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Posted at 10:05 AM ET, 08/12/2009

'District 9' to 'Ponyo': What New Film Will You Catch First?

Apartheid extraterrestrials? Shape-shifting goldfish? Suddenly, the notion of a mere time-travelin' hubby sounds relatively plausible given the other mind-bending film offerings this Friday -- one of the year's more crowded weekends for fans of fantasy.

The South African-set "DISTRICT 9," the Neill Blomkamp film produced by Peter Jackson, is one of the most anticipated films of the year, and will likely be the one other than "Avatar" to answer the question: Do filmgoers in 2009 want a thinking-person's sci-fi film -- or do they want ALL their empty-headed sci-fi blockbusters to be based on a line of toys?

(Speaking of: Given the huge haul of the twin "Transformers" flicks and the early success of "G.I. Joe," what's the next toy to get its own film, o fellow Riffsters? How long till we're gifted with "Pet Rock: The Silent Crusher" or "Revenge of the Nerfs" or -- yes -- "WHAM-O! The Frisbee That Ate Bisbee"? Just sayin'.)

(What a coinkydoink -- THIS just in: Warner Bros. has bought the rights to [wait for it]...the LEGO. Yes, that "timeless toy" will now be the basis for a live-action/CGI flick long till the Slinky earns a three-picture deal?)

ANYhoo: The weekend will also bring "PONYO," the latest environmental tale from legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. At San Diego Comic-Con, the screened footage from "Ponyo" was one lush rush. Pixar founder John Lasseter has pushed to given the Great Miyazaki-san his widest U.S. release ever -- and no doubt helped land the siblings of Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers as English-language voices.

Then there's "THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE," starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana. He plays the hubby who genetically can't stay put -- literally. You want commitment issues? Dude can't even commit to a single decade for long. This is time travel for those who like their sci-fi wrapped in "The Notebook."

So the Official 'Riffs Question of the Day is: If you go to the multiplex or arthouse this weekend and have to pick which of these debuting films to see first, which one is it? Here are trailers for all three; the reader poll follows:





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The Robert Kirkman comic book "The Walking Dead" might be marching, though zombie-like, to television. Cable's AMC has acquired the rights in its biggest development deal yet, says the Hollywood Reporter. "Dead" follows survivors of a zombie apocalypse. ...

By  |  10:05 AM ET, 08/12/2009

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