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

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

By Michael Cavna

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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By Michael Cavna  | August 12, 2009; 10:05 AM ET
Categories:  The Animation, The Holly Word  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Keeping Score: Who's NOT Running This Week's 'Tank'?
Next: Halle Berry, Mila Kunis and...Jeremy Duncan?


Lego wants it's own movie? Could this be the real reason why they refused to license the Spinal Tap DVD?

Posted by: jimbo1949 | August 12, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

As a dad, my poll options are reduced to one: Ponyo it is!

Posted by: drewdane | August 12, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo!!!!

Posted by: jessecline | August 12, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The best advantage that the Ponyo trailer had over the other two was that it is in Japanese (I'm assuming this is true everywhere, unless some bright boy programmed the trailer's language to be location-dependent). I'm sure I would have found the clip to be much less entertaining if I had been forced to listen to the synchronized version in English.

Posted by: kilby | August 12, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Slinky already has a 3 picture deal - it's called Toy Story.

Posted by: reiflame1 | August 12, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

"WHAM-O! The Frisbee That Ate Bisbee" is the greatest title ever devised for a film that will never be made. (At least, I hope not.) I bow in your general direction, Michael Cavna.

Posted by: greggwiggins | August 12, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Maybe I'm just a contrarian, but I would have preferred an English-language trailer for "Ponyo." :)

Posted by: SportzNut21 | August 12, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

>> SportzNut21:

Try this new English-language trailer (by now, I have it bookmarked):


Posted by: cavnam | August 12, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Now, THAT was an awesome trailer, Michael!

Posted by: SportzNut21 | August 13, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Having watched Speed Racer with my kids many years ago, I thought I would like Ponyo, but that was the most confusing trailer ever! What the heck is a Ponyo?

Posted by: 2old2readcomics | August 14, 2009 2:29 AM | Report abuse

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