Film review: Project Almanac (USA, 2015)

project almanac feature

THERE are two ways you can go when making a movie about time travel.

The first is to do a bit of research into the science and at least have a stab at including some form of explanation about how it’s done in your movie (see Interstellar). The second is to throw the scientific journals out the window, say “to hell with it” and simply have fun with the whole idea (see Back to the Future, Bill & Ted and a million others).

Project Almanac is most certainly in the second category, but while the idea of a found-footage movie starring four relatively-unknown American early-twenty-somethings playing 17 year-old schoolkids who chance upon plans to build a time machine may seem painful, the reality is somewhat different.

Seventeen year-old David Raskin (Jonny Weston) has followed in his dead father’s footsteps by aspiring to be a scientist and inventor. Needing to get a scholarship to attend a prestigious university, he roots around his father’s old spare parts for project ideas and finds a video camera containing footage of his seventh birthday. Watching it with friends Adam (Allen Evangelista) and Quinn (Sam Lerner), and his sister Christina (Virginia Gardner), he spots his 17 year-old reflection in a mirror on the video. They find blueprints and a mysterious mechanical object in the basement, and in a montage that would do Team America proud, they build the machine (don’t ask – it’s something to do with car batteries and hydrogen).

So far so good. After a few test runs involving sparks, bright lights, blatant product placement and not much dialogue beyond “Woo, yeah! Did you see that?” the fun begins. With the class babe Jessie (Sofia Black D’Elia) along for the ride, the quintet use time travel to pass exams, win the lottery, avenge bullying, get backstage passes at Lollapalooza and generally become the cool kids in school.

However, it’s not long before everything turns to crud when the gang realises that the tiny things they change in the past have huge consequences for events in the future – David and Jessie not getting together, their school football team not winning the championship and a huge plane crash being the main three, seemingly in no particular order of importance. It’s only when David realises he has to go back in time by himself to confront his father, destroy the blueprints and still work out how to get the girl that the climax is reached.

So, does the dodgy plot or unnecessarily cheesy love story ruin Project Almanac? On the whole, no. It’s a harmless bit of fun with decent acting by a young cast, and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, mainly courtesy of excellent supports Evangelista and Lerner. Just don’t think about the science.

PROJECT ALMANAC IS IN CINEMAS NOW.

For Scenestr

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