Project Almanac, produced by Michael Bay and directed by David Israelite, it’s a time travel drama in the style of a handheld camera, ‘found footage’ film, though in the case of Almanac, everything is filmed because…. teenagers and because the plot requires it. The plot follows a group of out of luck, geeky teenage friends in high school going about their business, we get the impression that they’re sort of losers but they seem like normal enough high school kids, it centres on David and his life, though his friends play a big part as well.
Davids’ mom is out of a job an struggling to keep up with bills so is going to sell their house, she’s also a widow as Davids’ father died in a car accident when David was 6 years old, David and his sister Christina seem to cope well enough but things could obviously be better. Just from hearing that if you hadn’t seen the movie, you can imagine what David and Christina would likely do with a time machine if they had one and you’d probably not be too far off with your guess.
David and Christina find their fathers’ writings and plans for a time machine and suspending their disbelief, jump straight into the idea that it could work and set about making it, driving mostly by David, he’s helped by his friends and Quinn as well and they do the seemingly impossible, making and then using the time machine, driving forward the plot. Alright, it is a sci-fi but you do need to suspend your disbelief nonetheless with the science they present in how the time machine itself works but I guess that’s a minor point in the end. The film is okay as far as basic plots go, albeit quite predictable in the way handheld cam films in the last few years tend to play out plot wise, with characters finding a new power/location/machine, having fun with it an ultimately realizing it’s something bad, when things start to go bad. But in saying that, it does have a few twists here and there, again nothing groundbreaking but it helped to make the plot not completely average, the characters… aren’t exactly fleshed out or that interesting either, though the friends’ are a believable group. And the acting is passable, there aren’t any outstanding performances in this film if you’re thinking it’s quite like Chronicle, which it kinda is but yeah, no Michael B Jordan or Dane Dehaan’s in here.
The drama in the film seems a bit forced though and melodramatic, as actual teenage drama is I suppose, but more conflict within the friend group would have been interesting, the most drama centres around David and Jessie, his love interest, as they grow closer and eventually fall for each other. Things get complicated and David goes to increasingly silly lengths to fix his relationship with her, in the process messing up space-time or something as things start to go really wrong, this is the predictable and probably the worst part of the film as you feel like you’ve seen it done 100 times before and Project Almanac brings nothing new or nuanced to proceedings.
The story again takes predictable turns as it heads towards its conclusion and then… it ends on a whimper, though on a somewhat satisfying, ‘good’ ending, good in it not completely depressing. I do like that the film kept things a bit grounded in terms of time travel and the rules of its’ world, so there’s no visiting the 18th century, or famous historical characters, though the film could have had a bit of fun with that in a specific period of time. Project Almanac sticks to its’ modern setting for better or for worse and to its’ small group of characters, not really exploring more ideas about time travel and its’ repercussions, not bringing anything exciting or new to the sub-genre either, it’s a decent enough film and worth watching if you’re big into time-travel films but otherwise, it’s nothing special at all.
. Interesting premise
. Predictable, cliché plot
. Brings nothing new to time travel or the found footage genre