At first glance, Project Almanac, produced by Michael Bay (Transformers), seems like it would a very interesting, thought-provoking movie about time travel. It is not.
Project Almanac is a found-footage film released on Jan. 30 that follows a group of teenagers who find blueprints to a time travel device in the basement of David (Jonny Weston, Chasing Mavericks), the main character. They end up using the time machine for typical things teenagers would use it for, such as winning the lottery, becoming more popular and cheating on a chemistry exam.
Ultimately, these were some of the best parts of the movie. It accurately portrayed what any person would do with a time machine because most people would use the time machine to better themselves without trying to be too harmful to the world around them. These scenes would be worth watching again.
Despite the value of a realistic take on the situation, however, the filmmakers were possibly too realistic towards the end. These small segments in which the characters act frivolously do not build up to anything substantial. The second half of the film is boring and slow paced, and the ending is lackluster and underwhelming, as the characters never feel as if they learned anything. While similar reactions may happen in real life, it does not make for an intriguing movie.
The characters do not help either. Despite having five main characters, the film does not allot enough time to develop a connection between any of them. The characters are cardboard stereotypes with no depth to them. David is the awkward, nerdy kid; his one friend is the horny gamer; his other friend is another nerdy guy. David’s sister just holds the camera during the whole movie so she is barely seen, and David’s love interest is the token attractive female. While there are relatable moments between the characters that viewers may appreciate, the characters themselves just serve as a way to show off the time machine.
In addition to the movie’s lack of character development, it also seemed too convenient that teenagers are able to build a time machine. The kids come across as super-geniuses and inherently know how to build the time machine. Details like these are essential when a viewer is trying to immerse themselves in a film. The time travel theme also starts to get too complicated later on in the film. Unforeseen consequences have the teenagers fighting for what may be their very existence when they break the rules of time travel. Point being, it diverges a bit from traditional time travel conventions.
Overall, Project Almanac is predictable and lacks even the most remote effort to comply with scientific theorem. While segments of the teenagers time travels are engaging, the story is simply too thin, the characters are too boring and the plot conveniences are a little too prevalent. If only time travel was possible, it would be better put to use by sending back the screenwriters, newcomers Andrew Stark and Jason Pagan, to rewrite the screenplay.