Monday, March 9, 2015

Project Almanac

Project Almanac - 106 min - PG13

I wish the filmmakers really did have a time machine so they could go back in time and prevent themselves from making the choices that lead this interesting idea down the road of paradoxical disaster. Amongst their sins are: found footage gimmick: not playing by their own rules: and an ending that makes the whole journey not worthwhile. I so wanted to give this movie a green light on the concept, but its execution gets a red light from me.

David(Johnny Weston) is a high school senior. He finds a camera in his dead father’s belongings with a recording of his 7th birthday party. He sees his 17-year-old self in the mirror in one of the shots. This leads him to find what his father was working on before he died, a time machine. With the help of his sister, Christina (Virginia Gardner), and his two closest friends, Quinn (Sam Learner) and Adam (Allen Evangelista), they finish the time machine. They start out with small jumps that only go back three weeks and then further. They include David’s crush, Jessie (Sofia Black-D'ella), after borrowing the battery in her Prius for a test.

Found footage is a one trick pony, the person who came up with it gets to claim that trick and it should have stayed there. This concept in a horror can work because we see what people have recorded before their demise. As other genres try this technique, it starts getting more and more absurd. Not only am I a crazy person who has to film everything I do, I have to get coverage from two cameras. Then there is the mutant-like power to set the camera down in a hurry and have it land so that the entire room is in frame and you are not looking at the floor or a blank wall. EVERY TIME you set it down. Let’s just agree to be done with this style of filming. It’s a shame, the story itself could have stood on its own merits without the filming gimmick.

It took a long time for the movie to get to the point. It could have been a much better if they tightened up the introduction. They also fell down with following their own rules. It's established that one you go back and change time it ripples and changes and it gets out of hand. David chooses to go back to stop all of the craziness. He goes back ten years and destroys the time machine before they have a chance to screw things up. So he does, and he disappears but for some reason the camera he used doesn't get affected by the paradox. If he destroys the time machine, he never goes back so he disappears from existence but not the camera? Blink....Blink... Nope you lost me.

The one good thing in the film is how they start using the time jumps for small things and then they go larger and larger. They do build tension, because anyone who enjoys time travel movies knows that jumping to the past has consequences. According to the butterfly effect, a small thing has an effect on other larger things. As a viewer I did feel more and more uncomfortable waiting for the temporal shoe to drop. It's too bad they didn't know how to manage the velocity of the story once it got out of control.

What was your favorite time travel film? If it's this one, forget I asked.

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