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 their future falls apart with disasters, and they come to realize the irreversible ripple effects caused by their time travels, they must decide to fix this once and for all.
"Project Almanac" is a flawed but worthy addition to the time travel genre
I think time travel movies are fascinating! The whole idea of changing your destiny and the possible ripple effects of doing so just blows my mind. Hollywood seems to understand all that pretty well, because they've given me (us) all sorts of different time travel movies to enjoy over the years. We've had comedies (the "Hot Tub Time Machine" films, the "Bill and Ted" movies and the "Back to the Future" films), action films ("Looper", "Timecop" and the "Terminator" films), adventure movies ("Timeline", "The Time Machine" and the 1960s and 70s (and the more recent) "Planet of the Apes" series of films), romances ("About Time", "13 Going on 30" and "Somewhere in Time"), time travel movies that play around with history ("Time After Time", "The Final Countdown" and "The Philadelphia Experiment"), mainly sci-fi (most of the "Star Trek" films) and movies that mainly explore that ripple effect I mentioned ("Source Code", "The Butterfly Effect" and "Sliding Doors"). And then there's "Project Almanac" (PG-13, 1:46), which brings together several different types of time travel movies and does it well mostly.
David Raskin (Jonny Weston) is no ordinary high school student. He's smart enough to get into MIT with a partial scholarship and invent a drone that he can control with sensors on his hands. He has friends like Quinn Goldberg (Sam Lerner) and Adam Le (Allen Evangelista), who are smart enough to help him with his projects, and a slightly younger sister named Christina (Virginia Gardner) who videos all of it. When this group discovers a strange image on an old video tape, they get together and make history. Or maybe I should say CHANGE history. The gang sees an image of teenage David in a mirror on a video tape of his 7th birthday party! His dad died in a car wreck a short time after shooting that video, but he left behind something that may help the teens unravel the mystery. David's dad was a brilliant inventor and apparently, at the time of his death, was working on a temporal displacement device – a time machine! David and his friends use a partially-built prototype and blue prints they find in David's basement to actually build the thing. After some trial and error, they successfully send a toy car back in time one minute and soon decide to use the machine on themselves.
What do they do with the ability to move back and forth through time? They address typical concerns of young adults. One of them cheats on a class presentation, another gets revenge on a school bully, they all cheat to win the lottery (and have a blast spending their winnings) and they party – going back in time three weeks to check out Lollapalooza. David eventually wants to go back ten years to save his dad's life, but first he wants to win the affections of his long-time crush, Jessie (Sofia Black-D'Elia) who has stumbled onto his little project and joins the crew. So, everyone is having a good time and changes the past to make their futures better. What could go wrong?
Plenty. Since our lives develop from a series of both big and small decisions, as well as chance occurrences, and all of our lives are so interconnected, changing even the smallest details of the past has ripple effects that no one can imagine at the time. For example, if a star high school basketball player breaks his leg and his team misses the playoffs, people who would have been at the championship game are now going to be doing other things and having different interactions with other people, a situation that could have tragic consequences. But going back in time to keep the negative ripple effects from occurring then changes other details, which could cause even more serious ripples. Changing the past becomes like pulling one stray thread out of a sleeve and ruining the whole shirt – or a butterfly flapping its wings, changing the air currents, and helping to cause a hurricane half-way around the world. And then there's the problem of going back in time and encountering your earlier self, a circumstance that, in this movie's story, endangers your very existence.
It's pretty exciting watching David and his friends change the past, deal with the consequences and then try desperately to fix things without causing any more harm. Unfortunately, there are a number of big and small holes in the plot along the way, but almost every movie – especially time travel movies – require each audience member to buy into the premise and press the "I believe" button. The movie takes a little too long to get to the really interesting parts of the story and spends too much time on the Lollapalooza scenes, but this movie taking time travel seriously and really exploring the possible repercussions makes up for all that. And can we PLEASE stop overusing the found footage format, especially in a movie like this when it's so unnecessary? Fortunately, the film's very cool special effects help you forget about how the movie was filmed and lets you appreciate it for what it is. Sure, "Project Almanac" has its problems, but it's still a pretty fun and interesting ride, and it is aimed at teenagers, but can easily be appreciated by older fans of time travel movies. All things considered, I had a good time at "Project Almanac" and give it a "B+".
11 of 28 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this