© Paramount Pictures Germany GmbH

Project Almanac
U.S.A. 2014

Opening 5 Mar 2015

Directed by: Dean Israelite
Writing credits: Andrew Deutschman, Jason Pagan
Principal actors: Amy Landecker, Sofia Black-D'Elia, Virginia Gardner, Jonny Weston, Sam Lerner

David Raskin (Jonny Weston) is a high-school senior trying to get into MIT with his inventions. When he receives his acceptance letter but fails to get granted enough scholarship money, he decides to explore the attic where the files of his late father, a genius inventor in his own right, were stored. It is there that he finds a video camera that shows teenage David appearing at his own seventh birthday party. Discovering that his father had been working on time travel, David decides to utilize the help of his friends (Allen Evangelista, Sam Lerner) and sister Christina (Virginia Gardner) and make the machine himself.

Despite having incredible intelligence and at least some knowledge of films which warn of the dangers of time travel, David and his friends decide that the best way to utilize their newfound time machine is to fix their grades, best some bullies, win the lottery, and go to Lollapalooza (an annual musical festival in Chicago). When David decides to break the rules of the group and change time by himself in order to win the attraction of the girl he likes (Sofia Black-D'Elia), he sets off a series of events which he must then endeavor to fix.

There was no hope for this movie from the start, because it was produced by Michael Bay of Transformers (2007), Armageddon (1998), and Pearl Harbor (2001) fame (it is sad to say that the list of his terrible films just goes on and on). The other producers all were similarly involved in other Michael Bay films such as the atrocity that was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), and the director and screenwriters are relative newbies to the industry. What this leaves is an unadulterated Michael Bay debacle.

There is little intelligent or new to be found in any of the films attached to Bay, and Project Almanac certainly doesn’t break the mold. The story is a rehash of other better movies, the characters have no depth, and the women are just there to be sexualized objects. It is unfortunate that this formula that Bay likes to put out there is so successful that it keeps on being made over and over again. As a critic all I can do is implore you not to see this film. It is not worth the time or the money that you will spend on it, and there are so many better films of the same genre to see (e.g. Primer [2004], Looper [2012], 12 Monkeys [1995]). Perhaps if we all make a concerted effort to not see Michael Bay films in the future this menace of the art form will be stopped, but I’m not holding out too much hope. (Rose Finlay)

Second Opinion

This science fiction adventure film centers on a group of teenagers who discover blueprints for a time machine and then proceed to create it. The lead character David Raskin (Jonny Weston) is a MIT bound ‘brain’ who takes the lead in interpreting his deceased father’s work of time travel. David’s best friends, Quinn (Sam Lerner) and Adam (Allen Evangelista) soon become indispensable time travel assistants while adding levity and lending enthusiasm for this secret project.

We see the time machine used for personal gain (a big lottery win), changing those “what if?” moments of being an awkward teen (the first kiss), as well as unraveling troubling questions of the past (how did David’s father die?). All the while the teens examine themselves, their motives and reflect on the outcomes of their actions. What are our lessons learned?

The “found footage” style of filming gives the moviegoer a unique involvement to the screen action. David’s sister, Christine (Virginia Gardner), is always under the boys’ feet and never seen without a camera attached to her hand. It is through her camera’s eye that we gain entry into this time travel adventure. Project Almanac is raw, fast moving and makes you want to jump in and be part of the thrill ride.

This smart, entertaining and cleverly filmed coming-of-age movie holds appeal not only to a teen audience but those young at heart adult science-fiction fans. (Abby Myers)

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