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Project Almanac



MV5BMTUxMjQ2NjI4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODc2NjUwNDE@._V1__SX1217_SY603_Director: Dean Israelite

Stars: Amy Landecker, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Virginia Gardner

Released: 16th February 2015 (UK)

Project Almanac is yet another found footage movie, this time following a group of teenage friends who discover the plans of a time machine. They manage to get it working and manipulate time for their personal gain, simultaneously attempting to solve a mystery in the past of protagonist David (Jonny Weston).

Inevitably, the found footage is nauseating, but due to the nature of the plot it has a reason to be there and is once or twice a useful tool in the construction of the narrative, but nothing more. As a depiction of what you’d expect a teenager to do with the ability to rewrite time, the film doesn’t fall too far from the mark either: the kids work out how to win the lottery, they become popular at school and pass their exams with flying colours, even if this does mean the crucial mystery subplot is cast aside.

As the criss-crossing timelines become increasingly tangled there is a sense that we might finally become invested in this frankly irritating bunch of kids, though this is easier said than done when they appear to live in Michael Bay land. All the high school girls look like escaped Maxim models and the men are Superbad style nerds with a taste for leery humour and shouting their dialogue at a million miles an hour (commonly known as Shia LaBeouf syndrome), so the prospect of spending any more time with these people becomes less and less appealing. Almanac stodges through an impossibly languorous hour and forty minute run-time that could benefit from shedding two characters and at least one subplot.

Of course, with any movie featuring time travel, references to Back to the Future and Timecop are aplenty, but it’s closest genetic template is Josh Trank’s Chronicle, with everything but the central conceit (superpowers replaced with time travel) intact: the main character is inept with the opposite sex, he has unresolved issues with his father, and the found footage façade is dropped occasionally for the sake of thrills (and sometimes for no reason at all).

Despite perfectly amiable intentions, Project Almanac is never anything more than passably interesting: it stumbles more than it leaps, but I feel we should at least admire it for not wimping out by the end and sticking firmly to a solid frame of reference.

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