Project Almanac might not be a great movie, and in my book no found footage feature is anyway, but there is just enough that kept my attention from at least likable characters, as well as half-decent visual effects. That said, it’s nothing more than a Red Box rental and nothing more. The Blu-ray released by Paramount is really basic with minimal bonus material but the audio/video transfers were both impressive.
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Thriller
Paramount | PG13 – 106 min. – $39.99 | June 9, 2015
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
Said it before and I’ll say it again: I hate found footage movies, a format so overused and sadly due I presume to covering budget limitations is here to stay for a few more years. The flip side to saving money is the format doesn’t lend to character development. Having said that, the latest, Project Almanac is one of the better “FF” flicks I’ve seen, though that really isn’t saying a whole lot.
The story centers on David Raskin (JONNY WESTON), his sister Christina (VIRGINIA GARDNER) and two of his best friends, Quinn (SAM LERNER) and Adam (ALLEN EVANGELISTA). After successfully creating a drone controlled via infrared and a cell phone, a creation that gets him into MIT, he discovers he’s only receiving a $5,000 scholarship and must come up with the extra $40k. After digging through his attic trying to find something of his father’s, who was a genius himself and died in a car accident a decade earlier, he find an old camera which had footage of his 7th birthday and upon closer examination, sees himself, grown up, in the reflection in a mirror.
This discovery leads David and the gang to explore the basement, where his father conducted his experiments, and find a hidden hatch containing a box-thingy that does some sci-fi stuff. There’s some BS jargon but via blueprints and such, they are able to determine the box is some kind of time travel machine and through trial and error, with plenty of error, make it work. Entering the picture with the gang is the all-too-gorgeous Jessie (SOFIA BLACK D’ELIA) after the gang uses her hybrid car battery to power the machine.
After making it portable, and using inanimate objects for testing, they manage to travel together, first by a day and with more experimentation, and I have no clue how, by months utilizing the machine for their own purposes from Quinn passing a pop quiz, Christina getting even with a bully, Adam help win the lottery (only $1.8 million due to getting the last number wrong) and David wooing Jessie, his high school crush, taking her to lollapalooza where the pair connect, though being an idiot in romance, fails to recognize Jessie is in love with him.
But with all of their time travel, things in the present have changed and at first for the positive. The bully is now friends with Christina; David’s mother has a job and other little things. However, with David and Jessie being on the outs, he breaks the rules and chooses to use the machine alone and goes back to lollapalooza to make things right. His actions have dire consequences from a deadly plane crash halfway across the world to Adam landing in the hospital in a coma.
In spite of my hatred of the found footage style/formula, I actually found Project Almanac to be at least quasi-entertaining, though the first 25-30 minutes are tiresome and downright dull. However, the film does manage to pick up some steam through the second and third acts aided by engaging characters that I actually cared about; though the likelihood of the two in real life getting together is one of the bigger BS moments, even more so than the “science,” the issues of which I could just set aside and accept on face value. Jonny Weston and, especially, Sofia Black-D’Elia share some decent chemistry and it doesn’t hurt that Black-D’Elia is easy on the eyes. One of the many shortcomings of the found footage style is it doesn’t lend itself to character development or a more expansive story. And while these characters may not be fully fleshed out, there’s enough there to at least carry the viewer across the finish line.
All that said, I don’t want to overstate this movie. It’s not great but more passable entertainment, a way to spend 100-minutes before moving on with other, more important things, going on in your life, including better movies… Project Almanac will certainly entertain those fans of the found footage formula but for others, they will be more annoyed than anything, even I found portions to be exasperating and tough to sludge through. Oh, and don’t bother to break down the science or time travel parts, it’ll only make your head hurt trying to make sense of it.
Project Almanac was helmed by Dean Israelite, marking his feature debut, from a screenplay by Jason Pagan & Andrew Deutschman (writing duo behind Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension set for release later this year).
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.0/5
This release comes with a semi-glossy slip cover. Inside is a standard DVD Copy and a Digital HD redemption code.
The features are rather light with an Alternate Opening (3:29; HD), some Deleted Scenes (9:11; HD) and two Alternate Endings (4:46; HD).
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Project Almanac is presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer (AVC codec). The picture actually is a step up from a fair number of found footage films with good detail levels while colors appear to be well balanced throughout. It’s nothing amazing nor can be considered reference quality but it still looks good considering the format.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The movie comes with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track which packs a decent punch at times and provides for clear dialogue levels but this lossless track really comes to life when the teens travel through times where the LFE channel comes to life while the choice music, top 40-type material, provide for the most depth.
OVERALL – 2.5/5
Overall, Project Almanac might not be a great movie, and in my book no found footage feature is anyway, but there is just enough that kept my attention from at least likable characters, as well as half-decent visual effects. That said, it’s nothing more than a Red Box rental and nothing more. The Blu-ray released by Paramount is really basic with minimal bonus material but the audio/video transfers were both impressive.
Brian Oliver aka The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.