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.