Director: Dean Israelite
Starring: Jonny Weston, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista, Virginia Gardner
Written by: Andrew Deutschman and Jason Pagan
Running Time: 106 mins
Release date: 16th February 2015
Supposing you found a time machine, what would you do? Would you go back and change history? Or would you try to better your own life? Or would you go to all those places you wish you could and enjoy each moment? Those are the kind of questions open for the young heroes in this found footage teen adventure produced by Michael Bay. While it doesn’t offer up anything particularly original, it isn’t a total disaster either.
David is a grade A science student who has just got into MIT. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the grant he needed to pay for his course. In order to raise some money, he goes searching among his late father’s science experiments and discovers a video tape of his seventh birthday. In the reflection of a mirror is David as he is now. This triggers off another discovery, that his father was working on a time machine. With his best friends and sister filming every moment, the gang rebuild the machine that sends them back in to time to do whatever they please. Yet David feels that events from their past have changed their future.
As with all found footage films, the camera work can be as shoddy and shaky as it likes. This has to be one of the shakiest. It rarely stops moving, as we see the events unfold with choppy editing and head-spinning, nauseating motion. A word of warning: if you suffer from motion sickness, then this might not be for you.
With so many time travel movies out there, including another one released this week, Predestination, it’s easy to fill a film like this with head-scratching science babble and illogical plot holes. This has more holes than a string vest but you have to remember that this is aimed at the teen generation. It dops his cap towards other, more superior time travel movies like Back To The Future, Bill and Ted and Looper, while never really stepping on its toes.
Laced with trendy “dude” style dialogue, the kids go on an adventure, changing their lives in small ways, like conquering bullies, passing tests and even becoming VIPs at a festival. All the kinds of things teenagers want to do. Nothing is taken too seriously until they notice that future events have started to occur when they’ve been jumping back and forth through time. Then it starts to put on its grown up hat and attempts to be po-faced about time travel and the consequences. This is when the film starts to falter.
The cast of pretty young things, as well as the geeky looking “comedy” character, do a fine job with the material and are brimming with energetic exuberance that does get a tad annoying in places, but this isn’t a film about extraordinary performances. This is a slice of nonsensical entertainment that does its job while it’s on and little else.
Project Almanac isn’t going to win any awards for originality and you may find the whole experience a little too much by the end. Yet it’s better than it has any right to be and while it’s on, you do get swept along with the events and even find yourself wonder how they are going to resolve some of the paradoxes they create for themselves. It’s no Back To The Future, or for that matter, Bill and Ted but as an undemanding piece of fun, it’s perfectly acceptable.