Project Almanac (2 stars)

Project Almanac

Dean Israelite's derivative sci-fi follows a group of teen time-travellers

A MTV Films co-production whose producers include Michael Bay, this found-footage teen time travelling adventure from director Dean Israelite is pitched at those too young to be well versed in time travel / time loop flicks. That's just as well since it references and imitates a slew of them, most of them better (Groundhog Day, Looper, Timecop, the Bill & Ted films, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban).

A youthful cast of TV actors is led by Jonny Weston as 17-year-old David, a high-school brainiac who wants to study physics at MIT but cannot afford to go. What to do? Looking for something to sell, David and vlogger sister Christina (Virginia Gardner) find an old video recorder with a tape of David’s 7th birthday party on it, with present-day David glimpsed in the background! Conveniently, deceased Dad’s basement laboratory has lain untouched for a decade, and there David and his comedy sidekick nerd buddies Quinn and Adam (Sam Lerner and Allen Evangelista) discover blueprints for a time machine. So they build it, like you do.

We all have our own ideas about what we would do if we could go back in time. Even the dullest youth would, you’d think, have a cooler agenda than taking a failed chemistry exam again (and again and again), or going back to toss a drink over a mean girl (Christina’s wish). It’s when they win the lottery, start buying Ferraris and suddenly find themselves popular that you can really relate. So far, so amusing. But when the reckless gang inevitably learn about cause and effect, unwittingly altering timelines and endangering David’s girlfriend Jessie (Sofia Black-D’Elia), it all goes suddenly sombre (a la The Butterfly Effect) and falls apart in a confusion of consequences, with characters running into themselves and a terribly limp resolution. It’s mildly entertaining up to a point, with a reasonably engaging cast, but it mainly reminds you just how brilliant the Back to the Future trilogy was, and still is.

General release from Fri 20 Feb.

Project Almanac | Payoff Trailer

Project Almanac

  • 2 stars
  • 2014
  • US
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Dean Israelite
  • Written by: Jason Pagan, Andrew Stark
  • Cast: Amy Landecker, Sofia Black-D'Elia, Ginny Gardner
  • UK release: 3 October 2014

When teenage brainiac David (Weston), his sister (Gardner) and his buddies find his late dad's blueprints for a time machine, they build it, like you do. It's aimed at those who've never seen classic time-loop films (Groundhog Day, Looper, Back to the Future etc) which is just as well, since it steals from them all, adds…