Project Almanac Review

Project Almanac (2015) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

PROJECT ALMANAC

Director: Dean Israelite
Writers: Jason Pagan (as Jason Harry Pagan), Andrew Deutschman
Stars: Jonny Weston, Amy Landecker, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Virginia Gardner

“Project Almanac” is about a bunch of teenagers finding and building a time machine after David Raskin (Jonny Weston) discovers shocking footage of his present self in a video of his 7th Birthday party from ten years previously. Using the “found footage” technique to me was a little off putting but the opening 15 minutes kept me intrigued as the storyline was interesting enough.

Finding and building a time machine doesn’t come easy as David uncovers his fathers buried government work (in the family basement) complete with blueprints etc and along with two other technical geniuses Quinn Goldberg (Sam Lerner) and Adam Le (Allen Evangelista). “Project Almanac” really tries to explain the technical difficulties of time travel and how to overcome and manipulate the process.

Previous time travel movies haven’t really gone into the logistics and functions of making time travel possible as the audience doesn’t really care how it works but more interested in the rules, the process itself and the consequences. HG Wells Time Machine (1960) explains the space time continuum involving space and time briefly in its opening ten minutes before we are whisked off to fight the Morlocks with Rod Taylor. Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future (1985) controls time with a Delorean, a Flux Capacitor and a case of Plutonium whilst Ashton Kutcher manipulates the past with his mind, blackouts and journals in The Butterfly Effect (2003)

After a build up of 45 minutes “Project Almanac” has a few tried and failed attempts before it works. I really was beginning to get bored at this point and felt the movies pacing was all wrong. The running time of this movie was 105 minutes and for the first 45 minutes apart from the video footage there really isn’t anything there that couldn’t just been condensed into 15 minutes. There was also contradictions in the time travel process as we see the character Quinn resit his science exam 4 times by leaping back to the event to get it right with the others waiting in the wings to see the outcome in the same spot in the same location without duplicating themselves with previous versions of themselves. Also, apparently time travel allows you to magically appear in a different space to where you began and transports you to a music festival with backstage passes and also allows you to appear on stage with your favourite artist and they don’t mind you joining them on stage.

I felt all the characters were undeveloped two dimensional and hardly change during the duration of the movie. The main character David is the only one that slightly changes as the film progresses. The other characters Quinn, Adam, Jessie, Christina seem to be in there for nothing more than convenience. None of this really helped the actors of course as they came off wooden and I felt we’re going through the motions at times with unnatural reactions to discovering time travel.

Director Dean Israelite uses the so called “found footage” technique and it does very little with it and i felt it seems to just cover up bad editing (the cuts are executed poorly and sometimes confusing) and camera-work. Israelite is directing this years Power Rangers movie and it will be interesting to see how he fairs on a more traditional filming process in this franchise.

The visuals faired better in the movie thanks to Eran Barnea who has previously worked with ILM on Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) and Spider-Man 2 (2004) and both of these movies are remembered for their visual effects more so than their storylines.

Another standout was of course the soundtrack and music editing by Kevin McKeever who has previously worked on World War Z (2013) and xXx: Return of Zander Cage (2017) both the editing and how the music was used in this movie cannot be faulted although I would have preferred some score in in the movie which unfortunately wouldn’t and couldn’t work thanks to the “found footage” style of filmmaking.

I think overall, this movie was quite average and messy at times, as the opening 15 minutes promises so much and doesn’t really go anywhere and you are left waiting a long time before any time travel is achieved. Unless you like this kind of movies I do not suggest you watch it as the only ones I feel have lost track of time is the audience.

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