Ah, found footage. A genre I genuinely enjoy when done correctly. Time travel. Who doesn’t enjoy a good time travel film? When I saw the trailer for Project Almanac, I expected Back To The Future mixed with the film style of Chronicle. That is what I got… well… sort of.
I dislike plot synopses as I find them to be a cheap way to pad a review. Long story short, watch the trailer to find out what you need to know. Go ahead and watch it then return to the review. I can wait.
Okay, so you have seen the trailer now. Pretty cool idea, huh? The story starts off strong and the potential is clearly there. It is fun to imagine where you would go with a time machine. The characters each throw around some ideas like killing Hitler, or going back to see dinosaurs. But first things first, they want to make their lives better.
Every one of them has something in the past they want to fix or change. This is actually the best part of the film as they are simply having fun and you can’t help but feel like you are right there with them. David Raskin (Jonny Weston) sets the ground rules for time travel when they do finally make the machine. But of course, rules are made to be broken.
What was set up in the first half of the film ends up getting ruined by the rules getting broken. After a while I felt as if I was watching The Butterfly Effect again due to the way things were being changed. It felt weird and plot holes started popping up way too frequently. There were minor ones in the beginning, but after a while I had to shut off my brain. Everything gets so screwy, and I could not even keep up with how many issues there were with the plot by the end. Nevertheless, the story is good but nothing more.
You can relate to every character. David Raskin is a solid protagonist, and his two friends, Quinn Goldberg (Sam Lerner) and Adam Le (Allen Evangelista), are fun sidekicks. David’s sister Christina (Ginny Gardener) ends up being nothing more than a glorified camera man. She has one scene where she exacts her revenge on another girl at school, but there was no build up to it and it comes from out of nowhere.
Then the true trouble arrives.
One character dragged this film down. Jessie Pierce (Sofia Black D-Elia) is a one note character who ends up being the love interest. This is where Project Almanac screws up what Chronicle did right. You see, Chronicle kept the film focused on their three leads. There was not an unnecessary love interest and the film remained focused because of it. Project Almanac had that potential.
The minute Jessie became a love interest, which was about midway through the film, everything nose dives. Honestly, cut her out of the film and we have an almost Chronicle quality film here. Ugh. Most of the characters are a bit one dimensional besides David as he is fleshed out pretty well and carries the film as any good lead should.
How was the found film footage used here? Um, average I would say myself. Nothing new was brought to the table because of it, and actually I believe they never needed it. Removing it would have removed Christina and then it would have been just the three boys. It is never really explained why a camera is being held after the opening of the movie and is a bit confusing.
It may seem like I am just hating on this film. I actually enjoyed it. It does not match Chronicle or Cloverfield, but it is definitely above Earth To Echo and Into The Storm. The movie has genuinely funny moments, and I found myself smiling quite a bit. Unlike Back To The Future, Project Almanac does not maintain time travel integrity. If you shut off your brain on the time travel plot holes, you will enjoy the film much more.
I must address the content in the film, because it needs to be mentioned. Language is prevalent throughout. You will hear a few words sporadically through Almanac, and they do not take away from anything as this is teenage boys who are experiencing life changing events.
Since the leads are teenage boys, many times women are shown as something they desire such as women in short shorts and one scene in swimsuits. It makes sense for the characters. Pre-martial sex is talked about in one scene and is not discouraged. I would not recommend this film to anyone under sixteen personally. Lastly, there are some product placements. Nothing over the top besides the slow motion shot of a Red Bull flying. It is in your face and out of place with the rest of the film.
Overall, Project Almanac is a good film. The first half is a lot of fun and is a bit awe-inspiring. If you can get past the plot holes in the second half then you are in for a solid movie. I do hope to see more found footage films in the future, just not produced by Michael Bay and MTV.
+ David Raskin + Time Travel + Genuine dialogue + Many funny moments +First half of the film
- Jessie Pierce - Found footage is not used in any new ways - Plot holes with time travel are obvious - Wasted potential - Second half of the film
The Bottom Line
Overall a solid film that starts off great and slides into above average.