Student sets out to review everything in existence. Fails miserably.
Reboots have become an increasingly large staple of the entertainment industry. Recent years have treated us to new versions of films like Total Recall and Spiderman. In 2014 we are apparently due a rehashing of RoboCop, and Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger is currently flopping its way through the Box Office. None of these films have been particularly well-received by critics, and as a result, God’s latest foray into the world of remakes strikes me as a particularly bold decision.
The Perseid Meteor Shower (itself a spin-off of the Swift-Tuttle franchise) was first released in China back in 36AD, where it was met with mixed to positive reviews. However, director God apparently wasn’t happy with the result, as every summer since he’s released yet another reworking of it. As a long-time fan of the Perseid series, I was pretty excited for 2013’s new version. However, in today’s reboot-saturated market, can this offering possibly do well?
It feels only fair to start with the positives. Perseid 2013 features some remarkable practical effects, something rarely seen in today’s CGI-dominated industry. The meteors look fantastic; the decision to use real ice and dust instead of just rendering it on a computer was a bold one on the director’s behalf, and it has certainly paid off. Also of note is the lack of dialogue – an unconventional move (possibly inspired by The Artist’s recent success), but one that I feel makes everything feel that much more poignant. What’s more, Perseid has a few fleeting cameos from some pretty big stars that are sure to delight – I’m not going to spoil anything, but keep an eye out for them.
(‘Stars’. I’m not even sorry.)
Unfortunately, these brief appearances prove to be the highlights of proceedings. Coming in at a total running time of just over a month, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that Perseid 2013 has been padded out somewhat, and even in the hour or so of it that I watched, most of what I saw was little more than filler. Don’t get me wrong, when the meteors do show up they’re splendid, but between each one are long scenes where nothing much happens at all. What’s more, these scenes are heavily reminiscent of the director’s ongoing Night Sky series, to the extent that you begin to suspect he may have blown Perseid’s entire budget on a few elaborate effects, and then had to use whatever he had lying around to fill in the gaps.
That wasn’t the biggest disappointment however. The true problem with Perseid lies in a crippling lack of originality. With a re-release guaranteed every year, you would have thought that God may have decided to mix his formula up somewhat, to move away from the simple concept of ‘objects in the sky’ and take the franchise in a new direction. Both Total Recall and The Lone Ranger attempted this, and while they may not have been critically successful, at least they were trying something new. What God has produced here is nigh-indistinguishable from its predecessors; a re-treading of old ground that’s afraid to break away from tradition and consequently suffers. The sheer spectacle on offer may go some way towards masking this issue (especially for younger viewers or those entering the franchise for the first time), but it’s like trying to turn your car into a human by rubbing a box on it; it doesn’t really work and it’s slightly reminiscent of Transformers.
All in all, it doesn’t look like Perseid 2013 will finally break the trend of reboots being critical flops. Here’s hoping 2014 is the year that God finally bows to public pressure and instead announces a new series of his unfairly-cancelled Dinosaurs. I know I’d watch it.