MOVIE REVIEW: Project Almanac (2015)
‘Cinema One’, ‘Almanac’ and ‘Welcome to Yesterday’; these were the names given to an American science fiction thriller directed by Dean Israelite before it was finally named ‘Project Almanac’.
Written by Jason Harry Pagan and Andrew Deutschman, the movie was filmed in 2013 and initially expected to be released early last year.
The movie which finally opened in Malaysian cinemas on Jan 29 revolves around David Raskin (Jonny Weston), a nerdy high school student.
David manages to enroll into prestigious MIT but cannot afford the fees. He rummages through his late father’s possessions to find something that may help him with a scholarship.
One thing leads to another, and David finds the blueprints for a time machine. We learn that his deceased father was actually secretly working for the US military.
(And we are also supposed to believe that the US military would leave the blueprints to a time machine lying around in their dead employee’s basement for possible exposure to a country enemy or even worse, a group of teenagers.)
Nonetheless, with the help of two friends, the smart one, Adam Le (Allen Evangelista) and the clown, Quinn Goldberg (Sam Lerner) plus David’s sister Christina (Virginia Gardner), the gang starts to build the machine.
With a clown like Quinn, be prepared for hormone-induced teenage boy jokes and references to masturbation or female anatomy.
The woman protagonist who later joins the time-travelling gang comes in the form of David’s longtime crush Jessie Pierce (Sofia Black D’Elia) when the gang steals Jessie’s car battery to start up the machine.
One special appearance worth mentioning is Imagine Dragon.
Hey, if you are a teenager with a time machine what better time or reason to revisit the past than last summer’s Lollapalooza’s to watch the band play, win the lottery and ace the test you failed right?
At first, I thought the build-up of the story was a bit slow and left me agitated wondering, ‘So when are the bad things going to start happening?’
These kids kept having fun, so I thought by the natural laws of Hollywood the bad things should have been coming sooner.
Of course, they eventually did happen because by going back in time the gang caused ripple effects to the events occurring around them.
Putting aside some illogical situations here and there, if a thriller is what you seek, that’s what you are going to get watching ‘Project Almanac’.
The excitement builds up around how successful David and his friends are in building the machine and the success of their time-travelling attempts.
Since the rule-of thumb of all time-travelling films is that you do not mess with the past, the thrill is also seeing how David is going to fix the mess.
David’s repetitive line while talking to himself on camera is: “I’m going back to go back and fix everything.”
The movie is interesting enough to watch for the first time but unlike the situations in this movie, it is not something you would want to go back the cinema and watch again and again, even if you have a time machine and use it to watch the movie for free.
The most ‘unsteady’ part was the camera angle because this Michael Bay-produced movie was running along a found footage concept.
Whoever thought shaking cameras and filming from weird angles was art should stop doing it: it might fit in with the current trend where GoPro is becoming more mainstream, but it is dizzying and unreal.
Let’s face it, in the real world no one catches themselves feuding on film. Even if you are going to film yourself, please use a tripod or at least put the camera on a flat surface; the only thing the found footage concept is able to deliver is a headache.
Bay, please take note.
For me, it is 3 stars out of 5.
Project Almanac (2015)
Director: Dean Israelite
Starring: Jonny Weston, Sofia Black D’Elia, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista, Virginia Gardner
Running time: 106 min