Sunday, October 27, 2013

REVIEW: Wizards Vs Aliens BFI screening

Wizards Vs Aliens
The Thirteenth Floor
BFI Southbank, London, Oct 27, 2013

Ft. Phil Ford, Annette Badland and more

Review by Jack Bowman

If you didn't catch the first series of former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies and The Waters of Mars co-writer Phil Ford's Wizards Vs Aliens, now is the chance to make up for that with the arrival of its second series on the CBBC Channel.

For those unfamiliar with the set-up of the show, it follows the adventures of Tom Clarke and his family, mostly all possessing magical abilities, who find themselves hunted by the Nekross, an alien race that consume magic and have sought out Earth's wizards as their last possible source of food in the universe. With the first series absolutely selling the genre-bending premise with the style and confidence you'd expect from the team behind the sadly-missed Sarah Jane Adventures while quickly establishing its own identity, WvA is ready for Series Two to develop the format in surprising and beautiful ways.

Phil Ford and Michael Higgs
Rather than present the series opener as one might expect, the BFI was fortunate to enough to be screening The Thirteenth Floor (originally developed by co-creator Phil Ford for SJA), a two-part story that comes much later in this year's run. We find Tom and his best mate Benny investigating the mysterious Wyvern House, a multi-storey, multi-company business block, where they quickly discover that Floor 13 appears to be missing, while the building has a reputation for sinister disappearances...

Showing us a mid-series story might seem an unusual move, but it turned out to be a master-stroke. Without giving away too much, it was absolutely a knock-out piece of telly which, after taking some complete left-field turns, promises not only that much fun will be had leading up to the storylines seen here, but also there will be much higher stakes leading towards the series finale. In short, if anything thinks WvA will play safe because it's "kids telly", prepare to be very, very surprised by the bravery and boldness the show will be taking this year.

There was nothing to fault with The Thirteenth Floor, everything was exceptional - the acting, writing, direction, composing, FX and prosthetics work were flawless, all rising to the challenge of this exceptional piece, and combined they all looked stunning on the BFI's cinema main screen. Just you wait and see.

Higgs, Badland, Ascott and Haran
It was incredibly heartening to see so many families attending the screening, amongst them a genuine number of child fans of the show were present to put the assembled panel of Scott Haran (Tom), Percelle Ascott (Benny), Michael Higgs and Annette Badland (who play Tom's father and gran respectively), Executive Producer Brian Minchin and Phil Ford through their paces. The BFI have always shown exceptional generosity towards younger visitors at screenings such as this, and a good-natured and funny Q & A resulted for all. For any family in attendence, the BFI must have left them all smiling greatly.

Wizards Vs Aliens is back, and it very much means business. Absolutely catch it on your TVs, from tomorrow onwards.

BLOGTOR RATING 10/10
Thanks to the BFI

Review by Jack Bowman

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