As we grow closer to the end of mankind, it may ease our minds to enjoy a classic cinematic experience, the kind filled with overly-sized theater popcorn, gummy treats for the crevices of our teeth and something icy that will turn our lips blue, before we are completely blown to smithereens. It will be a real bummer if the end of the world comes before the end of the "Twilight" saga, but either way, it couldn't hurt to catch one of these great (superhero-free) movies of the 2012 holiday season first.
Cloud Atlas (October 26, IMAX)
A possible fall season favorite is likely to be Tom Hanks' lengthy cinematic adventure through the ages alongside the camera-friendly Halle Berry. It's been some time since Hanks last classic film the likes of "Cast Away" or "The Green Mile."
The film details the ripple effect of individuals’ actions, centered around the lost souls of Hanks and Berry. Expect to see Tom roughing it burly-bearded-jungle style mixed with a futuristic "Star Wars" looking take on love and soul mates through time. It’s like George of the Jungle meets George Lucas.
Skyfall (November 9, IMAX)
The most iconic agent in all of film, 007, returns with his latest predicament, action scenes and nifty gadgets. Lead by Daniel Craig in his third consecutive appearance as James Bond, the film features some never-before-seen free fall and shoot out sequences that will surely stun the eyes and make you want to jump from tall buildings, expecting to land safely.
The film’s plot follows the past of Judi Dench’s character M, Bond’s quasi-employer of sorts, and will leave him making snap decisions. Expect woman drama and gunfire, dirty martinis, and of course a sexy Bond girl, namely Naomie Harris.
Lincoln (November 16)
The most anticipated character piece welcomes the long-awaited returns of both Daniel Day-Lewis and Steven Spielberg in the true story of Abraham Lincoln in the times of Civil War and slavery.
Lewis is known for his flawless character portrayals and Spielberg has delivered countless movie phenomena, so this feels like a slam dunk. Women will be excited to know that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will also be in this movie, as the son of Lincoln, leaving not many big movies left without him.
The story of the end of honest Abe's life will no doubt give people a glimpse into America's dark past, as well as one of the most tragic deaths of any respected leader of the United States. Anybody who has seen trailers and photos knows that the presentation appears spot on, so expect to be educated while being moved by a truly talented actor.
Killing Them Softly (November 30)
Very softly Brad Pitt is trying to sneak one by us, but we know this movie will be all the rave once people get their eyes on it. The ever-charming Pitt plays a rugged enforcer, alongside some impressive cast mates, such as Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini, crossing somewhere between "Snatch" and "Fight Club," which seems right up any man's alley.
Pitt is featured as the muscle of the film, a seemingly nice, make-things-right kind of guy as long as he isn’t pushed into blazing his sawed-off shotgun. Expect articulate street talk, thick accents and the smell of gun powder, because we have a feeling this one isn’t going to go off too softly by the end.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (December 14, IMAX)
This film doesn't really need to be on the list, since it's a given that you will see it eventually, if not immediately. Based on one of the best-selling fictions of all time, Peter Jackson and basically the entire "The Lord of the Rings" cast are out on adventure to steal your gold again.
The story follows the life of Bilbo Baggins most closely, but they were nice enough to reprise Gollum and other classic Lord of the Rings characters. It may be an unexpected journey fraught with danger and uncertainty, but we weren’t surprised when it was picked up as a possible trilogy.
Zero Dark Thirty (December 19)
The upcoming film from Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") is billed as "the story of history's greatest manhunt for the world's most dangerous man." That man, of course, is Osama bin Laden, and the manhunt refers to the special ops forces mission to capture or kill him.
The movie stars Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Chris Pratt and others, and promises to be a top-notch military action thriller that will probably make us experience a wide range of emotions, both good and bad.
This is 40 (December 21)
What would the holidays be without a few hundred laughs in a two-hour time frame? Judd Apatow seems like the likely candidate to deliver such a gift, and with Paul Rudd by his side displaying the downside of turning 40, we'd be surprised if there weren't a few wet pants in the theater.
Supported by Leslie Mann, this oddball couple has spun off from their background roles of 2007’s "Knocked Up" onto the center stage. Apatow has a keen sense for honest portrayals of the strange times in life, especially around the time people are going over the hill.
Expect good jokes with a bit of honesty attached and some great surprise guests, like Megan Fox and the very sexy, John Lithgow.
Jack Reacher (December 21)
Tom Cruise puts on the daddy pants in this crime drama about a fearless vigilante-type hero with “nothing to lose,” easily Cruise’s most badass role yet. Based on the Lee Child mystery thriller, the film is bursting at the seams with hand-to-hand combat and reckless driving. Classic Cruise.
Jack Reacher’s intense search for the truth behind a series of murders puts him in a real predicament, but like always, we expect Tom to make it out just fine, probably with a smoking hot girl, too (Rosamund Pike, for instance).
Bottom line: If Tom Cruise is in it, whether it's "Mission Impossible" or a Scientology documentary, we'll flock to our closest theater.
On the Road (December 21)
Jack Kerouac said it best when he stated, "The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live." "On the Road" is an adaptation of the 1957 novel by the late real life fear and loather, Kerouac himself.
Taking up the mantle are Viggo Mortensen, Kristen Stewart and Amy Adams (among others) who capture a snapshot of life on the road and the people you might meet along the way. It’s like "The Rum Diary" meets "Into the Wild," only mostly in dismal back country.
Telling the tale of his journey across America, Kerouac shows the reader how mixed up and wild life can get with a little drugs and imagination. The film will hopefully follow suit by opening our minds to love, experimentation, a good road trip and maybe getting freaky in the backseat of some car.
Next: 10 Absurd First Movies of Famous Actors
Django Unchained (December 25)
Quentin Tarantino, one of the most original (for lack of a better word) directors of our time, has returned with a handful of A-list talent and what seems to be an unsurprising amount of death and shoot-em-up scenes in his first film since 2009’s "Inglourious Bastards."
Jamie Foxx and Leonardo Dicaprio are at opposite ends in an everyday slave versus plantation owner battle. Foxx plays a freed slave on the rise against the very types of men who enslaved him, like Leo. Expect revolting, death, great facial hair, strange musical accompaniment and, with Tarantino, much of the unexpected.