Director: Dean Israelite
Stars: Jonny Weston, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista, Virginia Gardner
While searching around his father’s old things, David (Weston) finds a camcorder and sees something eerie – his present day self at his own seventh birthday party. As he, his sister, and his friends try to figure out what happened they come across some old files, and end up making a time machine. At first they have fun and try to make things in their lives better, but it quickly spirals out of control and some changes happen that they never could have foreseen.
Okay, so if you don’t like the whole idea of found footage movies then you should just ignore this one straight away. I’m not a huge fan of them but I don’t mind when they’re done well (example – Chronicle). In Project Almanac I was distracted because there were many shots that no-one would have filmed. However, the plot and characters were intriguing enough to keep me involved…at first.
While they’re learning how to use the time machine it’s a tad slow and repetitive, and I don’t think it does a good job of setting up exactly which theory of time travel they’re going to do. They seem to be able to remember the original version of events, but also go back and change things so their future selves would have different memories. Also, when they went back to the same point there weren’t multiple versions of themselves running about, so the mechanics don’t bear scrutiny.
But whenever you deal with time travel there are usually these things, and it doesn’t mean the film is bad. I mean, Primer probably has the most well-thought out mechanics of time travel but the movie was boring. Project Almanac is actually quite exciting for the most part, and there are some ethical questions introduced, although they weren’t explored to the extent that I would have liked.
At one point the film stops being fun and just falls flat towards the end. I liked the group dynamic but it gradually becomes more and more about David and thus more and more predictable. It also kinda forgets about the main reason they discovered the time machine in the first place – Dave’s application to college. That central plot point remains unresolved by the end. So yes, although I mostly enjoyed the act of watching it, it left a sour taste in my mouth.