HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Project Almanac
HTS Overall Score:74.5
Movies involving time traveling has been around since science fiction began. The 1950s were filled with that sort of pulp novels and the film industry has been rife with that genre of films since science fiction movies were invented. Now found footage movies haven’t been around as long, getting the main kick in the pants for that sub-genre in the form of “The Blair Witch Project” during the 90s. The whole “found footage” craze has really run its course and the film industry seems to be winding down from making more films that rely on shaky camera work and plenty of scares. So color me a tad curious when I see that “Project Almanac” blends both sub genres together into one mish mash experience. Let me get this out of the way first. I hate most found footage movies. They’re totally gimmicky, in my opinion, and sacrifice good camera work for a blurry mess meant to confuse and skip the story along. “Project Almanac” isn’t a fantastic movie, but it really didn’t make me hate the film. The style of the found footage genre is there, but looks nothing like the handy cam, el cheapo, consumer grade video cameras on the market. The quick cuts, the angles, the herky jerky motion is still there, but using higher grade cameras allows for a much cleaner experience. Couple that with the fact that the story itself isn’t half bad, despite following some of the conundrums and blatant bending of their own universal time traveling rules.
David Raskin (Johnny Weston) and his friends, Quinn (Adam Lerner), Adam (Allen Evangelista) as well as David’s sister, Christina (Virginia Gardner) are all your average high school students. David is just accepted into MIT, but is only afforded $5,000 in financial aid. Frustrated, and desperate for a way into the school, he loots his scientist father’s old belongings in search of an idea that will gain him enough notoriety for a scholarship. Finding his father’s old camera, and a hidden box under the basement, the teenagers open up a whole new world. It seems that David’s father had created the blue prints for a time machine, before mysteriously vanishing on a business project. Now, a decade later, David and his brilliant nerdy friends are about to finish his work.
Building a time machine is just the start of it, roping in David’s crush, Jessie (Sofia Black-D’elia) the head strong teens force a portal through time and start to have a LOT of fun. Now the first thing that I would do if I got the power of time travel is to make myself rich, go to places I wouldn’t normally go and just have fun, which is pretty much what David, Jessie, Quinn, Adam and Christina do. Going back to the past and having a blast is all well and good, but sooner or later one of them messes up and a ripple effect happens. David changes the past so that he and Jessie can get together only to find that his actions created way more problems than he expected. Every time he jumps back in the past to fix something, he ends up making it worse, till finally he messes up the time line so badly that it looks like only one option is left at his disposal.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=46506[/img]“Project Almanac” was a movie I really expected to hate. I loathe found footage films, and I really truly expected to be bored spit less. I have to say that it isn’t the greatest movie on earth, but its surprisingly cohesive and fluid for a movie of this genre. The movie is less of a found footage movie, and more of a Point of View film. Christina and David lug their dad’s old camera along with them at every turn to film the experiement in time travel and soon enough it follows them throughout the entire film. This is both a cool little storytelling device as well as a hindrance. It works for the scenario of the experiement, but soon you’d watching POV through the camera as it follows him EVERYWHRE. Even in places where you would expect the camera not to be. Not to mention that fact that the camera seems to suddenly skip and track across the spectrum, giving it a jittery old fashioned look. Something a good digital camera like that shouldn’t have to experience.
There’s a few plot devices that work, but there’s just as many devices that really don’t work. Time travel is always a bit sticky with logic, as we really don’t know how true time travel would actually work, so rules get made up along the way. The only negative side effect to this pseudo-science is that most directors and storytellers end up breaking their own laws of travel to push the storyline along. In this case the ripple effect is a basic plot device that gets shattered a dozen times over as David actually FIXS his timeline, without any OTHER ripples starting off. The other issue that hinders the movie a bit is the teenagers themselves. None of the teenagers seems to harness any charisma or chemistry. David and Jessie’s romance is about the only thing that has any semblance of charm to it, and even that is a bit flat.
Rated PG-13 for some language and sexual content
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=46514[/img]“Project Almanac” is presented in its theatrical 2.40:1 AVC encoded aspect ratio on the Blu-ray and ends up being quite a good image, despite the use of the shaky camera work. Usually found footage movies are filled with low budget cameras that give that “home movie” feel to the image, resulting in a fairly degraded looking image. Here the cameras used are much nicer and give a very pristine looking image when the motion is kept to a minimum. At certain time there is digital skipping and some tracking like effects, but not enough to really warp the picture. Detail is strong throughout and there are some very impressive black levels in use. Colors tend to be in that teal and light green spectrum, that a lot of science fiction movies employ, with certain scenes looking glossy and nicely saturated (think the outdoor concert). It’s a good looking image, and could have looked better had it chosen a different style of filmography, but that’s hardly the fault of the encode.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=46522[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is really the highlight of the disc, giving us a very powerful and nuanced track that takes full advantage of the three dimensional sound stage. Dialog is clean and locked up in the front, and doesn’t suffer from any balance issues. The surrounds get plenty of use as the movie has many moments of sonic detail that come from all directions, whether that be the pattering of feet, the intentional distortion of the video camera’s microphone, to the roaring cacophony of noise every time someone jumps through time. LFE is deep and powerful, adding some nice weight to the jump sounds, and does a very nice job augmenting the minor sounds, such as doors slamming, pounding bass at a party, or a heavy wrench hitting the floor. There’s a couple of really cool and REALLY powerful scenes where the bass just jumps off the charts, hitting you with some very nice extension and SPL, especially that last jump that David makes when the cops are charging in the room. An A+ track that’s for certain.
• Alternate Ending
• Deleted Scenes
• Alternate Opening
I really wasn’t expecting much from “Project Almanac”, especially since it was a movie that was advertised in 2013 with an expected 2014 early release date, but got shuffled about and delayed till 2015. Usually that’s not a good sign, and I was FULLY expecting a train wreck of epic proportions. Surprisingly the film manages to rise above my expectations to give a fairly entertaining little sci-fi movie, with elements of the found footage genre thrown in for good measure. It’s not a brilliant movie, but it was mildly decently entertaining and the good technical aspects of the disc give for a fun home theater experience. Certainly at least worth a rental to check out if you like time travel movies.
Starring: Sofia Black-D'Elia, Virginia Gardner, Johnny Weston
Directed by: Dean Israelite
Written by: Jasan Pagan, Andrew Deutschman
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1
Runtime: 106 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: June 9th 2015
Buy Project Almanac On Blu-ray at Amazon
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