2012 pre-summer season? Any must-see movies, or are you going to wait this one out until Summer?

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

Release date, availability of trailers, and even MPAA rating have been changed out from under us following our annual roundups in the past. Decided to break this up into Pre-Summer, Summer and Holiday segments to ensure accuracy.

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

The release date in US theaters was Dec. 20. Doesn't really qualify as a Q1 2012 film.

mckinnej
mckinnej

Since filming doesn't finish until March, this movie will be released much later in the year. I'd guess summer at the earliest, but more likely a holiday release. Since the list is for movies being released in the first quarter of the year, the Hobbit doesn't qualify. I'm sure it will show up in a future list.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

It's somewhat difficult to put it into a list of the [u]First[/u] 25 geek movies...

jonathan.smillie
jonathan.smillie

Could the absence of "The Hobbit", not to mention "World War Z", be due to these movies having December 2012 release dates, and this list being for the /first/ 25 geek movies of the year?

JamesRL
JamesRL

The Curse of the Were Rabbit is better than Chicken Run.....

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...but then, I'm an old-school 2nd Edition World of Darkness roleplayer, so I know the source material the franchise cribs from, and they don't do it much justice. I will say Kate Beckinsale is big improvement over Rhona Mitra.

tjsobieski
tjsobieski

you have got to be ......, words fail me

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...but there are some standouts in the genre, notably Akira.

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

Look for the first one on April 6, which will handle Q2 and Q3.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Although I prefer any Wallace & Gromit to Chicken Run.

TNT
TNT

Welcome back, I missed your wit and writing during your hiatus. :-)

JamesRL
JamesRL

I wasn't fond of scotch when I first tried the bad stuff. I was a fan in the 70s of Battle for the Planets and Robotech. I like Akira, and Ghosts in the Shell for some of the older stuff. I started off in Miyazaki with Princess Mononoke, and my kids have seen every Miyazaki since. They will be more excited no doubt than I, I think Spirited Away was one everyone should see, but the subsequent films have been good, but not the same standard.