Roland Emmerich's "2012" offers a potential cinematic blueprint for the events leading up to December 21, 2012. Emmerich takes a fairly detailed look at the time when the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar reaches the end of its current "cycle," leading to the end of humanity.Sony Pictures Releasing: 2012 Online Press Kit
Emmerich isn't the only filmmaker to tackle extinction-level events like this, however.
Look, for instance, at "The Core," a movie dealing with a geomagnetic reversal of the Earth's magnetic poles. Scientists say the core of the planet is composed of solid iron surrounded by molten metal. That outer core spins, creating the magnetic field that protects humans against solar radiation. A geomagnetic reversal could affect the core as well as the effectiveness of the magnetic field.
As ABC News pointed out in 2010, the Mayans predicted a final event that included violent earthquakes. In 1974, the late Charlton Heston led an all-star cast in "Earthquake," a thriller dealing with violent seismic activity in California. Quakes are a constant threat to the West Coast, but the Mayans may have predicted ones that could wipe out entire regions.
The classic science fiction adventure "The Day the Earth Stood Still" indicates that mankind's own bad behavior may lead to its extinction. As a civilization branching out into space, humans have come under scrutiny by beings living on other planets. An emissary arrives on Earth with gifts and a warning for mankind to get its act together. The Mayan Calendar may be the remnants of such an extraterrestrial warning.
Even before the Mesoamerican calendar made headlines, global warming has been a constant threat. "The Day After Tomorrow" shows how concentrated greenhouse gasses lead to the dawn of a new Ice Age. Dennis Quaid plays Jack Hall, a climatologist who predicts that flash freezing is possible in many areas of the world. Jake Gyllenhaal is Sam, Jack's son who is caught is one of the endangered areas.
Shifting magnetic poles and earthquakes could send magma flooding into new places. "Volcano," a 1997 thriller starring Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche, shows a new volcano forming in the heart of Los Angeles. Those caught in the subway tunnels meet a fiery end before the rest of the city.
"Deep Impact," a 1998 adventure, follows a comet as it heads on a collision course towards Earth. Governments across the globe take steps to preserve great minds, literature, and art as a manned spaceship heads off to destroy the comet.
December 21, 2012, may be the exact date when the machines start to take over, just as they did in the futuristic world of "The Terminator." Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a cybernetic killing machine that time travels to the past to kill mankind's future savior. Excess cosmic radiation from a geomagnetic reversal could be the catalyst that gives artificial intelligence the upper hand.
Some scientists believe that a comet or asteroid may have killed off the dinosaurs. "Night of the Comet," a tongue-in-cheek post-apocalyptic adventure, shows how the same thing nearly happens to humans. A comet passes close to the Earth, turning those not protected by solid steel walls into mindless zombies.