Project Almanac Blu-ray Review
I don’t like saying (or admitting) that a movie is targeted to a specific age group, but watching PROJECT ALMANAC made me feel old. For example, there’s a scene in this time traveling movie where they discuss things they’d like to go back and do and the one thing everyone agrees would be cool was to go to a Biggie and TuPac concert. Granted, that would be cool, but in the infinite possibilities of time travel, is that really the best you can come up with? But when I was able to resist the urge to shout “get off my lawn!” to the screen, I found myself interested in the time travel loops and twists PROJECT ALMANAC presented. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough to save itself from its juvenile characters.
I hate it when movies cast someone that looks like a supermodel as a nerd, especially in high school. But that’s exactly what they did here with Jonny Weston as David. David is a science “nerd” that just got accepted to MIT, but needs a big project to justify another scholarship. While stumbling through his attic, he finds a camcorder that he presumes belonged to his dead father. That leads him to his basement, where he finds the pieces of a time machine. And no, I have no idea why he didn’t start in his father’s workshop if he was looking for a science project, but that’s the kind of thing PROJECT ALMANAC didn’t bother to think about. Anyway, David and his friends build the time machine and then proceed to use it to go to concerts and get better grades on tests.
Although they don’t do anything halfway decent with the time travel, the one thing PROJECT ALMANAC did do was create a nifty little time travel web that was fun to sift through. As with all time travel movies, when a character travels back in time, it changes things in the future. The fun comes in when the group tries to figure out what changed and why and then go back to fix things, only to make them worse. I think this movie handles that intricacy of time travel better than most, but unfortunately, that’s a small part of the film and only erupts in the last 20 minutes or so.
Most of the time is spent on the teeny romance between David and Jessie, which was bland, boring and distracting from the more interesting time travel aspect of the movie. His two friends were wasted characters and didn’t add much to the mix, missing a much needed comic relief aspect of the film. But the absolute worst part of the movie was the found footage, shaky cam shtick. It worked for BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and I actually loved it in CLOVERFIELD, but this is a film where it wasn’t necessary. The camera plays a big part in what they’re trying to do, but it didn’t necessitate using the found footage angle. If anything, the limitations of the found footage gimmick really hindered director Dean Israelite’s ability to tell a story and it felt like we were missing out on what was going on at times.
PROJECT ALMANAC is not a terrible time travel movie, but unfortunately, there’s just not enough focus on the time travel aspect. It has such a limited scope (they can only go back 3 weeks for much of the film) and by the time it does pick up, it’s too late. It was also hindered by its unproven teenage leads, who constantly reminded you they were in high school.
Video: PROJECT ALMANAC looks beautiful on Blu-ray.
Audio: The audio was fine.
Alternate Opening (3:28): Why not watch it when it’s only three minutes long?
Deleted Scenes (9:35): Eight deleted scenes that, again, are worth watching if you liked the film at all.
Alternate Endings (4:45): Two alternated endings which were mildly interesting.