Project Almanac (2014)
As a group of friends discover plans for a time machine, they build it and use it to fix their problems and for personal gain. But as the future falls apart with disasters, and each of them disappear little by little, they must travel back to the past to make sure they never invent the machine or face the destruction of humanity.
Genre : SF
Country : USA
Jonny Weston : David Raskin
Amy Landecker : Kathy Raskin
Sofia Black-D’Elia : Jessie Pierce
Director : Dean Israelite
“There’s a slight chance that oxygen and nitrogen naturally found in the air could catalyze.
What does that mean?
We could explode.”
Take “Back to the Future“, mix it with “Weird Science” and add the MTV mentality to it and you end up with a pale project as “Project Almanac“. A group of nerds who are too stupid to pass a chemistry test, but do have enough brain cells to build a time machine. I’ve seen a lot of nonsense in my life, but this beats everything. At first sight it was a nice concept, but after watching it you realize you have looked at a Teletubbies version of “Back to the Future“. I asked myself which audience they were aiming for. Of course that would be a teen audience, because there is no trace of difficult theories such as the paradoxes of time travel (way better elaborated in “Predestination” and “About time“). The complete film is no more than a list of ridiculous time jumps into the past to solve trivialities that turn the personal lives of these wizkids into a hell, I guess. If I had this time machine, I would have made a time jump to the moment when I was starting this movie. And then I would change my mind quickly.
What would you do if you could use a time machine and go back in time ? Would you try to change world history ( Murder Hitler ? No, that’s only on the 101st place on the “bucket list” of time travelling)? Would you try to meet legendary figures? Would you at least try to save a human life? I would go back to prevent Kurt Cobain from committing suicide, damn it ! Well, these brats have higher priorities. Nothing important for any ordinary earthling, but for these young people who live in their self-centered world where everything revolves around self-interest, the desire for adoration and complacency, these are extremely important items. They could get filthy rich by means of foreknowledge, solving all those other teen facts in a blink and making them irrelevant. But then there wouldn’t be the fun of flying to the past anymore.
It all starts when David (Jonny Weston) fails an MIT test and starts searching in the attic for a forgotten project of his father. Instead he finds an old camera with footage of his 7th birthday. However, he discovers on that footage him appearing in a mirror as a 17 year old boy. Eventually he finds in his father’s basement plans to create a time machine. Them using a disassembled X-box and the battery of a hybrid parked out front, was surely a firm warning for all the other ridiculous things that were to come.
There are really a lot of awful stupidities in this movie which leaves you with a “How is it possible” gaze. I really would like to know what brand of camera that was because the battery should be of exceptional quality since it’s still working after being on that attic for 10 years. I own a not so cheap camera myself and now I really think this is a piece of junk since these batteries only last for about a month. Furthermore, isn’t it logic that after realizing that you picked a wrong number and you didn’t win the lottery, that you go back in time and repeat the procedure (with the correct number of course) so you can continue your life as a multimillionaire ? Well I would do that but apparently this wasn’t really necessary for these wiseacres. Also I was stunned about the fact that a highschool student immediately notices, after a glance at highly sophisticated military plans, equations that can be compared to the theory of relativity. But then again, moments later when David makes a logical remark, no one understands. And before the first time jump David notices calmly that there is a possibility that they could explode because of some physical epiphenomenon. But those youngsters are daredevils because they simply disregard this.
Comparing this with “Back to the Future” is an insult to this successful teen film about time travelling. The latter was an original, entertaining, ingenious and creative film which I’ve watched with pleasure. “Project Almanac” is boring, childish and unoriginal. I even expected that they would seek for a “flux capacitor” in the DIY store. This is simply a fusion of two endlessly copied hypes : time travelling and found footage.
And that’s the next weak point of this film. I recommend not to watch this flick with a full stomach, because it’s completely filmed with a handheld camera. David’s younger sister was instructed to record everything (and that means really everything). And that’s what you get dished up,in full. So you can expect a camera constantly being waved around with blurry images as a result. Sit close to the screen and you’ll be as sick as an amateur fisherman who’s sitting on a fishing boat for the first time in a heavy storm. You might even wish you had that time machine to prevent “The Blair Witch Project” of being made, so that we were spared of more found footage nonsense like this. Some films succeed in getting the imprint of being “timeless,” but this film will, in spite of the applicable topic, never achieve this. Best you avoid this movie because it’ll only cost you valuable time you’ll never be able to recover again.