Riftworld Chronicles

“Riftworld Chronicles”

Webseries review by David Paul Hellings.


A wizard finds himself in modern day Toronto, having clearly arrived in the wrong place and time. Aided only by a struggling journalist, the now powerless wizard and his disbelieving new partner must figure out why he is here, how their destinies are tied, and what foes are after them?

Based on the successful short fantasy film “The Portal”, Jonathan Williams’ eight part Canadian fantasy comedy web series “Riftworld Chronicles”, starring Tahmoh Penikett (“Battlestar Galactica”, “Continuum”, “Supernatural”) as the hapless wizard Alar of Caer Caladh, and Erin Karplutt (“Rookie Blue”, “Saving Hope”, “Being Erica”) as Kim, the journalist who slowly comes to believe that Alar may not actually be the lunatic she thinks he is, has just aired its trailer at this year’s SDCC.

Eight five-minute episodes have been funded via the Independent Production Fund, the private fund for Canadian web-series, as well as a well-supported post-production Kickstarter campaign by fans of the original short. Writer/Director Williams hopes that publicity for the web series will allow him to develop a one-hour per episode series. Based on early reaction, the signs are promising.

With nods to films such as “Highlander” and “The Terminator” (the arrival of both wizard and later an assassin searching for him a clear homage to Cameron’s first film), “Riftworld Chronicles” is a well made, lovingly played series with a witty and amusing script that doesn’t overplay its hand in terms of the fish out of water scenario at the heart of the series. Penikett is great fun to watch as the magician whose powers are non-existent in the modern world, and the cultural misunderstandings in conversation with Kim (Karplutt, clearly relishing her part as the journalist who initially thinks Alar is a homeless schizophrenic) are well played and nicely judged, the dialogue smart, funny and charming.

For such a low budget web series, “Riftworld Chronicles” is well shot, a limited amount of SFX allowing the money to go on getting decent cast and making use of locations in an intelligent way. Time travel and humour have been done before, films such as “Warlock”, “Les Visiteurs”, “Time After Time”, “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”, “Time Bandits”, and “Back to the Future” amongst the most entertaining. “Riftworld Chronicles” knows its limitations in terms of budget and focuses on the relationship between Alar and Kim and is more the better for it. The dialogue for all the cast is genuinely funny and these eight short episodes hint that a full series would be full of possibilities.

After the success of the short and the fan interest in the web series, you would expect CBC to greenlight a full season. It deserves it. There are many potential adventures ahead in the “Riftworld Chronicles”. It’s increasingly probable that we will get to see them.

Great fun and highly recommended for fans of comedy fantasy.

This review originally appeared on SFFWorld:



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