2012 promises to be an exceptional year when it comes to sci-fi, fantasy and horror film releases. These are the top twelve picks (being that it’s 2012 “gulp!”) plus some promising runner-ups. Let’s hope these films live up to the hype.
12. Rise of the Guardians
This animated holiday offering by DreamWorkshas a fun premise; mythical characters like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost join forces to save the world from the evil Boogeyman. Release Date: November 21.
11. Wrath of the Titans
A sequel to the surprisingly good Clash of the Titans remake. Just based on the trailer, expect more heroics, monsters, angry gods, and giant cyclops, oh my! Release Date: March 30.
10. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
It’s astonishing but the placid trailer didn’t really capture the public’s eye except hardcore Tolkien fans. Lots of talking heads and makeup. But being this is Peter Jackson’s follow up to his epic Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s sure to stand up to his previous Middle Earth saga. Release Date: December 14.
Another one of the found-footage films; this is about a trio of young men who acquire super powers. The fun they have soon gives way to dread as one of the friends lets the power get to his head. Release Date: February 3.
8. World War Z
This adaptation of Max Brooks’ zombie epic would’ve scored higher on the anticipation scale but the word that it will be a PG-13 film and changes from the novel brought about some caution. (The book is told from the point of view of many people across the world. This film seems to be more linear with Brad Pitt in the lead role.) Release Date: December 21.
7. The Cabin in the Woods
This Joss Whedon-produced film was finished a while ago but sat on the shelf until this year. Promising to turn on its ear the cliché of a remote cabin found by a some young people, the buzz surrounding this film has begun to percolate due to Whedon’s genre clout (i.e. Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly). Release Date: April 13.
6. John Carter
The trailers keep looking better and better, capturing the fantastic swashbuckling feel of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars. Directed by Andrew Stanton (who won Oscars for Pixar’s masterpieces WALL-E and Finding Nemo) the film about a Civil War vet’s adventures on the planet Mars could continue the trend of notable animators making successful transitions into live-action filmmakers (see Brad Bird with his Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol). Release Date: March 9.
5. The Amazing Spider-Man
It’s pretty obvious that Sony is cranking this too-soon reboot to hold on to the lucrative franchise but it looks very promising. Andrew Garfield has an eerie resemblance to Peter Parker, Spider-Man’s mechanical web shooters, the evident back to basics approach and Marc Webb’s distinct visual style makes this film one to keep an eye on. It could be this year’s version of X-Men: First Class. Release Date: July 3.
Alonso Cuaron who directed the best sci-fi movie of the last decade (Children of Men) as well as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban helms this film about two astronauts (George Clooney and Sandra Bullock) trapped onboard a damaged space station and their efforts to return to Earth. Release Date: November 21.
3. The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan concludes his acclaimed Batman trilogy with the Caped Crusader’s greatest struggle in a Gotham that has shunned him. Meanwhile Batman’s absence leads to the rise of one of his deadliest villains, Bane and sexiest, Catwoman. Given the runaway success of The Dark Knight, this film is certain to be a monster hit. BTW, Robin (supposedly played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is rumored to make his debut in the film. Release Date: July 20.
2. The Avengers
Any fan boy’s (or girl’s) dream come true. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk team up and portrayed by the actors originating the roles (except for the Hulk). Add in other characters like Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Nick Fury and that’s a recipe for a blockbuster. While not as dark and serious like The Dark Knight Rises (just wish Marvel Studios would stop with the too-loud rock music in their trailers!), this Joss Whedon super hero mash up could be the big one for the summer. Release Date: May 4.
And the most anticipated film to be released in 2012 is (insert drumroll sound effect)….
Ridley Scott returns to science fiction in a big way with this prequel to Alien. Actually while it takes place in the same universe the ugly xenomorphs are nowhere to be found in this film. Not much is known about the plot outside of hints that it deals with astronauts trying to learn humanity’s roots and encountering the alien space jockey’s race (that creature was seen as fossilized remains in the original Alien). Once the official trailer was released, the film’s buzz level reached fever pitch. Release Date: June 8.
Others To Look Out For:
Looper (a time- travel actioner with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt); Men In Black III (Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as Earth’s best illegal alien hunters with a time-traveling twist); The Hunger Games (based on Suzanne Collins’ novel about young people surviving deadly combat games in a brutal post-U.S.); Cloud Atlas (The Wachowski Brothers return with this centuries-spanning story with an all-star cast; significant segments of the film take place in the future); Battleship (big, splashy alien invasion tale with plenty of action, effects and military hardware, thankfully Michael Bay isn’t directing this one); Iron Sky (a zany premise involving Nazis escaping to the moon’s dark side and returning to Earth a few years from now); Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (hey if the trailer has the balls to show Ghost Rider peeing fire, then the film deserves to be checked out!), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (adapted from the best-selling novel); Brave (Pixar’s newest film about a heroic Scottish girl in ancient times); Skyfall (the next James Bond film is directed by Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig returns as the grittiest Bond); and The Divide (Michael Biehn stars in this claustrophobic apocalyptic thriller).
Remember all release dates are subject to change and add in a few other films (notably Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli’s delayed Area 51 that could debut anytime) that were left off or without official 2012 release dates but may impact geekdom in a huge way.
UPDATE: Both World War Z and Gravity have been pushed to 2013. With Gravity’s case, this was due to some reported mixed reactions to a test screening.