Project Almanac – 2.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

project almanacProject Almanac – 2.5/5 – Found Footage films were once part of an amazing craze.  After a while, they have become a type of filming for misfortune.  Some fall into a trap of bad storytelling or terrible character progression.  No matter which path it falls on; the reason that ‘found footage’ films misstep is because they are based on ‘realistic’ situations with fantastic elements.  That basic draw can bring a glaring light to the flaws of the film.  Alas; we have another found footage film with Project Almanac.  Based with the generic plot theme of ‘time travel’; Project Almanac gives enough that will make it slightly entertaining.  What fails in this particular one is the ‘lacking’ of real depth and the mess that comes in the final part of the film.  In the end; Project Almanac is the ‘middle of the road’ within the found footage genre.

Premise: Five friends find the schematics to a time traveling device.  As they begin to experiment; the causes of going back in time begin to have some terrible ripple effects.  When this happens; decisions become dire; and one of them (David) must figure out the best situation to reset the future on its proper course.

The film is centered on five teenagers; played by unknown actors/actresses:

Jonny Weston as David Raskin

Sofia Black-D’Elia as Jessie Pierce

Sam Lerner as Quinn Goldberg

Allen Evangelista as Adam Le

Virginia Gardner as Christina Raskin

These five individuals do a great job invoking the raw personalities of teenagers in the 21st century.  With the added spin in three of them being computer and/or scientific ‘nerds’; it adds great dynamic to the ‘back and forth’ banter as well as some emotional situations for each of them.  When you throw in the added element of time traveling; those kinds of characteristics found in their friendship helps play within this story and their lives, but doesn’t add much to sway any of their performance as amazing or dull.  The ‘found-footage’ aspect adds to this kind of middle-ground; where even though there isn’t a ‘driving force’ for the film; the characters along with the realistic allure keeps you following along with them on this trajectory that eventually becomes a convoluted story.

The direction follows a typical narrative of time traveling themes within the found footage situation.  You have some common ‘life changing’ scenario that sparks the revelation of the ‘time travel’ plot device.  This will eventually lead to the ‘initial’ grand allure of this aspect; but the eventual ‘downfall’ of using the machine.  The ‘life changing’ scenario here is that David has been accepted to MIT.  This also is compounded by the fact they his family has no money to send him there.  With no money and his mom unemployed; all seems lost.  With some other ‘secondary’ issues; all these elements converge on the path to finding a ‘time traveling’ schematic left behind by David’s father.  From here; the device is built and there are initial ‘experimental’ concept presented; that lead to the ‘what ifs’ with action vs. consequences.  The theories help present an auspicious tone that creates the allure of the unknown as we transition into the second act.  That aspect helps ‘reel’ you into the concepts, hoping that something good will come out of them building the time travel device.  With the ‘action vs. consequence’ situations enveloping the ’cause and effect’ aspect of using time travel; it is blended efficiently with the familiar without becoming unbelievable.  The one good thing about this film is that it does a great job (in the first half and part of the second act) in presenting time travel on a simple thread without creating glaring plot holes.  Everything feels ‘in sync’ with the ’cause and effect’ aspect of this complex theory.  Eventually, decisions lead to some dire ‘ripple effects’ on future events.  When this happens; David begins jumping back alone to fix the past, leading to even deeper divergence within the time lines.  This is also built upon the aspects of  teenage antics and love themes  This fragments the central time traveling elements, drowning in as ‘fillers’ to create a bridge between the initial use of time traveling to the ‘consequential’ outcome from David’s choices.  A lot of it is unnecessary, causing more harm to the film by introducing the flaws that come with found footage.  With trying to cause some ‘theatrical’ dynamics within the characters, the film ‘turning point’ becomes a glaring plot holes and relative paradox.  This leads to the story to generate a circle of convolution that is left for ‘accepting’ without being completely explained.  When the film heads into the third act; reasons for their ‘initial’ experiment comes to head when David make what comes across as the predictable ‘ultimate’ sacrifice.  As we come to the climax, it is a bittersweet ending paralleling an obvious paradox to the crossing timelines and effects.  The film ends with the ideal of being adventurous, but lags with the note of messy teenage thrills and unexplained theories that pushes glaring plot holes to the forefront.

The visuals are what you expect from any kind of found footage film.  It is aesthetic to the pleasing eye, but doesn’t add any real color to the story being told.  There is no real purpose of the score; but it is something you must note as it is part of the film.

Project Almanac is a film that flourishes at times with the time travel themes; but falls into a whirlwind of the common paradox that compounds within the time traveling plot devices.  Even for the convoluted mess that this film becomes; there is still some enjoyment in watching this throughout.  If you’re a fan of time traveling or found footage; check this out as a matinee.  In the long run; wait for a rental at best.

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