Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

Project Almanac

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A group of teens discover secret plans of a time machine, and construct one. However, things start to get out of control.

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Cast

Jonny Weston – David Raskin

Christina Gardner – Virginia Raskin

Sofia Black D’Elia – Jessie

Sam Lerner – Quinn

Allen Evangelista – Adam

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Wasted

If you discovered and learned how to master a time machine, what would you do?

– go visit Mozart and tell him he’ll inspire people for hundreds of years to come?

– throw a grenade down the chimney of Bin Laden’s house?

– rescue Joan of Arc?

– snap a selfie with Elvis?

– or maybe return to the incredible day humans first appeared on earth?..

No.
You’d travel back two weeks ago and attend a rock concert.

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Project Almanac was a fantastic idea but a totally wasted one at the same time. This movie had the potential to entertain or even excite with fascinating scenarios – but it fucked up massively. Ultimately this movie is about a group of teenage friends who discover a time machine, and use it to visit a rock concert and win the lottery. Viewers are subjected to scenes of utter selfishness as the kids claim their lottery win, and stand around showing off their newly purchased sports cars and swanky clothes. The sub-plot is lead character David’s romantic interest in fellow high school student Jessie; which sets tragic events in progress around the world when he jumps back in time to make sure they fall in love..

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It actually surprised me in a way, the fact this young man had such a smart head on his shoulders I.E. constructing a very complicated machine and seemingly understanding the concept of love – yet his first thought of what to do with the time machine was to whizz back two weeks and get backstage passes for a rock concert, so they could walk on to the stage and kick balloons into the audience. I’m honestly not surprised this movie was produced by MTV Films; the company clearly had a subsidized contract with the band who were playing on stage at the concert. A good half of this movie takes place at the Lollapalooza music festival. And it becomes quite tedious.

Director Dean Israelite failed spectacularly to create and deliver a movie with dynamic. Project Almanac had such potential – comedic moments, perhaps a bit of slapstick. Time travel trouble, confrontations with some of history’s most influential figures. But ironically, the movie – based around time travel – stays in one place the entire time.

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Cut The Crap

Project Almanac is bursting with cliché teenage bullshit. Moaning teenagers, priorities being music festivals and new underwear, a young man caught in a classic, “I like her but she doesn’t like me” situation at school. It’s all here. So if you’re a fan of pubescent action, this is the film for you. If not, I warn you there are some truly eye-rolling scenes. The first one being David clutching the time travel device, and warning his friends that the process could be dangerous, that they could explode – or even die. To which one of them responds enthusiastically, “I’m in”.

Another bit sees the group discussing what to do with the device. “I wanna go see Biggie and Tupac”, Jessie gushes.

And then there’s David’s best friend Adam (Evangelista) who delivers the most common of ‘encouraging’ phrases used in movies, all in one sentence:
“aren’t you tired of this? Don’t you wish you were that? Haven’t you always wanted to do this?”, and so on.

Later on in the movie when the kids discover they’ve played with history and caused tragic accidents around the world, David rightly declares that they need to travel back to the beginning to rectify it all. To which his friend Adam responds, “but people at school know who we are now!” ..yes – the kid is actually willing to crash aircrafts, kill people and cause terrorist attacks as results of his time travelling – just so his school peers can remember his name. Which they’re likely to forget anyway a few months after graduation.

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As I sat watching Project Almanac, I couldn’t quite grasp what its appeal was. What sort of message the director was trying to put across to people, other than “hey guys – wanna be popular? Buy nice clothes and drive expensive cars”. Vanity and ruthlessness seemed to be the aim of the game here, and it made for a tedious watch. Awful, in fact.

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Emotionless Emotion

As the movie reaches its end, David jumps back in time to his 7th birthday party and confronts his father (who died later that day). Together, they destroy Project Almanac’s blueprints and a vital circuit in order to put right what has gone wrong since David discovered the device.

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And that is literally how it happens – David stands in front of his father, there is a pause before his father relaises who he is, and then they hug. The scene was the most unemotional scenario I have ever witnessed in a movie. An event on this scale (young man going back in time and facing his now deceased father) should contain deep emotion. At bare minimum a few tears. But the scene happened so quickly, that any emotion was cancelled out instantly. It was like a sketch pad compared to a framed painting, and I sensed the director’s urge to hurry the film to an end as though they could all rush off to the after party. Yes, I know this is a teenage flick but for Christ sake – the actors put absolutely no effort into ‘grown up child faces dead father’. It was hideous, I’ve felt more upset during an episode of Doctor Who.

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Project Almanac was awful. The director held a brilliant concept in the palm of his hands, but let it slip through his fingers hideously. Time travel itself is a fascinating subject and if used in the right way, can be used to produce a film which makes for a brilliant watch. The idea of a group of young adults capturing their adventures on live camera is fantastic – something no producers have done before. So why was Project Almanac so bloody bad?

In all honesty, the director fucked up here massively by allowing cliché teenage issues to take over, pushing out any opportunity for some potentially brilliant scenarios. Travelling back in time to attend a rock concert, the male trying to woo the female he lusts after by forcing it to happen, the girls getting their hair done, the boys buying a sports car. It was all utterly ridiculous. It genuinely frustrates me when a movie that has room for potential makes no attempt at delivering the goods. I mean, just imagine if these kids had travelled back to historic figures..
Princess Diana, John F. Kennedy, Jesus, Charlie Chaplin.. the results would undoubtedly be hilarious as the kids get involved in madcap or bizarre confrontations. It was not to be. The possibilities were endless – but did actually end. This has to be one of THE WORST ‘could have been brilliant’ movies I have ever sat through. A sorely missed opportunity, and – ironically – a waste of time.

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This entry was posted on February 21, 2015 by .
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